5 Ways to Prevent the Sunday Scaries

October 27, 2019 Dan Miller

3-minute read

woman under bedsheets

You know the feeling.

You’re watching football, playing with your kids, or enjoying a beverage with a good novel. But something’s not right. There’s subtle pressure on your brain suggesting imminent danger and impending doom.

Tomorrow is Monday and you’re heading back to work.

This is Sunday afternoon work anxiety, which typically impacts those who work in a toxic workplace. There are multiple reasons for this – from working for a bad boss, to dealing with grandstanding colleagues, to an environment that prefers process over people.

No job is perfect. But there are five steps you can take to rise above a toxic workplace and be the change agent who can make a difference. Whether you are leading a team or in a contributing role, these simple actions will reduce and even eliminate Sunday afternoon work anxiety.

  1. Be positive. Sounds simple, but so many people struggle with this. You have a choice when you enter your workplace – you can smile and say “good morning,” or you can be cranky and avoid eye contact. Choosing positivity is especially important if you have direct reports. They will feed on your mood, which can impact productivity in a good or bad way. You’ll find that looking for good in others, avoiding the drama, and simply being upbeat will make you feel better. Don’t give others the power to dictate your mood – you are always in control and have the choice on how you approach your day.
  2. Be confident. You are here for a reason, and no one brings exactly what you do to the workplace. While you may not always be working on something that inspires you, know that your contributions are lifting the business. You’re compensated because you’re good. Walk through your workspace or approach a remote meeting with confidence. Pay attention to your posture. Hold your head high. Body language is as important as what you say.
  3. Be present. When you’re having a conversation with a colleague, give what they are saying your full attention. Conversations are a gift, and there’s always something to learn. Put your smartphone away. Make eye contact. Really listen and understand. In meetings, ditch the laptop. Give everyone in the room the mutual respect they deserve for taking the time to connect. The irony of technology is that we’ve never been more and less connected. Never take a conversation for granted. Most texts and emails can wait.
  4. Be persistent. We all have different speeds. Some days we zip through our to-do list, and others not so much. We’re human. And we’re aware of the obstacles and roadblocks that can get in the way. That’s part of work. But don’t pull off to the side of the road and wait for help. There are always things to work on – to build your personal brand, to advance an idea, to lift your business. Yes, take the white space when you need it (a walk is always a good idea if you can), but keep laser-focused on your deliverables and take the steps to get them done. You are better-equipped to survive a toxic workplace when you are productive. Procrastination will surely lead to Sunday afternoon work anxiety when you’re overpromising and underdelivering.
  5. Be grateful. Your company may or may not have a formal social recognition platform (we highly recommend it, though). But you can always be grateful and show appreciation for your colleagues. A simple “thank you” can change someone’s day. Forward-thinking companies that understand the business value of gratitude are willing to reimagine their total rewards strategy to double-down on the power of thanks. And these moments of gratitude are truly moments that matter. Gratitude may be the best cure-all to reduce and even eliminate Sunday afternoon work anxiety.


Workhuman Book Club: "Creating Mindful Leaders," by Joe Burton

Let freedom reign: the employee manifesto

New findings on stress, trust, and gratitude at work

About the Author

Dan Miller

Dan Miller is the director of content marketing for Workhuman.

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