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Putting Sunday Night Dread To Bed on Friday: 5 Tips for Leaders Supporting Their Teams




The Sunday Night Blues is not a new concept. Many clients I have worked with over the years have described it as a ‘hangover’ from their school days. Anecdotally, people who no longer work (for many reasons) can also report that ‘Sunday feeling’.


A feeling so entrenched that it can hang around, even when circumstances change. The ‘Sunday feeling’ may shift to any day before we return to work or studies. It is a feeling that often represents anxiety and dread.


Professor Ilke Inceoglu at the University of Exeter Business School is leading research into Banishing the Sunday Night Blues. You can read more here: https://business-school-expertise.exeter.ac.uk/banishing-the-sunday-night-blues/.


A topic that impacts many people, and a feeling that a lot of us can relate to.


In our society, we have a ‘countdown culture’ as I observe so often, in my personal and professional life. The constant countdown to the weekend, and the countdown to holidays. It is almost as if life has become one big calculation around time off work.


That speaks volumes.


What if work elicited positive feelings? What if we felt joy, excitement and had a sense of looking forward to work, instead of the collectively understood feeling of dread?


Of course work will present challenges and less enjoyable moments. Of course, it will present us with anxiety inducing moments. It is important to balance hope with reality.


I ask - what can we do to reduce Sunday night blues? What can we do to reduce the countdown culture?


I think leaders can do so much, actually by doing relatively little, to keep these feelings of dread at bay.


Here are some tips for how leaders can shift the Sunday night blues for themselves and their team:


1.) Ensure there are no meetings planned on a Friday afternoon or a Monday morning.

(As highlighted by the preliminary findings from the University of Exeter Business School Study)


2.) Set clear boundaries around weekend working. If a leader/manager works over the weekend by sending emails etc, it sets the tone and expectations for everyone else. Leaders who are boundaried, and clearly role model healthy working habits, will have a profound effect on the team.


3.) Be mindful of any challenges or difficult conversations that do not need to hang unfinished over the weekend. For example, wherever possible, avoid leaving tricky conversations until Monday. I have worked with people who have experienced high anxiety and low mood over the whole weekend due to these circumstances.


4.) Get to know your employees. You can build the relationship by understanding their life outside work. Sometimes we just have no idea what the weekend may bring up for people in different circumstances. There will be employees with a highly stressful home life, to those who may not interact with anyone over the weekend. We are living through a loneliness epidemic. Read more about loneliness here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/loneliness/about-loneliness/. We do not want to leave people worried or anxious over the weekend wherever possible.


5.) Make Monday special. Think outside the box to do Mondays differently. What can you add to Mondays to unite with and connect your team?


I love the quote “Culture is how employees' hearts and stomachs feel about Monday morning on Sunday night.” (Bill Marklein). How can you ensure your employees feel good about their return to work?


You can read my previous blogs on the topic of Sunday Nights and work-related anxiety.

https://www.drelainesmith.com/post/the-sunday-night-blues

https://www.drelainesmith.com/post/3-17am-bolt-upright-in-the-night



Thanks so much for reading.


Any questions, please drop me an email drelainesmith@protonmail.com.


Elaine





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My online course for Corporate Leaders called Creating Compassionate Workplaces is available now.


  • Leader Mental Health

  • Compassionate Leadership

  • Psychological Safety


Find out more information here: https://drelainesmith.thinkific.com/

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