The Sunday Scaries Have Changed. Is Sourdough the Antidote?

It used to start creeping up around 3 p.m. on Sunday: That chest-tightening, slightly queasy feeling as you suddenly remembered the loose ends you forgot to tie up on Friday. All of those random to-do’s that keep pinging to the forefront of your mind, like your subconscious has gotten on a group text with every worry you’ve ever known, and they won’t stop swapping reminders:

What if Sal asks for an update on that project you keep putting on the backburner?

Was the wording of that email too intense?!

You should definitely wear the blue blazer to the Q2 meeting. Where IS that blazer though?

At least, that was what the Sunday Scaries looked like three months ago. But since the coronavirus sparked stay-at-home orders and widespread job losses, they’re more like the Everyday Scaries, as a tremor of anxiety courses through each and every day.

“What even is a weekend anymore?” has become the de facto joke to respond to people asking what we’re doing on Saturday and Sunday. But, according to Dr. Amy Cirbus, Director of Clinical Content at online therapy service Talkspace, the weekend is actually more important now than ever—especially as states discuss lifting restrictions and reopening businesses.

“We’re seeing a spike in anxiety,” she says, describing the ebb and flow of our attitudes throughout the past few months: “There was the crisis stabilization phase, then a sense of endurance, and now this. Even if places aren’t opening up, nationally, we’re talking about it, and people are feeling that sense of, ‘I have to make that decision for myself. What’s best for my health? Who do I look to?’”

It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for—a return to normal or something a little closer to it—and rightfully so, we’re all concerned about making the right moves (and at the right time) to prevent the virus from revving back up. That’s why we need the weekend so badly. It’s a chance to unwind and recharge yourself, replacing that constant thrum of worry with calm as you head into the week—which, for many, is also compounded by concerns over paying bills, finding a new job and/or doing all of the above while caring for their kids as schools remain closed.

sunday scaries covid stress relief
Maskot/Getty Images

But often, finding a sense of peace comes down to finding a routine—and finally opening that packet of active dry yeast. No, really.

It’s not just your Instagram feed; people everywhere are getting in on cooking and baking projects as a way to relax. Vox dubbed Nothing Fancy author Alison Roman—whose recipes are so popular they’re known simply as “The Stew” and “The Cookies”—as the reluctant “prom queen of the pandemic.” Yeast sales are up 410 percent year over year. And while some of us are baking around the clock, it’s clear that our new national pastime takes place over the weekend: Searches for banana bread, cookies and cake mix recipes are on the rise, spiking every Sunday, according to Google Trends data.

“Cooking and baking feels meditative,” Cirbus says, adding that knitting, crochet and small home upgrades have a similar effect. “It’s less about having that end product and more something that feels peaceful and mindful—your mind isn’t wandering to the next task or what you have going on the next day.”

sunday scaries covid banana bread
Westend61/Getty Images

And as it turns out, these activities are a great way to beat the Scaries, whenever they might hit. If you’re still having trouble unplugging from work, Cirbus recommends setting a dedicated time at the beginning of the week to gather every stray idea. “Every Monday morning, set aside 20 to 30 minutes to outline the major tasks you have to do that week, and think through everything,” Cirbus recommends. Just knowing that you have a set time for clearing out your mind and prioritizing what you need to tackle for the week ahead can put you more at ease, letting your downtime actually be downtime.

You also don’t have to take up baking or knitting, if that’s never been your thing. Whatever lets you fully focus on the present moment, so your mind’s not wandering to the news or your inbox, is worth scheduling in as a weekly commitment. Maybe that’s a Zoom happy hour with friends, a YouTube yoga class or hell, recording your own ASMR YouTube videos.

“We all have different ways that we feel better, and the good thing is that literally everything is available to us right now,” Cirbus adds. “If you’re wondering about something, look it up.” There’s probably a livestream for it.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...