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.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.