Contemplating the ‘Sunday scaries’ 

Column by Sallie Rose Hollis

New words and phrases are constantly popping up in my life. Maybe you’re more in the know than I am and maybe these things don’t persistently jump out at you because you’re already aware of them – but, for me, they almost continually surface in unexpected ways.  

I can even remember when certain terms entered my personal lexicon. Take “24/7.”  

My friend Becky innocently tossed it out one day, and I managed to translate it silently in my head to “24 hours a day, seven days a week.” My memory and a recent web search both tell me that this was probably in the 1980s, when the shortened “24/7” phraseology was first officially noted. Actually, such an internal translation wasn’t that hard. Same with “cray cray” for “crazy.” The context provided the key.  

Other words, though, particularly the non-slang variety, are a bit more difficult. I actually keep a list of such words I’ve run across while reading. (Yes, I’m a word lover, a word nerd, a logophile, a lexiphile – take your pick.) Currently at the top of that rather long list are “anodyne” and “boffinry.” 

But appearing even more recently than those obscure words: the “Sunday scaries,” also known as the “Sunday blues.” Only recently have I noticed this term, but now that it’s caught my attention, I’ve found that it’s been around since 2009.  

The definition: the anxieties that build up over the course of Sunday afternoon and evening when thinking about the impending workweek, school week or other obligations that await in the week ahead. A survey conducted by job site Monster found that up to 76% of Americans self-reported having “really bad” Sunday night anxiety. 

Looking back to my pre-retirement years, I can remember experiencing such emotions only a few times. Now, with no looming obligations poised to rear their ugly heads Monday morning, I can still report a dearth of such sensations. This, of course, is not to say that they don’t exist for other people and that they don’t need to be dealt with. 

Before I looked up the meaning of “Sunday scaries,” my initial musings about the term caused me some mental conflict. I wondered: Why would Sunday be scary? To me, having the opportunity to attend church services with one’s forever family – as it’s often called – and being reassured concerning God’s love and care is anything but scary.  

As I read through multiple articles containing advice about the Sunday scaries, an abundance of hints surfaced concerning how to deal with this particular brand of blues. I had hoped to find in the secular stories at least one suggestion that indicated paying attention to your spiritual life might make a difference. But I couldn’t find even one word related to this. 

Two religiously based articles, however, did address the spiritual aspect of the situation: “How to Banish the ‘Sunday Scaries’: The Key to Living with Empowered Purpose” and “12 Surprising Ways to Get Rid of the Sunday Scaries as a Christian.” So thank goodness for that. 

I’d like to add to the discussion. In the congregation I attend, our theme for this year is “Set Free in ’23.” Sermons and classes will focus on this periodically in the coming months.  

To get us started, on New Year’s Day our minister spoke of redemption, of being of being set free, like the Israelites referred to in Psalm 126 when they returned to Zion from Babylonian captivity. “It was as if they were in a dream,” the minister said. “They danced; they sang; they ran; they jumped; they smiled; they laughed. They were going home.” 

Then, he added, the redeemed are like that. One day we’ll be going home. Indeed, in the church, we’re already home.  

When I hear that, it’s hard to feel the Sunday scaries.  

Let me know if you’d ever like to talk about this. 

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