“Where did our weekend go?” Have you ever found yourself asking this question on a Sunday night or a few minutes after hitting snooze for the third time on a Monday morning?
If you do – you’re not alone! Studies show that many people struggle with Weekend Anxiety Syndrome (WAS) or the Sunday Scaries… there are a couple of reasons that can contribute to our stress and anxiety over weekends, and these are generally linked to two key areas: too much sleep and lack of activity.
Yes… that’s right – TOO MUCH sleep and TOO LITTLE activity. It sounds counterintuitive, but as you page through the google search results for WAS, you will find a bounty of research articles that encourage consistency of sleep patterns and positive, restorative activities.
As we slide into Friday, it’s easy to think about all the things we’d like to accomplish on the weekend or deliberately plan to do as little as possible. But as Sunday evening arrives, if we haven’t achieved Friday’s aspirations, we are left with a knot in our tummies and a pervasive sense of failure.
Dr Luke Martin, clinical psychologist and project manager at Beyondblue, says that WAS may be a side effect of modern life. “We’re so time poor, there’s a lot of pressure to get our weekends right,” he says. “On social media, everyone lives the perfect, busy life, so it’s easy to think there’s something wrong if your life doesn’t measure up. On Monday, when everyone’s comparing notes from the weekend, and you feel like yours doesn’t measure up, then your body doesn’t like that, which can cause anxiety.” (dailytelegraph.com.au)
It’s not like our weekends aren’t busy. We complete one task after another (cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking) and then poof, Monday is here! Chores expand to fill the available space, especially if we’re trying to catch a lie-in, an afternoon snooze or binge that series that everyone keeps telling us to watch.
Having read through a few blogs and articles, a few practical ideas can help us reduce our Sunday Scaries and win back our weekend.
- Create a weekend bucket list. Chat with those in your home and family and ask them what types of activities they’d like to do over the weekend. These could be hikes, neighbourhood walks, visits to the beach or a local nature reserve. Perhaps it’s to start learning a skill like painting or music, or maybe it’s focussed on things like gardening and crafting. Once you have this list of ideas, plan to achieve one or two every second weekend.
- Regulate your sleep patterns. This practice applies to both the weekend and weekdays too. Some research refers to our change in sleeping over the weekends as Social Jet Lag, likening the exhaustion that we feel on a Monday morning to a long-distance flight through several time zones. If we go to bed later and wake up later over the weekend, we will feel tired on a Monday.
- Stay off social media. Much of this has to do with the psychological impact of seeing what other people are busy doing. This feed of photos and emotionally engaging content makes us feel like we’re not doing as much as everyone else. It also saps precious time and energy that we could be engaging in those awesome ideas in our weekend bucket list.
- Plan ‘weekend’ activities for the week too. In every strategy to get more out of life, we find that balance is a crucial element. If we think that ‘fun stuff’ can only happen over the weekend, we will constantly struggle with WAS. Planning a midweek movie night, dinner with friends, an early evening walk can all fit into our weekly schedules and help us realise that we don’t have to live from Monday to Thursday, wishing it was Friday already.
We can have all the money in the world, but if our life is not fulfilling, our money will mean nothing. When it comes to financial planning, we have to include life planning so that we can make the most of what we have instead of falling into the trap of simply trying to ‘make more’.