Mental Health

Want to alleviate the ‘Sunday Scaries’? Start by making the most of Sunday evening

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Lauren Geall
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Welcome back to Sleepless Nights, Stylist’s weekly series designed to help you put your Sunday night anxiety and worries to bed. This week, we’re exploring the benefits of distraction when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

One of the most frustrating things about dealing with the ‘Sunday Scaries’ is just how early it can strike.

While some people find that their anxiety only increases in the hours before they go to bed, for many, Sunday night anxiety isn’t as limited to the evening as its name might suggest. According to a study by the bedding brand Charisma published at the beginning of last year, the average time that people start dreading the week ahead is 3:58 pm on a Sunday – at least five hours before you can expect it to get dark in the UK during the summer months.

In short, many of us are losing hours of our weekend to the stress and worry associated with Sunday night anxiety. According to a new study by the alcohol-free brewer Big Drop, almost a quarter (24%) of UK adults don’t even make plans on Sundays because of this fear.  

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But could making plans – and distracting yourself from your anxiety – actually be the best way to alleviate the ‘Sunday Scaries’?

As previously reported by Stylist, just because you might have a wealth of anxiety-busting techniques at your fingertips, doesn’t mean you have to put them into action all the time. In fact, as psychologist Katherine King previously wrote in Psychology Today, sometimes the best thing you can do is to simply try to take your mind off of whatever is worrying you, in order to give your mind and body a “break”.  

“It does not serve our long-term wellbeing to continue to circle around a problem over and over again,” she explained. “Distracting ourselves from emotional struggle gives our minds and bodies a break. It allows the nervous system to relax and get out of fight-or-flight mode. Once this happens, we will start to be able to think through our problems more clearly and come to better solutions.”

A woman feeling anxious
Distracting yourself from your anxiety can help you to relax and see the situation more clearly.

As part of their campaign to help people to make the most of their Sundays, Big Drop has launched Big Sundays – a series of fun-filled challenges to encourage people to be more adventurous on the final day of the week.

But going all out isn’t the only way to reap the benefits of distraction. There are plenty of fun (and simple) activities you can do to take your mind off of the week ahead from the comfort of your own home – many of which won’t cost you a penny. Keep reading to check out some suggestions for ways to make the most of your Sunday evening.  

1. Have a movie night

Some people find that anxiety makes it hard for them to concentrate, but if you don’t, an easy way to distract yourself is to lose yourself in a good film.

Make a night of it by picking up some of your favourite snacks (sweet and savory, of course) or ordering a takeaway – go on, you deserve it!

2. Go for an evening walk

The longest day of the year may have been and gone, but we’ve still got the luxury of long evenings for some weeks to come. With this in mind, why not make the most of the daylight and get out for a walk?

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You might be sick of walking by now (we’ve all been there), but there’s a reason why so many people swore by their daily walk during lockdown. Not only is it a great way to get outside, but it can also promote mindfulness – something which has been proven to benefit mental health.  

3. Get crafty

Doing a creative hobby requires a lot of focus – perfect for when you’re trying to take your mind off of something.

With so many craft kits available to buy, why not pick up a selection for yourself and your friends and use the time to get together with a few drinks, too? 

A woman drawing a cactus
Doing something creative requires physical and mental focus – perfect for when you're in need of distraction.

4. Have a pamper session

If you’re really struggling to switch off and relax, having a ‘pamper session’ – aka, running a long, hot bath, taking time with your skincare and perhaps even giving yourself a facial massage – is a lovely way to treat yourself and take your mind off of the week ahead for a couple of hours.

Even doing something as simple as painting your nails will give you something to focus on and stop yourself from ruminating.

5. Try something new

If you often find yourself overwhelmed by anxiety on a Sunday evening, why not dedicate that time to learning something new or trying a new hobby? 

Not only will it give your mind something else to focus on, but it will also transform your Sunday evenings into something you can look forward to, rather than something to dread.

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Plus, with so many online learning resources out there these days, getting started is super easy. 

You can check out the many guides on Stylist’s very own online learning hub The Curiosity Academy to get started or sign up to one of the paid classes if you want something more structured.  

For more articles on dealing with Sunday night anxiety, you can check out the rest of the Sleepless Nights series. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.