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How to Ward Off the Sunday Scaries

It can feel like a pit in your stomach. Or maybe it makes your heart flutter. Sometimes, it can escalate and paralyze you into staying in bed. The commonality: It always hits on Sundays. What is this dreaded feeling of anxiety and dread?

The “Sunday Scaries,” despite the flippant-sounding name, are the negative feelings that emerge at the end of a weekend, before returning to work or school. They’re not a clinical condition, and they can be anything from a minor inconvenience to crippling anxiety.

According to the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) manual, although everyday anxiety is an unpleasant state, it can be quite useful in helping people “avoid dangerous situations and motivate them to solve everyday problems.”

However, once anxiety begins to interfere with your everyday activities, responsibilities and relationships, or it’s severe and persistent coupled with feelings of pain, fear and avoidance — it’s a good idea to seek help from a qualified professional. This is especially true if you start to use substances, such as alcohol or drugs, to cope with or suppress the feelings.

Weekends are supposed to be a time to recharge and unplug from work. Even a few hours lost to worrying about work can drain your mind and body. If the Sunday Scaries are robbing you of joy and rest, consider these strategies to get your weekend back.

  • Work on a Project. Replace the bad habits that can develop as a way to combat the Sunday Scaries, such as alcohol use and other substances, with productive habits. Work on a project that requires your full attention either physically (like working on a yard or house project) or mentally (like knitting or crossword puzzles).
  • Indulge in Some “Me Time.” Whether it’s getting lost in a good book or turning on a podcast, self-care is not a trend — it’s a proven way to invest in your mental wellbeing.
  • Make a To-do List. Jot down your upcoming weekly tasks and reminders. Putting things on paper and prioritizing them can put your mind at ease on Sunday and free you up to tackle them on Monday.
  • Make Monday More Attractive. If you’re dreading Monday, make it more appealing by treating yourself to a pick-me-up, such as coffee from your favorite shop or a new candle for your desk.
  • Talk it Out. If you’re feeling anxious, talk about your feelings and symptoms with someone who knows how to listen nonjudgmentally — like a Mental Health First Aider. First Aiders have been trained in the 5-step MHFA Action Plan, in which they approach, listen, give assurance and encourage someone who may be experiencing mental health or substance use challenges.
  • Take MHFA at Work. MHFA at Work is a mental health training program companies can provide their employees. It teaches you how to notice and support an individual who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use concern or crisis in a work environment and connect them with appropriate employee and community resources. Employers interested in offering the training for their employees can learn more at

MHFA believes every person should have one First Aider in their network of friends, family and peers. Every 1 in 15 people should be certified to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges.

Certify as a MHFA First Aider to learn how to identify, understand and respond to someone with mental health and substance use challenges. Find a course and #BeThe1in15.

No matter what you call them — the Sunday Scaries or something else — realize that you can take back your weekend. Even small changes can have a big impact on your mental health.



Mental Health First Aid. (2020). Mental Health First Aid USA. National Council for Behavioral Health d/b/a National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

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