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The perfect day for anxiety to spike in anticipation of the work week. It is hard not to think about work when it is looming only a few hours away.
Let’s be honest–work is stressful. You might be walking on eggshells dealing with a critical boss who micromanages your every move. Perhaps you are stuck with difficult coworkers who you wish you never had to work with. Maybe you feel burned out from the constant barrage of emails and phone calls.
Regardless of the reason, your feelings related to work are valid. Work is demanding and can take a toll on you.
This is why your weekends are so precious. The last thing you want is to sabotage them by thinking about working on your time off. Not recharging your batteries is only making it exponentially harder to cope with work stress.
Here are five tips to fend off work-related anxiety and make the most of your weekends.
1. Don’t check your email.
We live in a fast-paced society where technology has blurred the boundaries between home and work life. At any instant, you can receive a work email with a last-minute request at the most inopportune time. Being easily accessible has created the illusion of urgency. When your phone rings with an email notification, you feel the urge to stop what you’re doing and respond instantly.
By responding immediately to work emails, you are training others to expect immediate gratification. This is only exacerbating your work-related anxiety, especially if this pattern of behavior occurs on the weekends.
Take a deep breath before responding to that email. Odds are a response can wait. Even if it is an important matter, does it warrant an immediate response? What would happen if you responded to it on Monday?
You can set healthy boundaries by only responding to emails during the work week. Arriving to work a little earlier on Monday morning can help you get a head start and respond to any pending emails from the weekend.
If you absolutely need to respond to emails on the weekends, designate specific times to complete this task, such as 30 minutes in the morning and the evening.
The last thing you want is to tumble into the endless spiral of compulsively checking your email throughout the entire weekend. You can avoid this trap by limiting the checking behavior.
2. Maintain the perspective.
The job of your brain is to protect you from any potential danger. Regardless if you are being attacked by a cheetah, fighting off a home intruder, or driving to work on Monday morning, your archaic brain does not know the difference. It just wants to protect you from the potential threat by activating your flight or fight response.
Keep the perspective. You are going to work tomorrow. You have made it through countless work days, and tomorrow will be no different. It will likely be a difficult and unpleasant day, but you have made it through such experiences before.
Embracing your ability to overcome adversity is a powerful antidote to anxiety.
3. Listen to your anxiety.
Though uncomfortable, anxiety can provide you with valuable information. If your job keeps you up at night or sabotages your weekends, then ask yourself why this is happening.
It may be that you are simply going through a busy period at work. If that is the case, you can reassure yourself that this transient phase shall pass.
Perhaps, you are dealing with a difficult coworker who is instigating trouble. Take some time to reflect on how to address the situation. There is a difference between worrying vs. problem-solving. Consider how to set healthy boundaries and which supports to mobilize.
The worst-case scenario is when there is no viable solution to your work stressor. You are working in a toxic environment where morale is low. Leadership is lacking. Your contributions are not recognized, and there is no prospect for upward mobility. Despite being assertive and advocating for yourself, you are continuously being taken advantage of.
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In such an unfortunate scenario, the time has come to explore your options. You might have to look outside your current job to improve your work situation. People change jobs every day. I have seen it countless times.
The options may not be ideal. You may have to settle for a longer daily commute or a pay cut. However, no job is worth compromising your physical or mental health.
4. Create a Sunday routine.
We are creatures of habit who enjoy structure and predictability. Worrying about the future is less likely when you are immersed in the present moment.
Counteract the wave of anticipatory anxiety by scheduling healthy and enjoyable activities on Sundays. You may consider going for a walk, getting together with loved ones for dinner, or wrapping up the weekend with a relaxing bath. The important thing is not to leave your Sundays open-ended, which creates a void that your brain will fill with worries. Being proactive can help keep your anxiety at bay.
5. Reward yourself on Mondays.
Thinking about Mondays elicits negative feelings because we associate this day with the end of the weekend repose and the start of the hectic work week.
Scheduling a fun activity for Monday evenings can ease such feelings. Looking forward to a reward can help you see beyond the busy work day.
Finally, if you are experiencing any difficulty with anxiety symptoms, please contact your local healthcare provider or mental health professional for help. In case of a mental health emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. Or, to find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.
For help 24/7, dial 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.