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Beating The Sunday Night Blues

Dr. Deborah Cohen, School Counselor

Have you ever had a case of the Sunday Night Blues? That feeling of dread and anxiety that you feel on a Sunday —starting mid-day and stretching into the evening —as the weekend is ending and you anticipate the week ahead? This is an extremely common phenomena. In fact, a poll reported that 60-76% of Americans have the Sunday Night Blues (a.k.a. The Sunday Night Scaries) on a regular basis. It appears that MOST people experience this and it can affect children as well as adults. So, if your child is spending Sunday dreading Monday, here are some ideas of how to help.

First, feeling down on Sunday is often related to anticipatory anxiety, or the anxiety you feel when you think about all you need to accomplish in order to hit the ground running on Monday morning. Perhaps this includes getting homework done, studying for a quiz or test, or finishing a project or presentation. One way to counteract this type of anxiety is to tackle these daunting tasks early in the weekend. Instead of leaving homework or projects until Sunday afternoon or evening, you might consider getting them done on Friday evening or Saturday morning. In addition, if there are other things that need to be done in order to be ready for Monday, such as cleaning out a backpack or sorting through a Friday folder, these tasks could also be done Friday evening or Saturday morning. That way, you and your child can feel ready for Monday and relaxed on Sunday.

Another reason Sundays can trigger negative feelings is that it marks the end of the weekend —a time of fun, relaxation and unstructured time. One way to counteract this issue is to plan something enjoyable for Sunday afternoon/evening. So instead of being consumed with sadness or anxiety about the weekend ending, you and your child can be happily engaged in something you enjoy right up to the last of the weekend, such as a family movie night or dinner with family and friends. You might consider making such an activity a standing date so that over time, Sunday night will have new, positive associations.
Sunday Night Blues are often accompanied by difficulty sleeping. Ways to deal with this problem include making sure you don’t disrupt your sleep schedule by sleeping in or napping on Sunday, that you get vigorous exercise during the day, and that you use relaxation and/or mindfulness exercises to unwind before bedtime.

Finally, it always helps a blue mood to focus on what you are grateful for and to have things to look forward to. To that end, you can help your child make a list of all the things he or she likes about school and the things he will enjoy in the upcoming week. In addition, you might plan something enjoyable for Monday such as a specially prepared lunch, a fun after school plan, or a favorite evening meal or activity.

Sunday Night Blues is a common phenomenon for both kids and parents, but with some forethought and effort to change up routines, you and your child may be able to side-step Sunday angst and fully enjoy your weekend!

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