Self 14 October 2018
The following situation probably feels all too familiar: It's Sunday morning following a relaxing day off. Then, something reminds you of work in the morning, and you can feel your weekend ticking away. You remember everything you need to do this week, and anxiety hits you like a ton of bricks. This feeling, caused by fear of getting back up to speed after a weekend off, AKA the “Sunday Scaries" brings along anxiety, exhaustion, and nervousness with the looming work week hanging over your head.
The key to conquering the “Sunday Scaries" is to use Sundays to adopt a mindset of preparation and emotional awareness for the coming week. By intentionally changing your mindset to one of positivity and mindfulness will do wonders for your emotional health. Here are five mindfulness practices that anyone can exercise to eliminate the Sunday Scaries.
1. Ditch The Emotional Baggage
The first step is the most important one: stop carrying around so much emotional weight. Emotional baggage is the idea that your mindset is weighed down by inconsistencies between where you are and where you want to be. It's a disconnect between how you think of yourself, your situation, and your ideal state.
Relationship trouble with those close to you is a very common negative mindset. You need to get rid of any guilt, emotional baggage, or resentfulness towards those that you aren't on good terms with before the week begins. Resentment and guilt will weigh you down at work, and affect those around you in ways you don't even realize.
Letting go of this weight is an amazing feeling. To take the first step, consider taking up journaling. One of the best things you can do for your emotional self is to journal. Jotting down how your day went, and especially how you feel about how your day went, this has been scientifically proven to improve overall mental health. Take steps to journal and release feelings of negativity, then lay out tactful steps to resolve stressful relationships.
Sunday anxiety is often caused by the feeling that you're not prepared for the week but resist the urge to complete work items on Sundays. Instead of focusing on work itself, take care of the things that clutter your mind during the week. Take Sundays to deep clean your living space.
Dust the lamps you haven't touched in months, and scrub the floors until they shine. Ending the weekend by physically cleaning your surroundings will set the precedent to get right back into a productive routine, not to mention waking up Monday morning to a sparkly clean home!
This will reflect positively on your motivation and attitude as you start off the week, and is something I never fail to do each Sunday.
Another routine to consider for your Sundays is to prep meals for the week. Planning out your meals can do wonders for your mindset. It frees up time during the week when you're rushing around with work and errands. Budgeting is a huge stress for a lot of people.
Meal prepping saves you money because you don't have to eat out for lunch at the office. And, depending on what you cook, it can make sticking to diets and eating healthier a breeze. When the anxiety in your mind simply won't let you relax, channel it into something productive like cleaning or cooking.
3. Get Outside
It's as simple as walking out your front door. Go for a walk, hike or run in a scenic environment. This isn't just about exercise (although it can calm your mindset) so get off the treadmill, and get outside! Doing so will allow you to reconnect with nature and increase your visual perception.
Take in as much as you can: the trees, the grass, the birds chirping, whatever happens to be around you. This is a form of meditation that reconnects you to the world around you. Practice mindful walking by slowing down and paying attention to the sensation of walking. Mindful walking means focusing on the journey, and not the destination.
Taking a break and going for a walk outside is great for whenever you face anxiety. It's a reset for your brain, which is probably spinning in circles around the same few problems. A change of scenery, especially one abundant with nature and life, changes your perspective.
It can be exactly what you need to reset your mindset to one of calm and focus. One of my favorite mindfulness practices is letting nature act as a reminder that there is so much out there that's bigger than yourself and the seemingly catastrophic challenges you face.
4. Disarm Your Inbox
When it's work relationships causing your Sunday stress, spend an hour or less on Sunday afternoons to respond to as many emails as possible. This means that you aren't overwhelmed on Monday morning. Doing this will allow you to go to bed Sunday night knowing you are already ahead for the new week.
Depending on your job, consider turning off email notifications once you've replied to those high priority emails. Even if you don't need to respond, knowing that there's an email waiting can create an uneasy mindset.
You might even go so far as to do a digital cleanse on part or all of your Sunday. This is where you turn off your phone and other gadgets and bask in the joy of not being bugged by notifications. It can do wonders for your emotional and mental self, even if it's just for a few hours.
Mindfulness in our digital world is hard to achieve. Figure out how you can coexist with your digital life in a way that serves you. We all have that one app that we scroll through mindlessly in our downtime. If you have a digital habit that isn't serving you, get rid of it.
5. Don't Forget to Smile!
Remember, work gets your mind and attention for (at least) 40 hours every week. That's already a quarter of your week, not counting commuting or overtime. Weekends are there for you to recharge so you can do your best work during the week.
On Sunday evenings, do something that makes you smile. Watch something funny or light, whether it's an episode of your favorite TV series or a comedy. If you're doing a digital cleanse, pick up a book you read for leisure, not one that's work related. Doing this will take your mind off work, not to mention laughter has a positive effect on the mind!
Mindfulness is a habit, not something you can check off a list. Start small by creating a routine on Sundays using the five mindfulness practices above.
The more you work this muscle, the better off you'll be emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Change your mindset in this way and you'll soon see your life change for the better.
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With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.