It’s Sunday night, and suddenly the blues—and no, we’re not talking music—are coming on.
You might know the feeling. In one study cited by CNN, 81 percent of people “said they experience an elevated sense of anxiety on Sunday in anticipation of the week ahead.” While some people start to feel the blues in the morning or in the afternoon, 57 percent start feeling stressed on Sunday evening.
According to the study, those feelings of stress can persist whether you’re happy with your job or not, and whether you work in the office or from home. They can also negatively impact your sleep, making the week ahead worse.
Feeling down on Sunday isn’t just an issue that adults face, either. In a 2018 New Era article, writer Alyssa Nielsen explained that she struggled with feelings of stress and sadness every Sunday morning, hiding under her covers for an extended amount of time before getting up for church.
“The scriptures say the Sabbath day is a holy day, a joyful and delightful day, a day of rest, a day to celebrate. But a few years ago, while in my late teens, I found Sundays miserable. Instead of peace, I felt stress. Instead of joy, sadness. Instead of hope, guilt. I had a full-on case of the Sabbath blues,” she said.
Of course, it’s important to evaluate feelings of anxiety you might be having and determine whether you need to seek help or implement other changes to find relief from them. But if you’re just feeling a bit down about the weekend slipping away, here are some ideas to help you beat those Sabbath blues and make Sundays more of a delight.
Take Time to Unwind
Before the stress of Monday settles in, take time on Sunday evening to relax both your body and your mind. Not sure where to start? On BYU’s Counseling and Psychological Services website there are a number of recordings you can listen to that can help bring your Sunday to a peaceful close. Recordings cover breathing, meditation, muscle relaxation, visualization, lyrical music, body awareness, and more. These relaxation techniques also have a number of health benefits and depending on which one you focus on, they can help with things like blood pressure, migraines, obsessive thinking, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, and muscle spasms.
Go on a Sunday Walk
According to CNN, there have been several studies about the health benefits of going on walks. From reducing stress levels to lowering “activity in the region of the brain that focuses on repetitive negative thoughts,” walking is an easy way to help with Sunday sadness. It also gives you an opportunity to meditate and ponder while enjoying God’s creations. Plus, Business Insider reports that walking in nature, specifically walking among the trees, can improve your short-term memory. Being outdoors can also help with mental fatigue and inspire a feeling of awe. Can’t get outside? One study found that simply looking at pictures of nature can help your mental energy bounce back. So whatever you have time for when facing those feelings of sadness on Sunday, you might want to consider keeping Sunday walks and enjoying nature high on your list.
Give a Sign to God
In his 2015 general conference address, President Russell M. Nelson shared that in his younger years he made a list of things to do and not do on the Sabbath. But later, instead of making that list, he started to ask himself, “What sign do I want to give to God?”
He then asked listeners the same question: “What sign will you give to the Lord to show your love for Him?”
So before the Sunday scaries sneak up on you, try determining what sign you want to give to God that day to show your love for Him and see if focusing on it changes the way you feel at night. That sign could be any number of things—maybe it’s replacing time on social media with family history, or journaling about how you’ve seen God during the last week before looking at the one coming up.
The sign you give God to show your love for Him is personal, but perhaps as you focus on that sign, some of the stress you feel at the prospect of starting another week will be less at the forefront of your mind and your Sunday nights will feel a little less blue.
Create an Incentive
If you wish Sunday night wouldn’t end, give yourself an incentive to wake up the next morning to start your week off right. According to NPR, that incentive doesn’t have to be complicated—a mindfulness exercise or a toaster waffle when you wake up may be all the motivation needed to get out of bed.
You could also plan on making your Monday mornings your spiritual boost at the beginning of your week. Maybe that means reading your patriarchal blessing to remind you of your purpose before heading out the door. Or you could go on a walk while listening to something uplifting to reset for the days ahead. Whatever it is, giving yourself something to look forward to Monday morning might just make your Sunday evenings more peaceful.
Make Your Own Scripture Study Pattern
Between attending church, fulfilling your calling, serving others, and spending time with friends or family, sometimes Sundays feel busy instead of restful. When that’s the case, having your own personal time to ponder and read the scriptures might be hard to come by. If that’s been your experience, you might want to try taking President Henry B. Eyring’s advice of establishing a pattern for when you read your scriptures, and then do your best to keep that habit on Sundays when your schedule is different than normal.
“The only way I can be sure that my busy schedule doesn’t crowd out scripture study is to use a regular time to study the scriptures,” President Eyring wrote. “I have found that the beginning and the end of the day work well for me. Those are times I can usually control. … When I am in situations where I break out of that pattern, it’s hard on me.”
Even if you have a scripture study pattern down, you might still feel worried about what awaits you in the week ahead. In that instance, this next piece of President Eyring’s advice could come in handy. When wondering what Heavenly Father would have him do when he was first called as an Apostle, President Eyring said he sought out answers in the scriptures and marked them with his own system, eventually developing his own topical guide full of answers. He then understood what the Lord wanted him to do.
“Going to the scriptures to learn what to do can make all the difference. When I have come to a crisis in my life, I have gone to the scriptures looking for specific help. The Lord seemed to anticipate all of my problems and needs, and He put help in the scriptures for me—if only I seek it,” he shared.
So on Sundays if you’re stressed, you might want to use that regular time you’ve dedicated for your scripture study to find answers about what the Lord wants you to do in the week ahead. And whatever issue or challenge you might be facing, writing down the answers in your own topical guide could be a helpful tool to refer to during your week.
Offer a Prayer of Gratitude
During his invitation to #GiveThanks in 2020, President Nelson spoke about the healing power of gratitude. In his worldwide message, he shared several psalms of thanksgiving and gave examples of how the Savior expressed gratitude, like giving thanks to God before raising Lazarus from the dead and before multiplying the loaves and the fishes.
“Over my nine and a half decades of life, I have concluded that counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems. No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription,” he said.
With this in mind, when Sunday night creeps up on you and the week is looming ahead, perhaps you could consider offering a prayer of gratitude for the previous week and the things that brought you joy. Or on Monday morning, you could offer a prayer of gratitude for the week ahead to start your day off on a positive note.
“Does gratitude spare us from sorrow, sadness, grief, and pain?” President Nelson asked in his message. “No, but it does soothe our feelings. It provides us with a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life.”
So while it might not completely remove challenges we may be facing for the week, maybe expressing our gratitude in prayer can give us more perspective as we look forward to the days ahead, making our Sunday nights just a little more peaceful.
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Whatever you end up doing to feel less of those Sunday blues, remember that first and foremost this day of worship is about renewing your covenants and deepening your relationship with Heavenly Father and the Savior. So as long as you keep that focus, everything else will fall into place. It might take some time, trial and error, and patience, but if you rely on Him and trust in the process, you can rest assured that He will show you the way.