Research by Aviva suggests that work anxiety is having a detrimental effect on a huge portion of the workforce.
In a survey of 2,000 employees, 67% said that their weekends are cut short by work anxiety, with some spending hours worrying about the week ahead. So-called ‘Sunday dread’ is characterised by a range of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, and disturbed sleep, with knock-on effects including depressive moods, tiredness, and relationship problems with family and friends.
Surprisingly, employees in younger age groups appear most affected by Sunday dread, with those just starting out in their careers being most likely to suffer (74%). Certain industries and job functions also appear more susceptible, with those in HR and finance most likely to suffer weekend anxiety, and professionals in transportation and arts sectors least affected.
An impending heavy workload is the biggest cause of Sunday dread, cited by 42% of sufferers, most commonly those in middle management and working in organisations with over 500 employees. Other motivations for weekend worry include low salaries, toxic colleagues and out-of-hours emails.
Experts propose that time management is key to alleviating Sunday dread. End your working week by spending time organising your priorities and calendar, so that you start Monday with a plan of action rather than a daunting to-do list. It can also help to tackle your toughest task earlier in the day, lightening the load sooner and creating a sense of achievement. Finally, create a shut-down ritual that sets a clear intention to step away and enjoy your time off: write an out-of-office auto response stating you won’t be checking email during certain periods, and leave your laptop at work so you’re not tempted to log in.
Find out more about recognising the symptoms of stress and burnout with our webinar, Self-care at work – How to know what you need, with Sally Kettle