Do you get them, too? The Sunday night blues?
Even as a child, I always felt morose on Sunday evenings. It would hit me as Dad hollered to us kids that it was time to go home. (You have to literally “holler” when your children are running wild over the church property, flushed with Capture the Flag and bellies full of ice cream.) It was always the same: I stared out the window of the back seat as we drove home, happy but sad. The fun, glorious weekend was over, and it was back to school and business as usual come Monday morning.
The feeling didn’t go away in college. In fact, it was even worse. Probably because when you’re in college the weekends are even more fun and glorious, and business as usual on Monday morning is harder than ever.
And I discovered something else that made me gloomy on Sunday evenings: regret. Sometimes I was simply bummed that I hadn’t maxed out the full potential of my weekend. I’d had such plans for all the things I’d accomplish in a mere two days. All the projects done and lingering to-dos crossed out permanently. I was always overambitious.
But now, after hundreds of Sunday nights feeling out of sorts, my blues are, for the most part, cured.
I’ll tell you how.
First, in the spirit of transparency, I have to disclose that part of the cure was getting married. I don’t know exactly why that helps, it just does.
There are two big takeaways that anyone can apply, though, and those are to pay attention to how you spend your Day of Rest (Sunday), and how you approach the other days of the week.
1. Make Sunday an actual day of rest
First, remind yourself that Sunday is the first day of the week, not Monday. Begin your week with joy and rest. Sunday is not the day to make up for lost time and attempt to be insanely productive. I know from experience that this can make you feel resentful and never fully recharged, and that’s not sustainable long term.
Here are a few simple things you can do to make Sunday restful and unstressful:
Have a make-ahead breakfast
A prepared breakfast leaves us time to relax on Sunday mornings and get to church on time(ish). Some of my favourite things to make ahead are cinnamon roll baked oatmeal, a freezer meal, or various pastries.
Don’t do anything work related
It’s tempting to do “just one little thing,” but that’s dangerous because it can quickly balloon to fill your time and suck away those precious leisure hours. Often, I try not to get on my laptop at all on Sundays, even for fun stuff. It’s healthy to have a day unplugged.
Keep the evening low-key
We usually have a very simple, cozy meal for supper, like takeout, smoothies and popcorn, or quesadillas and easy sides. We watch Netflix and head to bed early so we’re rested for the week ahead.
2. Have a good weekly routine to go back to, like a comfy pair of slippers
Every week I forgot and then rediscovered that Monday morning isn’t as bad as it seems on Sunday night. You just have to find your weekday rhythm–and it helps if it’s a good one. There are some circumstances you can’t control (for instance, a job you don’t like), but you are in charge of your attitude and you can choose joy. Choose joy when you face the dreaded unpleasant or the bleak mundane.
And when you can control your circumstances, be intentional. Design morning and evening routines that you can rely on, that you actually like, and that help you feel productive. Find your simple pleasures in the day-to-day. Have a meal plan (even a loose one), and a simple housekeeping routine–things that will give you structure.
Sunday night depression doesn’t have to be your norm. Yes, the evenings may occasionally still have a shade of blue about them, but you’ll find that even that is something to savor, like the minutes after a beautiful sunset. Bittersweet.
But mostly sweet.