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New Study Reveals the Top 5 ‘Sunday Scaries’ Triggers Among Employees and Your Boss is One of Them!

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Work can be a common cause of stress for many, but not all stress is on company time. The phenomenon known as the “Sunday Scaries” is an anxiety experienced the day before returning to work. Despite the name, this is experienced by many before returning to work after time off, no matter what day of the week it is. 

A recent study by Currys explored the typical work-related stressors and asked 1500 Brits if they could relate. Out of those asked, over half (54%) admitted they suffer from Sunday Scaries. Those that said they struggled with this pre-work dread were then asked to share the ones they struggle with the most. 

The one that topped the list was the harrowing “boss wants to talk” experience with 35% selecting this as one of their work-related anxieties. Receiving a no-context message from the boss asking for a ‘chat’ seems to be a very common worry amongst UK employees. 

Next was “overdue deadlines” which was chosen by 27% of the study respondents suffering with Sunday Scaries. Leaving work on a Friday knowing that deadlines have been missed doesn’t make for an easy Monday which is why many struggle with this anticipation on a Sunday night. 

And almost a quarter (24%) of those that suffer with this Sunday night work anxiety actually find “going to the office” one of their biggest triggers. This could be due to other anxieties such as “forced fun”, “office small talk” or dealing with “background noise” which also feature in the list, or it could be due to the way working has changed post- pandemic, with many now working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement.  

In fact, according to Google trends, searches for “work-from-home jobs” have increased by 110% over the past 12 months. 

Brits’ top 12 “Sunday scaries”  

  Rank Work related stressor % of those who chose it 
Boss wants to talk 35% 
Overdue deadlines 27% 
Going into the office 24% 
Email mistakes 22% 
Forced fun with colleagues 21% 
Office small talk 17% 
Lunchtime meetings 17% 
Imposter syndrome 16% 
Colleague(s) oversharing 16% 
10 Background noise 14% 
11 Being told “You’re on mute!” during a meeting 12% 
12 Teams/Slack call sound 11% 

Currys also sought the advice of Navit Schechter, an experienced CBT therapist and mental health writer who specialises in work-based issues and anxiety disorders, to help those suffering with work-related anxieties in the long run. She said:

“If you dread the thought of work on a Sunday because your role doesn’t fulfil you, you don’t have enough support, there are unclear expectations on you, you’re working with difficult personalities, you feel overwhelmed with everything you’re expected to do or similar then being honest with yourself about what the problem is and seeking to find a solution will help you in the long-run.” 

“If you’re being given too much work or not enough support, speak to your manager. If the role doesn’t fulfil you or you think you’d do better in another team, look for another job. Finding a role that fulfils you and that you’re passionate about, or a team you enjoy working with can make the thought of another week at work much easier to bear.” 

Navit also gave five quick tips that people can implement now to improve their mental wellbeing and decrease their Sunday Scaries. 

1) Breathing exercises – Breathing exercises help to calm down the fight-or-flight system and help us feel less anxious. Doing a breathing exercise when you notice you’re feeling anxious or before you start to switch off for bed can help you to feel calmer all round. 

2) Journaling – Getting your thoughts and feelings out can give you a feeling of relief and help you develop a different perspective. Talking to a friend or family member that you trust or writing your thoughts and feelings down in a journal are both great ways of doing this. 

3) Gratitude – When we’re in difficult situations, we tend to focus on the difficult or painful parts of them. Most situations have pros and cons and actively searching for, and paying attention to, the parts of your job that you like or are grateful for can shift the balance and change the way you feel. It might be one co-worker that you have, a short commute or just the fact that you have a job that pays you, but focusing on the benefits of your job, as well as the difficulties, can help you to feel more balanced. 

4) Switch off from technology – Avoiding screens for at least an hour before bed as well as turning off your phone, leaving it downstairs or even turning off the Wi-Fi overnight can help you to get a break from technology. It can be over-stimulating and stop you from being able to switch off and relax. 

5) Be present – If your mind wanders and you find yourself thinking about the week ahead, worrying or feeling overwhelmed, switching your attention back to your present moment can help you to feel calmer. When we think about potential future events, we tend to catastrophise what might happen, how it will affect us or how we’ll cope while creating more stress for ourselves. Focusing on the present moment can help you feel more grounded and less stressed so that you have more energy and reserves to deal with the week ahead. 

You can experience the work worries others face in Currys interactive “Monday from Hell” here:  https://www.currys.co.uk/techtalk/how-to/monday-hell.html

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