Oh, okay. There’s a name for the impending doom I feel on Work Week Eve . . .
It’s Sunday morning, you wake up naturally without an alarm and depending on what you got up to last night, you eventually open your eyes and one of the first questions your brain might ask you is, “So . . . what are we going to do today?” Maybe you even had plans for the day — some chores, maybe catching up on your shows, reading that book, who knows. But there seems to be a very common behavior that ensues on Sunday, so much so that there is now a term for it: The Sunday Scaries.
The Sunday Scaries refers to that sense of knowing the work week is tomorrow and the reactionary effort to savor every last bit of freedom you have left in the sacred hours of Sunday afternoon and evening. Even if you set yourself up for a great work week and a productive Saturday, it seems this year has put a universal spin on such a high level of anxiety that hits us on Sunday. And it doesn’t have to be on Sunday — if your last day off before another bout of work shifts happens to fall on any other day of the week, you are still exposed to the risk of S.S.
But why? Even if we love our job, eh, even if we don’t hate our job it still seems like there’s an uncomfortable internal transition our bodies are preparing us for: getting out of relax-mode and back into do-mode.
Well, my anxious friends, despite how different our work-play lives may be, our evolutionary response to anything we perceive as a threat is pretty much identical. The general skeleton of Sunday Scaries is really just our primal brains using fight, flight or freeze mode as a response to the question we ask ourselves on Work Week Eve: “What are we going to do today?” Of course that question can take many forms and it may not be a question at all. When you feel a sense of realization that tomorrow is Monday that is your primal brain alerting you that change in routine is coming, to prepare for that change, and to self soothe and protect yourself from change. To the primal brain, change is bad. Change is danger. Queue: Survival mode.
But here’s the thing: our primal brain and our survival mode did not evolve with our modern lifestyle, our work, our society, our civilization. We still have the same survival mode as our ancestors who tracked down and hunted food for the tribe. Knowing that our Sunday Scary behavior is simply our primal brain talking to us is Step One in dealing with the very strong voice our survival mode still has.
Here’s another thing: YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS. You existed before your thoughts formed, before your remembered experiences that influence your behavior; before anything else, you were born. You are energy. Everything else — your thoughts, feelings, behaviors — is born from you. And a lot of the time, what we think, feel and do are unconscious and formed from an experience we had that taught us to think, feel, or do a certain thing in order to protect ourselves. And that is how our primal survivor brain has recalibrated its purpose in our so very fancy, modern lives. In other words, you were born and learned to survive into your adulthood, all of those lived experiences have taught you subtle behaviors, thought patterns, and ways of feeling and have managed to keep you alive this far. Survival mode has done its job. You’re alive. You’re getting by.
Sunday Scaries can look like a lot of things depending on what you learned was a successful response to fear/change/threat. What makes that response successful? The ability to self soothe and decrease the perceived threat. Whatever patterns of behavior you notice on Sundays, those are the behaviors your survival brain has deemed as successful in response to the fear of Mondays.
What if we could change our perception though? What if Mondays became exciting and not fearful? Well thanks to neuroplasticity and the pre-frontal cortex, we can literally re-wire our brains and change how we think and therefore respond to Work Week Eve. Let’s read part two of this blog for tips on how to do just that.