Is there a single word that motivates us more than "weekend"?
It's like the promise of a sweet hereafter following what seems like a lifetime of toil.
It's the spring in our step that gets bouncier with each passing day — until by Friday, we're practically bumping our heads against the ceiling.
Just thinking about it now might even get that timer ticking. Three days until the weekend. Two-and-a-half days after lunch.
(Go ahead and subtract another minute-and-a-half it'll take to read this article.)
The trouble is the weekend is a rip-off. You think you're getting 48 hours of unconditional downtime, but reality takes a hefty discount. In fact, it takes most of Sunday.
That's when anxiety comes creeping in and another countdown begins: 12 hours until Monday. Make that nine hours because you couldn't tear yourself away from YouTube videos about giant shredders that devour entire trees.
(Don't judge. It's my free time. I can do what I want with it!)
Sure, it's free time. But it isn't free of that confounded clock. And the mounting stress of an incoming Monday can erase any joy you might wring from a Sunday evening.
That feeling is so prevalent among the Monday-to-Friday crowd, there's even more than one name for it: the Sunday Scaries, Sunday Fear Syndrome or the more clinical dimanchophobia.
Even Monster.com — a website that specializes in yoking humans to the Monday-to-Friday cycle — admits it's a problem
In a poll, Monster found that 76% of Americans have "really bad" Sunday night blues — "generally defined as depression over the fact that one night's sleep stands between you and a new workweek."
Another survey of more than 1,000 people found that 81% experience anxiety on Sundays. The anxiety increases as it gets later in the day.
It seems for most people, Sunday is no holiday at all. And it may all come down to the same essential problem: We can't stop thinking about tomorrow..
Consider how writer Jenna Arak describes it for The Muse:
The Sunday scaries stem from anticipating the future, from worrying about what will come in the week ahead — the work we'll have to do, the conversations we'll need to have, the tasks (big and small) we'll need to take care of. And while looking ahead can be useful, it also takes away from the moment we're in.
Even worse, we may develop some downright unhealthy coping strategies for that transition from weekends to Monday. Some might resist — staying up late, milking every minute of a fleeting Sunday. Or worse, we might try to cram in too much "rest and relaxation" in the form of pina coladas and other mind-numbing distractions.
But why should Monday cast such a long and fearful shadow on our lives?
Maybe it's because the counter is reset, and the weekend, or happiness, seems at its furthest point.
Or maybe you just really hate your job — and the prospect of returning to it every Monday literally hurts. In that case, you're going to want to spend a little more time at the Monster website. Because that job won't settle for Sundays and will eat away at your whole life.
If, like most of us, you have a tolerable job, but don't much like the whole idea of working, than there are plenty of ways to make Mondays a little less doom-ridden. Most critically, perhaps, is preparing for it on Friday afternoon.
You don't want any unsettled Friday business hanging over the weekend. So clear the deck, tie up loose ends. And, despite your urge to run into the forest and live on blueberries starting at 5 p.m. sharp, finish whatever job you're working on.
As career coach Ryan Kahn tells Forbes, "Mondays can be extra stressful from work that has potentially piled up from the previous week and, for many, can be challenging to jump right back in."
Still, there's no getting around the fact that most of us live by the clock, just as we will die by the clock. So why not make every minute a plus rather than a minus?
Maybe we should spend a couple of those precious Sunday hours watching "Groundhog Day" again.
Remember that highly quotable classic in which Bill Murray is forced to experience the same day over and over again?
Well, this is Groundhog Life. It's the same week over and over again. But Murray, through his character Phil, breaks the cycle by seizing the day. He learns to play piano. He does good things for people. He embraces his job. And, he falls in love.
Ultimately, he transforms his day into one that he wouldn't mind living over and over again.
Maybe we could all learn a lesson from Phil — and learn to seize the week, rather than just the weekend.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information since it was originally published in July 2019.