If Sunday nights fill you with dread- you know, that creeping feeling of anxiety as your weekend slips away and you feel the work week coming at you full speed- know that you’re not alone. A 2015 poll conducted by Monster.com reports that 76% of respondents in the U.S. confess to having “really bad” Sunday night blues.
Maybe it's just a natural consequence of having a job with an overwhelming workload. Perhaps it's teacher's guilt for daring to have a private life. Who knows? One thing that is for sure is that it is absolutely okay to have boundaries around your personal time. They are essential not only for your physical health, but also your emotional well-being.
Enjoying your weekend- all the way through a good night's sleep Sunday evening- shouldn’t be out of reach. You DESERVE it! Read on for 5 tips to help you beat the Sunday night blues.
#1: Do Your Best to Leave Work at Work
The first tip to beat the Sunday night blues is to stay on top of your workload during the week. That way you can walk out the door on Friday afternoon with a clear mind and a light heart. Need help getting organized? Check out these ideas to help you use your planning time more effectively.
Go in early, have a work session while your kids are in P.E., or stay a little later one or two days a week, if possible. Stay on top of grading and organization.
On Friday afternoon, be as organized as you can for next week before you leave school. Have at least a rough sketch of next week’s plans ready to go, organize the materials you’ll need, make copies, and clean off your desk.
Don't even give yourself the option of leaving it all for Monday morning. Nothing feels worse than sneaking in early only to find out that:
A) You’re not the only one with that idea.
B) The copy machine (or other equipment you need to use) is broken and/or…
C) An impromptu meeting with a student or staff member blows all your prep time and you start your week off feeling disorganized and scattered.
#2: Take Care of Your “Real Life” on Saturdays
For most of us, Saturdays are a marathon. You're rushing around tackling chores and errands like cleaning, grocery shopping, paying the bills, folding laundry, etc. If you have kids, you’re probably running around between sporting events, birthday parties, or other activities. Throw in a workout, a coffee chat with a friend, a date night, and the day is gone. Anyone else need a day between Saturday and Sunday?!
If you absolutely have to do school work over the weekend, try to get it done on Saturday. Then you can reserve one day that is 100% not school-related. Although it can be exhausting, it's worth it to work a little harder on Saturdays to have serious down time on Sundays. This definitely helps combat the Sunday night blues.
#3: Reserve Sundays For a Little “Me-Time”
It’s tempting to blaze through Sunday at a similar speed. But, it’s essential- especially for teachers whose workdays are jam-packed- to purposely structure time to rest and recharge. Otherwise, you head back to work on Monday morning more exhausted than when you arrived home on Friday afternoon!
It’s not selfish and it’s not a waste of time. It’s actually healthy and an investment in your long-term happiness.
Set aside time on Sundays to do something that fills your soul. Sleep in, go to church, get outside for a walk, snuggle up in your favorite chair and read a book, bake some cookies, etc. Anything that reminds you that yes, you do have a life and an identity outside of work. You are more than just, “Teacher!”
During the week you might be lucky to catch a quick shower, slap on some moisturizer and throw your hair up in a messy bun. Then run out the door. Set aside an hour or two for what I call “self-care Sunday.” Turn your bathroom into a mini-spa and take a long hot bath and play some relaxing music while you're at it! You might even add in a mani or pedi or do a mud mask!
A friend of mine loves to cook, so she spends Sunday afternoons filling her kitchen with the delicious meals and treats. She whips up 4 or 5 different dishes and packs them into containers. For her, it’s a relaxing, creative time. And as a bonus, she sets herself up with meals for the week.
Self-care doesn't look the same for everyone. Depending on the season of life you're in, do what works into your schedule and makes you feel good! These self-care tips for teachers can give you some more ideas on how to incorporate this into your life and conquer those Sunday night blues.
#4: Establish Sunday Night Traditions
Establish Sunday night traditions- a family dinner, game night, or movie night. Pick something that is meaningful to you and your family. Make it fun and easy- a time to be with your favorite people that you will all look forward to as a grand finale to the weekend. Purposefully planning a meaningful event will hopefully keep the Sunday night heebie-jeebies at bay.
Left unstructured, it’s easy to spend that time getting ramped up with to-do lists and anxiety over the coming week. A fun way to do this with the whole family is to have everyone write down an activity that they would love to do on Sundays. Toss the ideas in a jar and draw one out each week. This will be a fun family favorite!
#5: Tweak Your Mindset About Mondays
Instead of dreading the coming week, focus on the good things about Mondays. I love that each Monday is a fresh start. Anything stressful or unpleasant from the week before is in the rear view mirror and you and your students have the opportunity to once again come together and regroup as a community.
Hearing the students’ enthusiastic stories from the weekend and checking in with co-workers after a couple of days apart is the best. There's nothing better than a Monday chit-chat with your teacher friends to catch up on life!
Think up a few little things you can do to help you look forward to Mondays. Wear a new outfit, take turns making a coffee run before school with your teammates, pack your most delicious lunch of the week, plan an activity that you are excited about (and your students will be too).
Start your week by setting positive intentions. Take a minute to look at your class photo and spend a couple of seconds focusing on each little face as you prepare to greet them at the door. This helps you remember your priorities (the students!) and helps pump you up for a great start.
Although the Sunday night blues are a reality for a lot of people, it doesn't have to be that way! If you find you are a frequent victim, set a goal to put some mindful practices into place to help compartmentalize your weekends from your school days. You'll not only be healthier and more well-rounded, but it will leave you feeling rejuvenated and have an extra pep in your teacher step, making you an even better educator!