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9 Ways To Enjoy The Weekend And Not Let Sunday Ruin Your Life

For when your existential dread is perfectly in sync with the end of the weekend.

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Who among us hasn't felt like they were being swallowed whole by anxiety about the work week ahead?

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Even people who like their jobs and more or less enjoy their lives start to feel their hope and happiness drain away on Sunday afternoons. As clinical psychologist Ryan Howes, PhD, tells BuzzFeed Health, the Sunday blues might be a holdover from our childhood, when any time off school was officially fun time and the start of the week meant back to classes, homework, and the expectation that we'll be "good" and productive.

"It feels restrictive," Howes says. That's why so many of us white-knuckle it through the week until we can get to the weekend when we can relax, loosen up, and not worry as much about all those expectations and restrictions.

The good news is that there are ways to escape (or at least loosen) the death grip of existential dread that descends on Sunday afternoons. Here's how:

1. Find a way to give your weekends just a bit of structure.

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Transitioning from a 9-5 schedule to a weekend lifestyle can feel like a beautiful gift from the gods of relaxation. But shifting from that #weekendlyfe back to 9-5 feels, well, hellish and can really ruin a Sunday.

One way to make your transition from weekend to weekday feel a little less jarring is to close the gap between a totally loosey goosey weekend and a way more rigid weekday schedule, clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, PhD, author of Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World, tells BuzzFeed Health.

It can be something small, like eating around the same times you usually do during the week, or loosely mimicking your sleep schedule from the week (hey, we said "loosely"). Or maybe it's doing one weekday errand over the weekend (which, bonus, is one less thing to do during the week!). Minor changes like that can make the flow from weekend to weekday a lot less jarring.

2. If you usually do fun stuff on Saturday and chore stuff on Sunday, mix it up.

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Lots of people designate Saturdays for fun social stuff and Sundays for chores, errands, and obligations. But how much can you really enjoy Sunday when you know you're going to spend it cleaning, doing laundry, buying groceries, and organizing your finances (or laying in bed avoiding all those things while being filled with self-loathing)?

Howes recommends switching up your weekend routine so that you use Saturday to get most of your chores and obligations done which means Sunday can be free for the stuff you're actually looking forward to. If using all of Saturday to do that stuff sounds too miserable, compromise by doing some fun stuff and some boring stuff each day.

3. If possible, complete your most odious task on Friday.

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Identify the one thing that hangs over you all weekend — the thing that, when you think of doing it, stops delightful relaxation in its tracks. If it's at all possible, do that thing on Friday.

Use your Friday lunch break to answer emails, pay bills, make that phone call you've been dreading. Heck you can even take an hour out of your Friday night to clean your bathroom. Taking that one terrible thing off the table will help you go into the weekend feeling lighter.


4. Plan your sloth-like behavior strategically.

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The instinct to hole up for the majority of the weekend can feel a lot like self-care, but before you plan on spending Sunday under a blanket with your laptop, really take a second to consider your relationship to "doing nothing," recommends Bonior.

If you know that lying around for hours makes you feel guilty, or that the first couple hours of laying around is great but everything after that makes you feel inert, unmotivated, or lonely, let that guide your decision-making. Consider alternating laying around with doing a load of laundry or calling someone you've been meaning to connect with or doing a small home improvement thing or a fun art project. Or at least get the big stuff out of the way before you get into your blanket fort, so you can really enjoy it.

5. Commit to having actual, stimulating fun during the week.

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When the only time you really do stuff you're looking forward to is on the weekends, it makes a lot of sense that you'd dread the weekdays. "People anticipate the drudgery of their week," says Howes, especially when they know that Monday kicks off another five days of work/homework, waking up early, bummer commutes, etc., and that's about it.

"If you have ability to try to make your work week pleasant and nice, then do it," says Howes. Sure, save the biggest stuff for the weekends — day trips, long hikes, stuff that that — but resist the urge to make the weekdays all about going to work and school and then coming home to your pajamas and Netflix. Consider taking just one or two nights per week to do something stimulating.

Check out galleries or museums or the movies, see concerts and sports, join a pub trivia team, take an art class, catch up with friends at a new restaurant, explore a new neighborhood, etc., etc.

6. Try to minimize the ~chemical component~ that makes Sundays suck.

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If Sundays are all about recuperating from the fun you had earlier in the weekend or maybe continuing the fun with a boozy brunch, one way or another you end up giving a lot of the day to recovery.

Don't stop partying altogether, just keep in mind that if practicing some moderation earlier in the weekend and on Sunday will make the day far more pleasant, it's probably worthwhile. The physical effects of a hangover along with booze being a depressant "tends to bring the mood down" and really make it tough to feel upbeat and OK, says Howes.

7. Schedule a fun group thing for Sunday nights.

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Instead of hoping that Sunday somehow shapes up to be fun, Howes recommends making concrete plans to spend the evening doing something fun. If you tend to feel lonely or isolated on Sundays, consider doing something with a group — like a cookout or potluck meal, a game night, or just inviting people over to watch a movie.

If you need a break from group hangs, that's fine, too. Plan a thing with one special person or just schedule something fun you can do on your own. Saving it for Sunday night gives you something to look forward to then.

8. Try to start Monday with something delightful.

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Give yourself a built-in thing to look forward to on Mondays, says Bonior. Maybe you start the day with a fancy coffee drink and your favorite pastry or buy a special takeout lunch or meet with a friend for an early breakfast before work. Whatever it is, having a small thing you're psyched about scheduled for sometime early in the day on Monday will give you something to be psyched about.

9. If your dread feels really consuming and next level, you might need to make more substantial life changes.

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Sunday scaries are one thing, but Howes says that if the blues are starting way earlier in the weekend and you're not really able to enjoy your days off at all, you're probably in a place where these tweaks aren't enough to solve the problem entirely. Howes says that spending your whole weekend in dread is a sign that you might need to consider making more substantial changes to your life. Talking to someone about that — a friend, family member, or professional — might be a great way to get the ball rolling.