It’s a familiar feeling that starts to emerge at around 5pm on a Sunday. I imagine it is felt across the world, as people eat their dinner, realise that the weekend is nearly over, begin the inevitable routine of choosing Monday’s work clothes, rushing through some last-minute chores, thinking about the week ahead, settling down to watch a TV drama, then heading up to bed…all with a slight niggling feeling of sadness.
In our house we call it the “Sunday Squiggles”, a term invented by my 5-year-old daughter which sums up perfectly how I feel every week. Grown-ups might call it anxiety, nerves, apprehension or butterflies, but I think “Sunday Squiggles” has a good ring to it.
So what is this about? If I feel nervous about Monday, does that mean I am dreading going to work? Does the clean room technician who thinks, “I’m not sure I’m ready to wear all those overalls tomorrow” hate his job? Does the salesperson who thinks, “I can’t bear the thought of picking up the phone before midday” hate her work? In the vast majority of cases, the answer to these questions is “No”, though it can be easy to confuse such anxiety as a sign that we are truly unhappy at work (which might explain why Monday and Tuesday are the most popular times for making new job applications). I would bet you anything you like that, if you moved jobs, you would experience the Squiggles in exactly the same way within a matter of weeks.
One of the reasons I like the term “Sunday Squiggles” is that it strikes the right balance between acknowledging that there is an uncomfortable feeling being experienced, whilst not overstating its seriousness. Because, no matter how many times we go through this Sunday-Monday rollercoaster, more often than not everything is back to normal again by the end of Monday. If you get to Wednesday and you are still dreading work, then yes there quite possibly is a larger issue that needs to be addressed, whether it relates to work or something else entirely. But for most people, the rollercoaster is short-lived. Repetitive and frustrating, true, but short-lived. I love my job, but I still cannot imagine a Sunday without experiencing some kind of worry about the week ahead. Believe me, I have tried many different techniques to stop it, ranging from going for a run, playing music, talking about it, writing about it, going out with others, phoning family, and even cleaning the oven.
So, I am wondering why we experience the Squiggles, even if things are actually generally ok. Is it nature’s way of helping us to get into “work mode”? Is it a healthy psychological state to prepare us for the challenges ahead? Personally, I think it can be a really good thing, providing we take some time to acknowledge and think through what might be happening, and that the level of squiggle does not go beyond what you might all a “normal” or “acceptable” amount of anxiety. The key message is to be kind to yourself - and to others - at this time, because there are probably untold numbers of different things going on, most of which are perfectly healthy, which we cannot control and cannot explain.
Some interesting articles have been written about this, including https://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/emotional-health/why-you-feel-sad-on-sunday and https://blogs.psychcentral.com/success/2013/06/7-things-to-stop-sunday-night-anxietydepression/. There are lots of practical ideas for how you can reduce the general feeling of anxiety. But as much as possible, I would recommend going with it, experiencing it, acknowledging it, and realising that the Sunday Squiggles are a perfectly normal, pervasive experience which, more often than not, do not mean that anything majorly serious is happening.
Happy Monday everyone!!!