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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Sunday Night Blues? Focus on Work-Life Balance Over the Weekend

Sunday Night Blues? Focus on Work-Life Balance Over the Weekend
Credit: Chinnapong/Shutterstock

For workers with Monday to Friday jobs, Sunday nights can be disheartening. After two days of downtime and space away from the grind, they might feel unprepared for the week ahead, causing stress and anxiety.

A study by online job site Monster.com revealed that more than three-quarters of employees experience "really bad" Sunday night blues.

Mary Ellen Slayter, career advice expert for Monster.com, said with Monday morning being notoriously stressful, she doesn't think anyone is truly happy to see their weekends end.

"Catching up on emails, planning the upcoming week, tackling new assignments – all while thinking, 'I have another five solid days of work before my next day off,'" she said. "It's understandably daunting."

But Sunday doesn't need to be wasted in dread. Here are some ways to avoid the end-of-the-week anxieties.

Slater said that to reduce Sunday night stress, employees should take time on Friday to make sure they are set up for success the following week.

"Spend a few minutes preparing for next week: review and prioritize your calendar, assemble materials you expect to be using and tie up every loose end you can," Slater said. "Be mindful of where you pause ongoing projects. Often, it's wise to simply finish a task you're already immersed in, rather than attempting to pick up the pieces and resume progress after two days off."

Shelley Osborne, head of learning and development at Udemy, said that before she welcomes the weekend on Friday, she creates a list of priorities for the following week. This ensures she won't forget assignments or tasks after a few days off.

"By building time into my Fridays to plan ahead, I can feel confident of my game plan for the week and find my Sundays are much more relaxed," she said.

Weekends are meant as time off from work, so treat it as such. Don't dwell on mistakes you made that week or projects you need to start next week when you should be relaxing and unplugging.

"When employees can take a real break from work without feeling insecure about it, they're fresher and more engaged when they return," said Osborne. "Performance improves when people are given time and space to focus on personal relationships and non-work-related pursuits that bring them joy."

While you may have periods that require longer hours and more attention, you should prioritize the time you have to unwind.

It's nice to indulge in lazy days on the couch sometimes, but try choosing pastimes that will stimulate your mind and distract you from work-related stressors.

"I recommend what I call 'active leisure' pursuits that are enjoyable and help you unwind without becoming a completely passive couch potato," said Osborne. "For example, I often find my mind wandering to work issues if I'm watching a TV show, but my brain can't obsess about anything else when I'm absorbed in a good book."

Osborne recommends activities that engage your body and mind, like classes at the gym, outings with friends and family, or cooking Saturday night feasts.

"Think of something that gives you a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction in time well spent," she said. "On Sunday night, looking back on my weekend and seeing how I took full advantage of it, I'm more likely to feel fired up for Monday morning."

Additional reporting by Chad Brooks. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela is a recent graduate of Rowan University, where she majored in writing arts and minored in journalism. She currently works as a Purch B2B staff writer while working on her first novel in her free time. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.