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 how sophrology exercises can be used to alleviate the Sunday Scaries.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of dread which creeps in on a Sunday evening, is there? Despite your best attempts to push away thoughts of the week ahead – to “make the most” of your time off and forget about work for a little while longer – they somehow find a way in.
We’re talking, of course about Sunday night anxiety – or the ‘Sunday Scaries’, as it is often called. A form of anticipatory anxiety (a type of anxiety characterised by an overwhelming feeling of dread about something that is due to happen) about the week ahead, especially in response to the idea of returning to work, Sunday night anxiety can be really disruptive for those who suffer from it.
“Not wanting the weekend to be over or experiencing disappointment about not being able to lie in the next day is very much expected, and happens to all of us. However, if these thoughts start to manifest into a concern or even a fear that occupies your thoughts at length, or starts to hinder your day and mood, you may well be experiencing the Sunday Scaries,” explains Dominique Antiglio, sophrologist at BeSophro clinics and author of The Life-Changing Power Of Sophrology.
“For some people, it can become chronic enough that they spend the whole day carrying the anxiety around, which has a negative impact on their stress levels, physical recuperation, social lives and mental health.”
Of course, if your Sunday night anxiety is being triggered by a toxic workplace environment that is placing significant pressure on your mental health, it might be time to consider a change in job or career.
However, if this isn’t the case, there are still some things you can do to manage your feelings and feel less anxious about the week ahead. Here, Antiglio suggests two sophrology exercises to help you manage your feelings of Sunday night anxiety right here, right now.
1. Try the ‘bubble’ visualisation exercise
“Upon waking on Sunday, one of the most helpful things you can do to quell your anxiety is to practice setting a more positive and productive intention for the day. This helps you to bring clarity and focus so you are less likely to dwell or be preoccupied at length with the anxiety. A really powerful and proven technique to address this is a sophrology visualisation exercise called the ‘Bubble’, as follows.”
• Sitting forward in a chair, breathe easily, close your eyes and start to visualise yourself sitting into a bubble.
• Think about how it looks – is it large or small, close to you or very big around you, transparent or a coloured hue?
• Tune into how calm you’re starting to feel, and picture all your anxiety and stressors on the other side of the bubble – they can’t touch you and you are protected. Think about how reassured and secure that makes you feel. Sit with this feeling for as long as you need, and when you feel like you can take that feeling away with you for the day, open your eyes and continue with your day.
2. Rid yourself of negative emotions with the ‘bag’ technique
“Techniques that engage both the mind and body can be much more effective in quelling anxiety as you have two powerful systems working in unison for one common goal – where the mind goes, the body should follow. Try an empowering technique called the ‘bag’ to rid yourself of negative emotions when they take hold during the day – it will help to clear the associated weight and tension effectively, reinstate your sense of control, and really help to lighten the metaphorical load.”
• With your eyes closed, stand about a metre-and-a-half in front of a wall and imagine there is a target on that wall, and on that target is a bag.
• Think about the negative feelings, one by one, that have surfaced and picture taking a hold of them and placing each one into the bag.
• You can put any feeling, situation or conversation into this bag – but not actual people.
• Hold out your hand as you picture holding the bag, using your other hand to ‘physically’ place it into the bag – name each one that goes in. When done, ‘close’ the bag.
• Now, assume a position of strength and picture symbolically crushing the bag until the pieces fall to the ground. You might picture crushing the remaining pieces with your feet until everything has disintegrated, like all those negative associations you previously carried around.
This article was originally published in 2019 and has since been updated throughout.