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When you become part of the workforce, life takes a twist with financial independence countered by corporate slavery and a fixed routine countered by existential fatigue. In the quest to find happiness, we look towards Fridays, even before the previous weekend ends. #TGIF and #MondayBlues are a part of our everyday social media dialect, so when the weekend actually arrives, the illusion of fun and relaxation lures us, shooting our expectations really high. Fridays are exciting, with the whole two days ahead of us. Saturdays are nice with no real obligations to fulfill. But Sundays are a curious case, building up angst and apprehension for the coming work week. And guess what? The world has a term for it. It is called Sunday Neurosis.

Image Source: The New York Times

Sunday Neurosis: What Could That Be?

Austrian psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Viktor E. Frankl who was a concentration camp inmate during the Second World War coined the term “Sunday Neurosis” and explained it as “that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.”

his feeling is more relevant today than it ever was, with career-oriented individuals giving their entire selves be consumed into their work during the five working days of the week, and feeling a sense of emptiness and restlessness during the weekend, especially on Sundays.

In other words, if one experiences this, they don’t have a very meaningful life. This feeling is more relevant today than it ever was, with career-oriented individuals giving their entire selves be consumed into their work during the five working days of the week, and feeling a sense of emptiness and restlessness during the weekend, especially on Sundays.

Image Source: AZ Quotes

A study in the Journal of Applied Economics found that, employees with a high level of education might suffer from Sunday Neurosis. According to another study, called the German Socio-Economic Panel, by professor Wolfgang Maennig, both men and women with high levels of education had lower “life satisfaction values” on the weekends than they did during the week. The study also found that men with lower levels of education didn’t experience a variation in happiness between days of the week, but experienced a downturn at the end of the month. For lower-educated workers, the dip in satisfaction at the end of the month could be because of living conditions to paycheck or because of liquidity problems. The authors didn’t give much insight into why there were weekly differences though.

Also read: Everyday Is Mental Health Day—Notes From My Life Journal

Why Do We Feel The Way We Do About The Most ‘Relaxing’ Day Of The Week?

A few speculations have been made. We find comfort in routine, so much so that the looseness or a complete lack of it tends to make us dizzy with anxiety and maybe even with feelings of guilt, for the idea of productivity is so deeply ingrained in our heads that it is difficult to just let go and relax in the true sense of the word. The thought of the coming workweek fills us with a sense of urgency and discomfort, especially if we don’t enjoy our work, or have some pending tasks to complete. Sunday then consumes one with worry.

The thought of the coming workweek fills us with a sense of urgency and discomfort, especially if we don’t enjoy our work, or have some pending tasks to complete. Sunday then consumes one with worry.

Another interesting speculation is that we may still be carrying childhood school anxiety. Sundays may evoke similar feelings of going back to school, earlier bedtime, the end of two days of play, and pending homework. If we were especially unhappy at school due to any negative experiences such as bullying, the fears might come to the fore in the form of Sunday night angst. For some, weekends set such high expectations focused on the idea of relaxation that the unrealistic to-do list for the two days remains mostly untouched. Hence, Sunday night makes us miserable when we look back to realize how little we truly relaxed and/or accomplished our set goals.

Final Thoughts Before Going Back To Work

Statistics and conjectures can only take us so far, but they do ground us in reality, making us question the current state of affairs in life. So, if one experiences Sunday Neurosis, it could help to go back to Frankl’s hypothesis, that there is something missing. Maybe work is enabling a misalignment of one’s desires and actions, or perhaps we are more focused on work and neglecting other areas of our lives that need attention. Internal conflict can result in feelings of dissatisfaction, angst and misery.  

How can we then manage Sunday Neurosis? Instead of making an impractical to-do list for the weekend, focusing on a few feasible tasks or priorities can be a better approach to the weekend. If the unstructured routine for the weekend gets to you, making a loose schedule for the day could help. If the upcoming rush of the week makes you anxious, maybe you can attempt to alleviate the weekday stress by preparing for the week to come.

This could be running errands, preparing meals, doing laundry on Sunday. Mindfulness can be helpful to control the feelings of Sunday stress focused on Monday. Most importantly, looking inside to find the reason for one’s unhappiness related to work is essential, especially when hustling has become the way of life today.

Also read: Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Past Wounds Which Affect The Present

References

  1. The Washington Post
  2. Psychobabble for normal people

Featured Image Source: The Hindu

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