Though Sundays are supposed to be about recharging, it’s no secret that they often don’t feel that way. Between running errands to get yourself (and maybe the whole family) prepped for the week ahead, catching up on work projects, or giving your home that desperately needed deep clean, it’s easy to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to actually chill.

If you’re like us, you could use a few tips for combatting the Sunday scaries, and that’s where Emma Mainoo, founder of Surviving Sundays comes in. Emma founded the site to open up the conversation around the myriad of things in life that can cause this feeling of anxiety that many of us have come Sunday afternoon. Her honest approach to life’s tough subjects have earned her a steady following, and given us inspiration on making our Sundays a time to do what makes us feel our best. Here, she breaks it down. #SundayFunday here you come.

image by kristen kilpatrick 

image via @surviving_sundays

Why do you think so many of us experience the Sunday scaries?

The conventional working week often allows us to only find space to power down on the weekend, rather than finding moments of balance throughout the week. This means that Sunday can become the gateway to fear as we list tasks, expectations and predict outcomes before we even get to experience our Monday morning.

My truth was that I was once living with depression, and at that time I isolated myself on weekends. By Sunday at 4pm I had ’the fear’ so badly about the week ahead and all that I would have to manage with a smile whilst feeling under par. I also dreaded the friendly Monday morning ‘how was your weekend?’ question more than anything. I’d always say ‘chilled’ or ‘fine’ when the truth was closer to hopeless, anxious, lonely…

Why did you start Surviving Sundays?

I started Surviving Sundays to tell the story of my recovery from a breakdown that I experienced 7 years ago. In the moments up to that point, and also during a period of my recovery, I felt ashamed and hid in plain sight — somehow acing it at work, faking it in my relationships and only letting the mask slip on occasion.

Becoming honest about my mental health and being able to share my feelings was the cornerstone of my healing, and once I began to talk about my experiences, the number of people that shared their experiences with me was both validating and alarming. I realized that too many people are suffering in silence, so I wanted to create a storytelling platform where others might feel seen through my experiences and the stories of others.

What are some of your favorite ways to combat the Sunday scaries? 

For me, there are two things that help me to combat the Sunday scaries:

The first is that I keep Sunday sacred — and by that I mean that I don’t commit to plans that I’ll resent by the time Sunday gets here.

That may mean saying no or tentatively accepting invitations and being honest about my reasons if I’m tired/not feeling it in advance, rather than flaking at the last moment (which causes more anxiety!). This means knowing myself and appreciating that I’d rather do something restorative on a Sunday like yoga than a shopping session, so I’m honest about what I commit to.

The second thing is that I stay present throughout my Sunday. Monday task-lists can happen at my desk on a Monday morning, when I purposely don’t take meetings to give me the space to focus on the day and week ahead.

image via @surviving_sundays

How do you balance self-care with the obligations that can so often barge-in on Sunday?

Boundary setting! Both with myself and with others in all areas of my life. Saying ‘no’ isn’t easy, but it’s liberating and allows us the space and strength to say ‘yes’ to taking better care of ourselves. I used to answer calls and emails on any day, at any time and felt like I had to be always on. I built my own cage by doing this, then became frustrated when I couldn’t get out. But it turns out the key was right there in my lap, and that by starting to set boundaries with myself, I in-turn I created a healthier way of working with others.

What does your perfect Sunday look like?

My Sundays are pretty perfect these days. The day always begins with a walk. Seven years ago, a big part of my recovery began with a walk around the block when I was struggling to leave the house. Over time I built up to long walks where my spirit lifted and this is something I continue rain or shine. On a Sunday morning, I grab a cup of tea and walk through my local park. I notice the trees and flowers, I watch the dogs and people and feel connected to the world. I then make a yummy breakfast at home and read the Sunday papers. Later in the day, I’ll meet friends for lunch or head to a Sunday matinée at the cinema if I’m alone. My golden rule on a Sunday is to be home by 7 pm (at the latest) to unwind and to embrace a peaceful evening.

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