“I have suffered many misfortunes, many that never happened.” — Michel de Montaigne.

Sunday scaries are pervasive, damaging, anxiety-producing stories we tell ourselves. They have become so common in our society it’s damaging the mental health of people in all generations.

But what are they, and why are so many people suffering from this new phenomenon?

For many, it goes like this: Sunday afternoon or evening arrives, and suddenly, a thought pops into your head: “Oh no, I have that meeting this week with the Director, and I haven’t finished my presentation. I am sure she’s going to freak out when it’s not to her liking.” Or, “My slave driver boss expects me to complete my report by Tuesday. I’m sure I’ll be in trouble if I don’t get it done.”

Suddenly, the relaxing weekend vibes vanish, replaced by a gnawing anxiety and overwhelmed about the week ahead. This isn’t just a case of a touch of anticipatory anxiety about the unknown—it’s the full-blown Sunday Scaries.

And they seem to be getting worse with each generation. So why is this?

The increase in Sunday Scaries, especially among 25 to 45-year-olds, boils down to a mix of an undeveloped executive function, lack of self-awareness, resilience issues, and way too much negative self-talk. But it’s not your fault, and no one is blaming you for the absence of development of these very important brain functions. I’ll take a moment to show you how these brain mechanisms are messing with your head and what you can do about it.

First off, let’s talk about our executive function. This function helps with emotional self-management and the ability to recognize when we are making up scary stories, which allows us to shift from scaring ourselves to planning, organizing, and prioritizing. When this function isn’t developed, it can feel like your brain is running on outdated software. Instead of enjoying our Sunday evening, we MUSS (Make up Scary Stories). This leads to Sunday night over-the-top stress and insomnia as we become paralyzed by our catastrophic thoughts. Sunday night feels like standing at the edge of a cliff, staring into the unknown.

Scary Thoughts are Automatic and Self-Protective

Now, I want to bring your attention to who is actually running the show inside your head. Without self-awareness, your brain is on autopilot without any understanding of how you create distressing emotional states. Self-awareness is about understanding your own emotions and why you feel the way you do. If you’re not tuned into your own mental state and how scary stories you tell yourself create anxiety, you spiral out of control. Many of us have emotional blind spots, not recognizing what stresses us out, leaving us at the mercy of ineffective coping mechanisms like binge-watching TV to avoid thinking about Monday. This is especially tough when we rely heavily on external validation, like social media likes, to feel good about ourselves. When we face real-world challenges, this fragile self-esteem can crumble, making Sunday nights particularly harsh.

And suppose you are spending Sunday’s MUSSing. This makes it increasingly difficult to be resilient as your brain is wired to the threat of aweful things happening. Without resilience, every scary thought can feel like a major disaster, feeding into the Sunday Scaries. Many of us grew up with overprotective parenting, which means we didn’t get the chance to develop coping skills. The digital age’s focus on instant gratification can hinder our patience and perseverance, making the anticipation of Monday’s responsibilities more daunting. Additionally, societal pressures to always be on top create a fear of failure, making any upcoming challenge feel like a make-or-break moment.

Finally, let’s think about how you talk to yourself. Negative self-talk—that little voice in your head telling you that you’re going to fail, that you’re not good enough, or that disaster is looming is not your friend. While it is a self-protective brain mechanism meant to keep you safe, if you allow it to take over, it does nothing but harm you. Michel de Montaigne nailed it with his quote, “I have suffered many misfortunes, many that never happened.” Our brains can’t tell the difference between real and imagined threats, so those “scary stories” we tell ourselves feel real. This leads to catastrophizing, where we blow things out of proportion, making every small task seem impossible. Constant self-criticism erodes our confidence, and fearing failure can make us avoid trying in the first place.

What To Do About the Sunday Scaries

The Sunday Scaries don’t have to be a permanent part of your life. By working on your executive function, building self-awareness, developing resilience, and silencing that negative self-talk, you can take back Sunday nights.

In Become Who You Are Meant to Be in Your Personal Life, you’ll find every exercise and practice you need to develop self-awareness, change automatic negative thoughts, and develop your executive function. Learn how you can manage your thoughts and decide what you want to feel so you can start your week with confidence instead of dread.

So, next Sunday night, when that familiar anxiety starts to creep in, remember you’ve got the tools to handle whatever the week throws at you. It’s time to rewrite your story and turn those Sunday Scaries into Sunday Strengths.

Watch for my upcoming videos on the Sunday Scaries, with tips for developing all the tools you need to stop the MUSSing (Make Up Scary Stories).

Are You Ready to Become Who You Are Meant to Be?

Take the first step toward transforming your life and embracing your authentic potential by purchasing “Become Who You Are Meant to Be in Your Personal Life.” By using the information and exercises in this book, you can dismantle the prison of the Imposter Persona and be free to live life on purpose so that you can achieve your authentic potential.

Get Your Copy Today from Amazon.com!

Anne Dranitsaris, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist, Author, Leadership Coach


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