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How to beat Sunday Sadness

How to beat Sunday Sadness

Nicola Hopes

30 August 2022

I really hope you’ve had a break over the summer – perhaps somewhere hot and glamorous? Or maybe a campsite on a rainy clifftop in Wales? Hopefully it was fun either way. 

But now there’s no denying it’s back to work with a bang. 

We’re heading into September, and you’ve got 4 months to deliver the strategy, the projects or the numbers that you’re on the hook for in 2022. 

It would be easy to just dial up the intensity and dive headfirst into the to-do list. 

But… having had a break (for many of us the first real break since COVID) I’m now hearing a bit of malaise from some clients.  

Not so much ‘Yes, let me at them!’ but a bit more ‘Can it all just go away for a bit longer while I hold onto the holiday vibes?’. 

And it’s all leading to what I call ‘Sunday Sadness’ - that mild sinking feeling on a Sunday evening that feels a bit like you haven’t done your maths homework that’s due on Monday morning. 

If that’s you (or your team) – you’re not alone. 

Pre-pandemic research commissioned by LinkedIn and a similar study by The Sleep Judge

(an organisation that helps people get a good night's sleep)

suggests that up to 81% of people experience mild anxiety on a Sunday

– which can lead to irritability, poor mood, headaches and restless sleep. 

*Note: this is not clinical anxiety which obviously needs proper diagnosis and treatment. 

The effect is universal across professions and industries. And bizarrely, that percentage is higher for those who have a good relationship with their manager – because that can often lead to more work or higher expectations. 

And it’s even more worrying as we battle with the silent wave of ‘Quiet Quitting’. The phenomenon where, due to post-pandemic fatigue or a disillusionment with the corporate world, people are not outright quitting their job, but they’re quitting the idea of going above and beyond. 

So how to turn this around – for you and your team? 

A Sunday shot in the arm 

You’ve heard me bang on before about prioritisation and I’m always going to advocate for a laser focus on the things your organisation needs. 

But that doesn’t mean it has to feel like penance. You can still get it done, but in a way that doesn’t make you or your team dread it. 

Tip#1: Monday = funday  

  • I know clients (who shall remain nameless) who do all their 121s on a Monday morning. It feels like good sense when you’re planning for the week ahead… but inevitably brings problems to fix and difficult conversations with some folk who, frankly, sap your energy 
  • This also goes for stale Board meetings – as useful as the audit committee is of course 
  • Why not do those on a Friday or Tuesday and fill Monday with the people who have perspectives, ideas and attitudes that zap you with energy. Suddenly, Sunday night is the anticipation of some good conversations  

Tip#2: Projects passions 

  • Think about key projects that you or your team are responsible for – what would you enjoy having a greater role in? Can you balance that role with what’s good for the team and their development? 
  • If you can – then get stuck into the fun stuff! 

Tip#3: The gift of time  

  • If you’re someone who reflects over the weekend, using Monday morning for some thinking, creative, or planning time will feel like a gift 
  • Going to bed on a Sunday night knowing you can get up and get straight into how you can approach that key meeting, decision or presentation will feel very different from anticipating an 8am with Finance to discuss budgets (no offence to my Finance friends!) 

Rinse and repeat this for your team – because they also need to find the joy. 

Just a few small tweaks to minimise the Sunday Sadness will make the next few months feel a bit more doable and a bit more joyful.  

And who doesn’t need that? 

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