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.
5 Min Read
You may recognize Judge, Tanya Acker, from her political and legal commentary on different networks and shows like Good Morning America, The Talk, Wendy Williams, CNN Reports or The Insider. Acker is more than an experienced commentator. She is also a Judge on the fifth season of Emmy nominated CBS show, Hot Bench.
Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life.
The show, created by Judge Judy, is a new take on the court genre. Alongside Acker, are two other judges: Patricia DiMango and Michael Corriero. Together the three-panel judges take viewers inside the courtroom and into their chambers. “I feel like my responsibility on the show is, to be honest, fair, [and] to try and give people a just and equitable result," Acker says. She is accomplished, honest and especially passionate about her career. In fact, Acker likes the fact that she is able to help people solve problems. “I think that efficient ways of solving disputes are really at the core of modern life.
“We are a very diverse community [with] different values, backgrounds [and] beliefs. It's inevitable that we're going to find ourselves in some conflicts. I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.
Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life. Particularly, her time working right after college impacted the type of legal work she takes on now.
Shaping Her Career
Acker didn't foresee doing this kind of work on television when she was in college at either Howard University or Yale Law. “I was really open in college about what would happen next," Acker comments. “In fact, I deliberately chose a major (English) that wouldn't lock me into anything [because] I wanted to keep all of my options open." Her inevitable success on the show and throughout her career is an example of that. In fact, after graduating from Yale, Acker served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Dorothy Nelson who sits on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
It was not only her first job out of law school but also one of the formative experiences of her professional life. “[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law," she exclaims. “She delivers it all with a lot of love." Judge Nelson is still on the bench and is continuing to work through her Foundation: The Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California, where Acker serves on the board. The foundation helps people seeking alternative ways of resolving their disputes instead of going to court.
"I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.
“It was important to her to try and create platforms for people to resolve conflict outside of court because court takes a long time," Acker explains. “I'm proud to be a part of that work and to sit on that board."
After her clerkship, she was awarded a Bristow Fellowship and continued building her career. Outside of the fellowship, Acker's legal work incorporated a broad variety of matters from civil litigation, constitutional cases, business counseling, and advising. One of her most memorable moments was representing a group of homeless people against the city. “They were being fought for vagrancy and our defense was, they had no place to go," she shares.
As part of her pro bono work, Acker was awarded the ACLU's First Amendment Award for her success with the case. Though, she has a hard time choosing from one of many memorable moments on Hot Bench. Acker does share a few of the things that matter to her. “Our show is really drawn from a cross-section of courtrooms across America and the chance to engage with such a diverse group of people really means a lot to me," she discusses.
How Did Acker Become A Judge?
In addition to Judge Nelson, Judge Judy is certainly among her top professional influences. “I think it's incredible [and] I feel very lucky that my professional career has been bookended by these incredible judges," she acclaims. “I've really learned a lot from Judy about this job, doing this kind of job on television." Before Acker was selected for Hot Bench, she hadn't been a judge. It was Judge Judy who recommended that she get some experience. Acker briefly comments on her first experience as a temporary judge on a volunteer basis in traffic court. “I was happy to be able to have the chance to kind of get a feel for it before we started doing the show," she comments. “Judy is a wonderful, kind, generous person [and] she's taught me quite a lot. I feel lucky."
Photo Courtesy of Annie Shak.
Acker's Time Away From Home
Outside of Hot Bench, Acker took recent trips to Haiti and Alabama. They were memorable and meaningful.
Haiti, in particular, was the first trip she excitedly talks about. She did some work there in an orphanage as part of LOVE Takes Root, an organization that is driven to help children around the world whether it's basic aid or education. “Haiti has a special place in my heart," she began. “As a person who's descended from enslaved people, I have a lot of honor and reverence for a country that threw off the shackles of slavery."
She was intrigued by the history of Haiti. Especially regarding the communities, corrupt government and natural disasters. “They really had to endure a lot, but I tell you this when I was there, I saw people who were more elegant, dignified, gracious and generous as any group of people I've ever met anywhere in the world," she goes on. “I think it left me with was a strong sense of how you can be graceful and elegant under fire." Acker is optimistic about the country's overall growth and success.
“[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law."
“There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," Acker says. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving."
Her other trip was different in more ways than one. She traveled there for the first time with her mother as part of a get out to vote effort, that Alabama's First black House Minority Leader, Anthony Daniels was organizing. “It was incredible to take that trip with her [and] I've got to tell you, the South of today is not the South of my mother's upbringing," she explains. Originally from Mississippi, Acker's mother hasn't been back in the South since 1952. “Every place has a ways to go, but it was a really exciting trip [and] it was nice for me to connect with that part of the country and that part of my history."
Overcoming Racial Barriers
As a black woman, Acker has certainly faced challenges based on her race and gender. But it doesn't define who she is or what she can accomplish. “There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," she says. “There's no sort of barrier that someone would attempt to impose upon me that they didn't attempt to impose on my mother, grandmother or great-grandmother." In a space where disparity is sometimes apparent, she recognizes that there is no barrier someone would try to impose on her that they didn't attempt to impose on her mother or grandmothers. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving," Acker states. The conversation continues truthfully and seriously. Acker shares what it can be like for black women, specifically. “I think we're underestimated and we can be disrespected, whereas other folks are allowed the freedom to enjoy a full range of emotions and feelings," she articulates.
At times black women are often restricted from expressing themselves. “If someone wants to make an assumption or jump to a conclusion about me because of my race or gender, that's on them, but their assumptions aren't going to define me," Acker declares. “If something makes me angry or happy I will express that and if someone wants to caricature me, that's their pigeonholing; that's not my problem." A lifelong lesson she learned and shared is to not let other people define who you are. It is one of three bits of wisdom.
Three Pieces Of Advice From Judge Acker
The Power Of Self-awareness
“It's really important that you have a really firm sense of what you want to do and be, and how you're moving in the world because when people try to sway you, judge you or steer you off course you've got to have some basis for getting back on track."
Know Your Support System
“Have a strong community of people who you trust, love and who love you," she advises. “But also learn to love and trust yourself because sometimes it's your own voice that can provide you the most comfort or solace in something."
Learn From Your Experiences
“Trust yourself. Take care of yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself. Be honest with yourself.
“There are times when it's not enough to say this is who I am. Take it or leave it. Sometimes we've got things that we need to work on, change or improve upon," she concludes.
Acker stands out not only because of her accomplishments, but the way she views certain aspects of her life. These days, she's comfortable accepting what makes her different. “I think there's a time when you're younger when conformity feels comfortable, [but] I'm comfortable these days not conforming," she laughs. She enjoys being a decision maker and helping people work through it on Hot Bench.
This article was originally published May 15, 2019.