Next Time You Feel the Sunday Scaries, Psychologists Say These 7 Products Could Help You Deal
Stop losing your Sunday to pre-work-week anxiety. Therapists share their favorite wellness products to help you ditch the Sunday scaries for good.
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Bedtime routines aren’t just for kids. Parents often go to lengths to lull their overstimulated toddler into a deep, restful state—and research shows these nurturing nightly routines improve children’s sleep quality, moods, social-emotional development and physical health.
Yet as grownups, we don’t always offer the same care and support to ourselves. Some experts suggest that especially as Monday looms, having a go-to self-care toolkit can be especially critical. Amanda Stemen, a therapist and the owner of Fundamental Growth in Los Angeles, CA, says many of us experience the “Sunday scaries“: a common form of anticipatory anxiety that often causes a sense of dread over having to return to work or school.
“The way we calm our nervous system—including emotions—is by soothing our five senses,” says Linda Baggett, PhD, a clinical psychologist licensed in CA, NY, VA, and WA. “Think of what we do for babies to soothe them: we sing and say, ‘Shhh‘, we rub their backs and tummies, we feed them warm milk.”
Everyone’s ideal plan and tools will look a little different. But to get you started, mental health professionals share some of their favorite ways to make Sundays a little more sunny, and less scary.
Learn more about how to develop and commit to a self-care plan
Essential Oil Diffuser
First up on your sensory-soothing list: your sense of smell. Studies have shown that using aromatherapy—like with an essential oil diffuser—also defuses stress and anxiety.
Andrea Horbrook-Walton, LMHC and doctoral candidate in psychology, recommends this Innogear oil diffuser…and Amazon shoppers agree. “It’s visually appealing and has a tank large enough to last all day,” says reviewer Jo. It’s also functional, with options like an automatic timer and mist output adjustments.
Lavender Essential Oil
What to add to your diffuser? Research has shown that lavender can have a powerful effect on our nervous system when we smell it in vapor form. “[The smell of lavender oil] sends the signal to your brain that it’s safe to relax and unwind, which can help prepare you for a deeper sleep,” says Megan Sherer, a licensed holistic therapist.
The benefits grow stronger when you turn aromatherapy into a habit. “Our sense of smell can often act as a foundation of relaxation from which we can build,” explains Corey Yeager, PhD, psychotherapist to the Detroit Pistons and author of the October 2022 book How Am I Doing?: 40 Conversations to Have with Yourself. So, over time, the scent triggers your brain to flow into a stress-free Sunday mode.
Check out these other essential oil scents that promise a good night’s sleep
While you’re soaking up the lavender scents, try soaking it in through your skin, too. “Lavender sleep sprays or lotions have been known to promote relaxation and aid in great sleep,” says Nikquan Lewis, LMFT, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist. In particular, Lewis recommends “Dr. Teal’s lavender body lotion—it’s a game changer!”
Users agree. “The lotion is light and goes on easily,” reviewer CEM says. “The biggest plus is that it really does promote a good night’s sleep.”
And once you’re ready to hit the sack, slip on one of these expert-recommended eye masks to wake up refreshed Monday morning
Kava Stress Relief Tea
“[This tea] relaxes the body from the inside out,” Horbrook-Walton says. “It helps to ease tension and stress stored in the body.”
Kava is a natural plant that’s been used medicinally in Asian and South Pacific culture for centuries—and could be your antidote to today’s Sunday scaries. Modern studies point to some serious neurological benefits, particularly in reducing anxiety and stress. “This tea boosted my mood while relaxing me,” writes reviewer K Dude. “Gave me a calm, zen vibe.”
Check out these 23 other tips for a restorative, stress-free weekend
Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot Massager
“Finding ways to loosen those tense muscles on a consistent basis is critical to charting a relaxation journey,” says Dr. Yeager says. “Given that we don’t always have the ability to get [a massage], having a reliable massage gun or foot massager can come in clutch.”
Horbrook-Walton recommends this Cloud Massage Shiatsu foot massager to relax when you’re facing the Sunday scaries—and more than 12,000 shoppers back her up. “This machine is better than the person we go to every other week,” writes user Frank Vincent. “It is surreal.”
3 Minute Positivity Journal
When you’re dealing with a bout of Sunday scaries, journaling can be a powerful practice to ground yourself ahead of the coming week. Studies even show that in addition to psychological benefits, people who journal for just a few minutes every day have an improved immune system response, better liver function, and even lower blood pressure.
You can get a blank journal to free-write, but if you prefer a bit of a guide, Horbrook-Walton suggests the 3 Minute Positivity Journal—especially if you’re new to a journaling practice. “I was looking for something that was short and realistic so that I wouldn’t feel like it was a burden,” writes user YogaGrl. “Three minutes is exactly what it takes, and there’s no excuse not to commit.”
It’s difficult to ease yourself into a relaxing evening if you have to-do’s, ideas, and anxieties for the week ahead cycling through your head. “Getting it out of your mind and into a plan can be very helpful,” Stemen says. To ease the Sunday scaries she suggests keeping on top of this routine with organizational software like Trello, Todoist, or ClickUp.
Need more inspiration for your Sunday evenings? Check out 2022’s most life-changing health and wellness books for the perfect end-of-weekend read (or audiobook)!