How to Overcome the Battle With the Sunday Scaries

Have you ever experienced the gut-wrenching knot in your stomach the night before you are expected back at work? Sometimes our days off just simply aren’t enough and we find ourselves dreading the return to the grind. Here are a few tips and tricks to try out to ease the transition and set yourself for a better mindset heading into your work week.

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Anyone else ever deal with a case of the Sunday Scaries? 

The intense overwhelm that consumes you before taking on a new week. The fear of the unknown. The dread of the weekend yet again nearing an end. We've all been there and I think we as nurses especially get hit hard with this sensation. After all, our job can really take a toll and it can be quite taxing to enter a new workweek without feeling rejuvenated from our days off.

I used to deal with this EVERY Sunday and would become so anxious, almost for no apparent reason. It was a vicious cycle that I didn't quite know how to effectively manage and thought would be something I'd forever face.

Although I still battle this feeling from time to time, I've learned some tricks to help knock it and bring joy back into my Sundays. I wanted to share a few tips that work for me in hopes that they too can help you if you ever feel plagued by this monster:

Identify specifically what it is that's causing the anxiety.

Have an exam this week? An interview? Maybe you're still new at your job and trying to get a hold of things? A meeting with your boss? Pinpointing the target can help alleviate the nerves by acknowledging what it is that is making you uneasy. Identify it and own it. Show it who's in charge. Better yet, find someone you trust and communicate to them the emotions you're experiencing. Sometimes simply getting it off your chest can ease the weight of these intrusive feelings.

Spend time with those you love

Whenever I sense this awful gut-wrenching feeling sneak up, I surround myself with people who care about me. Being around your people is sometimes all it takes to distract those thoughts from taking over.

Sweat it out 

This one is a no-brainer for me because getting those endorphins pumpin' always boosts my mood! ? Even a quick 20-minute workout can do the trick! Something as simple as going for a walk and getting fresh air can ease your mind.

Clean up your living space

Starting off the week with a messy environment can set a negative tone for your week. A clear living space can attribute to a clear mindset. Better yet, cleaning up means your body is moving, and therefore, congrats! You've just knocked out tips 3 and 4! Better yet, pop in some headphones and listen to some music or a good podcast or book to keep yourself motivated (peep tip number 5).

Personal development

Whether that's reading a motivational book, listening to an empowering podcast, or even finding a powerful quote that resonates with you. Hearing something that pumps you up can get your mind back to a healthier place and re-center your focus.


Do something that your soul craves. Watch your favorite movie! Read a book! Blast music! Dance in the kitchen! Take a bath! Paint your nails! Get an ice cream cone! Do something that brings a smile to your face. 

When all else fails, find something to look forward to!

Whether it's a date night, your birthday, or a vacation coming up in the near future—focus on something fun that you're excited about and it can help you bypass those anxious moments.

#sundayscaries are real and they can be a true thief of joy IF you allow it. So if you struggle with this like I sometimes do, give these actionable pointers a try.

FACT: And remember, you are more than capable of anything this week throws at you!

Kelsey Mangan is a BSN, RN and specializes in Med/surg, Hem/Onc, School nursing, nurse writer.

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Jordan Nacalaban, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 21 Posts

Specializes in MS,Cardiac,Post-Trauma Surgical,Ortho,PACU/Preop. Has 17 years experience.

Sunday Scaries? YES! Working at the hospital creeps up when Sunday rolls in, even if I was on a shift rotation schedule. Something about getting into a new week.

Exercising and Cleaning - are great ways to ease up those "scaries" and win-win for me.

Your tips are for sure the ones I leaned on to keep the anxiety under control during those times.

Changing into a positive mindset helped me face what's to come, even with hovering uncertainty. Then, as you said, readjust the focus. 

It doesn't mean I don't have them anymore, I still do, but I've learned to shift how I look at the present and be purposeful in what I do - welcome the new week with a blank slate. Thanks for these great reminders! 

Specializes in Cardiac PCU, Clinical Instructor. Has 10 years experience.

Gut wrenching knot in stomach all shift! The Cause: understaffed, 1 to 6 ratio with trach/ vent patients/ codes/ staff not showing up for shift...etc.  I could go on with this list,  I feel that being a nurse right now sucks...And I truly love being a nurse , but I am on the verge of a mental collapse.  It's Just too much

Specializes in Community health. Has 5 years experience.

Also— plan things to do for Sunday! (Or whatever the day before your shift is). I know in my family, we have a tendency to book Saturday full and then sit around the house all day Sunday. Which is too much opportunity to sit and be anxious!  Better to switch those days around. Relax on the first day and stay busy the second.