Why Do We Dread Sunday: The Power of Anticipation?

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Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

Do you remember the Carly Simon song “Anticipation?” If you love Carly Simon the way I do you might enjoy her performance at this URL:




There is an amusing commercial in which a camel walks through an office asking each office worker out loud, “What day of the week is it?” The answer which is finally forthcoming is “It’s humpday.” The camel burst out with joy, “Humpday, Humpday.” Most of us recognize the humor. Yes, the connection between Humpday and camel is funny. However, the real message is that Wednesday, Humpday, means that the work week is getting closer to Friday. Friday is anticipated with great joy. It means the work week is over, everyone can go out Friday night, sleep late on Saturday morning and enjoy the weekend. That’s why it’s called TGIF, “Thank God It’s Friday.” In fact, it’s so popular that a restaurant chain is named after it.

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If we anticipate Friday with pleasant expectations, there is an opposite reaction to Sunday called “The Sunday Night Blues.” In this case, there is a feeling of dread as the coming week is anticipated. The start of the work week means having to arise early and meet the demands and expectations of the coming week.

While it is true that “Day of the Week Moods,” (DOW) has been discredited because many people do not experience these emotions in connection with the week, work or the day, there is a lot in the concept of anticipation. First, it’s important to note that, in general, anticipation is usually associated with pleasant emotions. This is positive anticipation. With regard to Sunday, those who are stressed and anxious have a negative anticipation about the start of the week.

It is possible that those who anticipate negative outcomes are pessimists and those who anticipate positive outcomes are optimists. An additional factor might be that those who anticipate negative outcomes are depressed and anxious. It is certainly possible and probable that those who suffer the Sunday blues may be depressed, anxious or both. For example, there are many people who anticipate the coming week with enjoyment because they love their jobs and often feel optimistic.

The psychology of anticipation is really quite interesting. Have you ever anticipated something with great excitement only to feel just the opposite once it comes true? There is something about anticipating a positive event, like getting a gift for you birthday or looking forward to a vacation at the beach, that evokes excitement and pleasure. The waiting period before these types of anticipated events occur is filled with the pleasure of fantasizing about what things will be like. Like a kid waiting to receive his first electric train set, it feels good to live things in the imagination.

Positive anticipation is one of the driving forces behind sex. Here, too, the tension that increases during the waiting period increases the sense of excitement of how things will be. How many husbands and wives experience this type of anticipation in waiting for the evening when the demands of the day are over?

In fact, if positive anticipation feels so good, would you delay a actin now for having one a month later? Research shows that many people choose to delay gratification now for the feeling of anticipation that comes from waiting for something in the future.

Let’s go back to Carly Simon and Anticipation. Here are a few relevant lyrics:

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin’

And I tell you how easy it feels to be with you
And how right your arms feel around me
But I, I rehearsed those lines just late last night
When I was thinkin’ about how right tonight might be

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin’

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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