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.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.