Belfast Telegraph

Three-quarters dread Mondays but overcoming 'fear' should be neigh bother

By Stephanie Bell

Three-quarters of people in Northern Ireland experience 'Sunday Night Fear' - a dread of the working week ahead.

Workers have such unfulfilling weekends that they spend Sunday night feeling dissatisfied and uneasy, says the survey by VisitScotland. And females aged under 34 are most likely to suffer.

The majority of workers say they feel the weekend goes too quickly. Other fear factors include the feeling of having too little excitement or adventure over Saturday and Sunday.

According to leading psychologist Allison Keating, the feelings of dread need to be tackled: "This new research shows that Northern Ireland workers want more excitement and adventure from their weekends, yet three-quarters of workers admit they spend their weekends doing household chores or other menial tasks, such as shopping (61%) or surfing the internet (36%).

"With some planning, some of these activities could be tackled during the week to ensure you make the most of your weekends and break up your routine so you feel more positive on a Sunday night. It is vitally important for our wellbeing to ensure we switch off and take a well-deserved break.

"By filling the weekend with new experiences, we create new memories and this alters our perception of time - we actually feel that the weekend is longer."

When asked how they would rather spend their weekends, locals say their favourite activities are enjoying dramatic landscapes (56%), tucking into local cuisine (55%), going on a city break (52%), and visiting historical landmarks (44%).

VisitScotland's Helen Campbell says we take fewer holidays than people in the rest of the UK: "While we continue to welcome visitors from Northern Ireland to Scotland, research from ABTA has shown that last year people in NI took fewer holidays or short breaks compared to the rest of the UK, averaging just one domestic UK break per year."

VisitScotland last week brought Shetland ponies to Belfast City Hall to cheer up weary commuters, and a snap poll of passers-by confirmed the survey's findings.

Sarah Adams, from Lisburn, said: "I definitely experienced the Sunday Night Fear. I've woken on a Sunday morning and felt I haven't really done anything with my weekend and wasted it sitting on the sofa."

Noel Watt, a council worker from the Shankill in Belfast, said: "I have experienced the Sunday Night Fear many times, I get it because the weekend goes too quick, particularly if I have to work at the weekends too. And Londonderry's Kevin Bradley, an office worker, said: "I had the Sunday Night Fear this week. Unfortunately, it was a quiet weekend because I had an exam."

Paul McGarry (below), an animal welfare activist from Belfast, said: "It is usually grim going into Belfast for work but it was good to see wee ponies this morning - that gave a spring in my step."

Karen Murray, from Lisburn, added: "I experience the Sunday Night Fear every week. I sometimes use my weekends well, but it depends how many household chores have to be done."

Belfast office worker Emma Woods admitted: "Sometimes I even experience the fear on Monday on my way to work! I always just wish there was one more day at the weekend to relax and refresh, but there are always things that need to get done."

Office worker Dylan Burke, from Strabane, added: "I definitely know the feeling of 'the fear'. The weekends just aren't long enough and there are things you wish you could do, but just don't have time for."

What the survey said...

Key results of April survey of NI workers:

  • Three-quarters admit to Sunday Night Fear
  • 1 in 4 claims to feel the dread every week
  • Females under 34 are the most affected

Tasks that get in the way at the weekend:

  • 75% claim chores take up most of their free time
  • 61% blame errands or shopping
  • 38% spent weekend preparing for the week
  • 36% said weekend was taken up by working or checking emails

Factors that induce Sunday Night Dread:

  • 61% feel the weekend went too quickly
  • 18% blame the feeling of being behind when they should be on top of things
  • 11% felt fear because they didn't do anything new in the weekend
  • 10% said it was the feeling of wasting their free time

Activities we'd prefer to do at the weekend:

  • 56% would prefer a scenic drive or visiting a dramatic landscape
  • 55% wanted to enjoy local cuisine
  • 52% would like to go shopping or to the theatre
  • 44% wanted to visit castles or museums
  • 37% would like to visit somewhere new and feel awestruck

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