An inbox full of emails and back-to-back fundraising meetings can have Mondays feeling like a game of catch before the first cup of coffee is finished. Maybe that’s why Sunday-night stress hits some folks hard—scoring a solid eight hours of sleep can seem even more elusive after two days away from the working world.
Thankfully, it’s still possible to find moments of Sunday-evening Zen with a bit of planning and preparation. These six easy steps won’t take a lot of time, but they will definitely help set your week up for success.
Do what you love
It’s easy for thoughts to spiral to the week ahead—especially when Sunday night seems like a final countdown to Monday’s alarm. That’s why it’s so important to practice being in the now, which author and mindfulness expert Eckhart Tolle is known for preaching.
One of the best ways to stay in the moment is to get in your flow. That means carving out time every Sunday to do something you really love. Whether it’s coffee with a friend, sitting down with the Style section of the paper, reading a good book, or watching a favorite show, creating self-care rituals to look forward to helps shift Sunday to Funday.
Prep and plan (meals, that is)
Meal prep takes time and effort, but it’s a surefire way to set yourself up for an effortless workweek. Healthy meals benefit your waistline and brown bag lunches benefit your wallet. It’s a win-win that leaves a few extra dollars in the bank for that post-work happy hour or fancy Friday morning coffee.
Start small, with one or two easy recipes to prepare Sunday afternoon. Or consider cooking up staples like quinoa, vegetables, and chicken for a week of make-your-own bowls. Portion meals into single-serving dishes to take to the office, and save leftovers for a ready-in-minutes healthy dinner when work runs late.
Tight on time? Throw ingredients in a slow cooker or try no-cook overnight oats for a wholesome grab-and-go breakfast with zero excuses.
It’s easy for workouts fall by the wayside once Monday arrives. Tight deadlines and major projects tend to monopolize the work week, which can make it hard to hit the gym. Plus, those late-night dinners with potential funders tend to make extra shuteye more attractive than the morning rise-and-grind.
For that reason, getting in a Sunday sweat session is an essential part of setting up for a week of success. Take a walk outside, join a spin class with friends, or get in on a relaxing yoga practice at the studio around the corner. Movement is key to ending the weekend and preparing for the unpredictability of the week ahead.
As an extra bonus, feel-good endorphins and a boost of serotonin will help combat any anxiety or stress you’re feeling about your Monday morning to-do list.
Set an intention
Some people write in gratitude journals while others leave motivational quotes on bathroom mirrors for inspiration. Setting an intention for the week ahead is one of the best ways to boost productivity and increase focus. It’s an easy practice that can make a major impact.
Using a word or feeling to guide intention for the nine-to-five is a mindfulness exercise that’s worth making a habit. Focus on the word “joy” and find ways to bring more of it to your interactions with colleagues, or consider the word “growth” to get outside your comfort zone, take on new projects or develop a new skill. Thinking about “connection,” for example, could encourage partnerships outside your typical network or more face-to-face conversations instead of interoffice emails.
Set an alarm
It seems like a no-brainer, but setting an alarm is an essential part of setting yourself up for success. Decide whether the priority is extra Zs or time for morning meditation and a relaxing cup of tea. Then choose a wake-up time accordingly.
Make it a Sunday night ritual to light a scented candle, turn down the sheets and set an alarm for the following day. Just be sure to pick a sound to ease you into your morning rather than jolt you out of bed. (Think crickets over car horns.)
Skip the mindless scrolling through Instagram or cruising old friends’ newsfeeds and instead, opt to unplug as a part of your Sunday night wind-down. Bright blue light from cell phones, computers, and other electronics disrupts sleep cycles, and breaking news can be its own source of anxiety and stress.
Instead, vow to make the final hours of your Sunday night screen free. Pick up a book, page through a magazine, take a bath, or talk to your partner. Monday morning means plenty of phone calls and computer time, so really revel in these final moments without them.
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Jill Nawrocki is a Licensed Social Worker and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer living in Brooklyn. She is an ultra runner, freelance writer and social justice warrior with a background in program management, direct practice, mindfulness and advocacy.