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How to Avoid Burnout & the Sunday Scaries

We have all been there. It’s the weekend — we are pumped, excited to finally and give the brain a rest. We have a few things planned for Saturday, but it passes by relatively uneventfully.

But then, Sunday comes. And at some point in time during the day — for me it’s right around 3pm — you get a sense of existential dread in your stomach.

We’ve all had them and they are not fun. But they are avoidable — at least to a certain extent.

I have anxiety and know that I very much used to struggle with the Sunday scaries. And I still do to this day, but it’s a lot less of existential dread and more of hmm, I guess we’re here again.

And that is because I’ve changed a few things about my weekend to make this all just a little bit more manageable.

Finish Friday strong

Nothing sets you up for a dreadful weekend like ignoring important tasks that come up on Friday. In the moment, you might be thinking “screw it, it can wait.” But when you get home on Friday evening, you know that you’re still thinking about those unfinished tasks. When it gets to 2pm on Friday and you know you’re ready to call it a week — that’s when you should chug some espresso and grind out the last 3 hours of work so that you can feel like you have earned the weekend.

Know your most important items for next week

Finishing Friday strong is key, but the simple truth is that we can’t get everything done on Friday. There may be certain tasks that truly can wait — and with those, you should write them down or put them on your calendar for the following week. Send meeting invites to people you need to meet with. Prep for the week ahead so that you can avoid wasting any time figuring out what to work on when Monday rolls around.

Check email once or twice to know what’s in store for you Monday morning

Do you ever find yourself relaxing Saturday afternoon, and then realize that there are probably things in your inbox that are already begging for your time? And then, you try to ignore thinking about it — but just find yourself more and more stressed out? The solution to that is to understand that you are a driven individual who thinks about work — accept it, and check your email. Just for 15 minutes — set a timer if you have to. But check in, and usually you will realize that there are less things waiting for you than you expected. That’s a great feeling that can help you to find peace for the rest of your weekend.

Do active things that you enjoy

As an anxious Type A high-achiever, I find myself more stressed about work and what I’m not doing when I sit around watching TV than when I go for a hike with some friends, or any other ACTIVE activity.

The opposite of happiness is not sadness — it’s boredom. And you have a recipe for boredom if you are just sitting in front of the TV. Don’t lie to yourself and convince yourself that it is relaxing — it’s lazy. Enjoy it for the first hour, and then watch as you find yourself seated there for hours on end, with no fulfillment or end in sight.

Get off your butt, and go to the gym, for a hike, to watch a sporting event — whatever, just don’t sit glued to the TV in a catatonic state.

Self-reflection is always important

A man decides not to brush his teeth for four days. He walks into a crowded room one evening for a networking event. Everybody in the room knows that his breath smells horrid, except for him — and his nose is merely 2 inches from his mouth. That is why deliberate self-reflection is so critical.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool — Richard Feynman.
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