Beating the Sunday night blues

Gear up internally to face the week ahead

2005 study by the Families and Work Institute reports that 44% of American employees frequently feel overworked. “When you overextend yourself or take on too many tasks or responsibilities, you set yourself up for failure and dread starting the week ahead,” says Yvonne Bell-Gooden, a clinical psychologist in the Behavioral Health division of Milwaukee Health Services Inc. The thought of the impending workweek may illicit a range of feelings commonly known as the “Sunday night blues.” It affects each of us at some point during our lives.

“Sunday nights can be tough for anyone, regardless of how happy they are in their current employment situation,” says Ford R. Myers, president of Career Potential L.L.C. (www.careerpotential.net),a career counseling firm in Haverford, Pennsylvania. “No one wants to leave their family, home, and personal activities to go back to work on Monday morning.” The key is maximizing your weekend which in turn, eases the workweek transition.

Without a balanced approach to your weekend, you increase your chances of starting “the workweek feeling behind, exhausted, and sometimes overwhelmed,” says Bell-Gooden. The following are practical tips on how to keep the “blues” from playing in your head.

Tip #1: Get an early start on the week. Bell-Gooden suggests making a short, realistic to-do list that may include choosing your wardrobe or preparing meals. Devote time to get them done and out of the way.

Tip #2: Get moving in the here and now. Dedicate time for exercise and to participate in fun activities like dancing so “the body can release any pent-up stress,” suggests Bell-Gooden. Try to remain focused on the present. “We expend a great deal of energy worrying or anticipating possible obstacles that may or may not occur later in the week,” she says. Live in and enjoy the moment.

Tip #3: Make time to relax. “Pay attention to your emotional state as well as your thoughts: Are you feeling anxious, angry, depressed, or overwhelmed?” asks Bell-Gooden. If so, indulge yourself by doing what you enjoy-read a book like The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis et al. (New Harbinger Publications; $19.95), listen to music, or play your favorite video game. Block out uninterrupted “me” time.

Tip #4: Take honest stock of your feelings about your life. People who truly enjoy their work don’t get the “Sunday night blues,” says Myers. Either make a positive shift in your outlook and attitude about your career status, or reevaluate your career trajectory. “If you’ve been complaining about your life for a long time, you must take full responsibility for your situation and change it for the better,” he says.

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