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Tapping Into the Teenage Brain: Tackling the "Sunday Scaries"

Aug 27, 2023

  The start of another school year means the start of another 40 rounds of the Sunday Scaries, those inevitable feelings of anxiety and dread about the upcoming week. If you feel them, you’re not alone; LinkedIn reports that 80% of professionals experience the Sunday Scaries on a regular basis. 


As I approach the start of a new school year (teachers start tomorrow with the students returning on Wednesday), I’ve decided to do things a little different this year when it comes to my weekends and especially my Sundays. 


Here are my NON-NEGOTIABLE habits I’m instituting this year to combat the Sunday Scaries and to have a much less stressful school year than last year:


1). Make a realistic (and short) to-do list on Friday afternoon

This year, before I leave work on Friday afternoon, I’m leaving a short to-do list on my desk with the Top 3 things I need to do when I get back on Monday morning. This is not a to-do list to do over the weekend; this is a “must do next week” list, so that I know exactly where I need to prioritize my energy when I return to work on Monday. I did this throughout the summer (I work in the summer, as my job is as a school administrator) and it was super helpful for me. I walked into the new week feeling a little less stressed … and I’ll take any less stress for sure. 


2). Sunday movement outside 

I’m going to make it a point to get out first thing on Sunday mornings to breathe in the fresh air, get some sunshine, and move my body. I usually take my dog, Birdie, out for a walk every morning but my Sunday walks are going to be a bit more intentional. I’m going to focus on walking slowly, noticing things around me, and let go of my agenda. 


3). Get my groceries delivered

One of my “grown up responsibilities” that I do every weekend (as I suspect nearly all of you do too) is my grocery shopping. And I despise grocery shopping. Making the list, meal planning for the week, actual shopping and then the dreaded “put the groceries away” task. So for this fall, I’m going to experiment with having my groceries delivered. I know I’m probably really late to the game on this, but I’m actually excited to have one less thing to do on a Sunday, which will ultimately allow me to have more fun on the weekends too. And speaking of fun …


4). Schedule “Jen Fun Time” into my weekend agenda

I’m choosing 3-4 hours each weekend to do something fun … for myself. This might be getting my nails done, going for a bike ride, taking a nap, binge watching Sex and the City (again), or anything else that I would consider “fun” for me at that time. And here’s the really tricky kicker I’m going to try: I’m going to try NOT to feel bad about using time for myself! I figure that having a little fun with my time might just help me feel better and less stress overall, which will definitely help me fight the Sunday Scaries.


5). Set my phone to Do Not Disturb at night

This is the hardest habit I’m going to start this year but I know it’s probably one of the most effective. I’m going to make a point to put my phone on Do Not Disturb from 8pm to 4am (4am is when I usually get up, to get my workout in). My goal is to prioritize my sleep this year, too, so I’m thinking by turning off my phone at 8pm and stopping all notifications (except from those who might need me in a true emergency), will help me to prioritize my sleep and rest. There’s nothing worse than seeing an email notification from an angry parent at 9pm on a Sunday, so I’m just going to silence that notification until Monday morning 🙂


Ultimately, I know that working with students, especially teenage students, takes a lot out of us. Prioritizing our health and well-being is crucial to being good to ourselves AND good at our jobs. We all know that burnout and stress is real - and scary - and although these small strategies just scratch the surface of stress in my life, I’m excited about how they might change the start of my weeks and my school year in general. 


If you end up trying these, let me know how they go at @the_teenage_brain_thing … I’d love to hear from you!

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