Talking about our mental health has never been more important – especially in a pandemic when so many of us have faced isolation and loneliness.
Did you feel anxious when you went to bed last night?
Do you get a feeling of dread each Sunday knowing you’re back to work the following day, and quite frankly, you just don’t know how you’ll face the week ahead?
This week we’re bringing you expert advice from Robert Gordon University psychology lecturer Dr Francis Quinn, who offers help on how to deal with Sunday night anxiety.
Anxiety – do I suffer from it?
“We live in an age of anxiety, especially when work can be more high pressured than it ever has been,” Dr Quinn explains.
“Often when people suffer from Sunday night dread, they experience a high workload, or it can be because of the sort of environment they’re in – or the type of work they do.”
Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- panic attacks
- chest pain
- feeling restless
Some people may experience all or just one of these symptoms. Often symptoms of anxiety can be so intense they can be confused with a heart attack.
Dr Quinn explained it’s normal to feel anxious about uncertain situations when you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“Anxiety is an emotion, it’s a sense of tension and apprehension that we get about the future, usually about a situation we think is going to be difficult, or that we think we’ll struggle to cope with,” he said.
What causes Sunday night anxiety?
Dr Quinn says the human mind likes to be able to control things; we like to know what’s coming and that if something happens we can deal with it.
Often we don’t feel that way on a Sunday when we look to the week ahead – and so our anxieties are triggered.
But anxiety can also be brought on by particularly stressful past experiences, as well as our current life situations.
The human mind tends to forecast how we’re going to feel in the future and this is known in psychology terms as affective forecasting, explains Dr Quinn.
He added that we’re often not accurate on predicting our future feelings – and so we anxiously worry about things which haven’t happened yet.
Research also suggests an imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline can cause anxiety.
Watch: how can I overcome Sunday night anxiety?
Dr Quinn says it can often help people to plan ahead at the end of each week. This could mean writing a list of things they still need to do, before distracting themselves with enjoyable activities at the weekend.
Thinking about specific problems and working out how they need to be addressed can often help too.
“Sometimes it’s easy to work with the situation, book an appointment with a manager or try to think about the structure of the week – or making some changes might be enough to alleviate the anxiety.”
Dr Quinn also offers five top tips on how to tackle feelings of anxiety.
Where can I go for help?
If you’re struggling with anxiety and it is having a negative effect on your life you can get help by talking to your GP.
Reframing techniques to help you look at a situation differently are also available online.
The free Breathing Space phoneline can also be contacted on 0800 838587 and there’s some great resources on the Anxiety UK charity website.