Reset, recharge & stave off the Sunday scaries with these expert tips & recommendations

If you consider Sunday the anxiety-inducing calm before the work-week storm, then it’s time to hit the mental reset button and try a new routine designed to help you feel good and arrive at Monday morning ready and raring to go.

Introducing your #sundayreset, the latest TikTok health and wellbeing trend turning the rest day of the week into a truly relaxing Sunday reset routine for mind and body to ensure your week starts the right way.

What’s a Sunday reset?

With more than 628 million views at the time of writing, the '#sundayreset' has become a regular occurrence on TikTok, as users post about spending their Sundays doing self-care activities, such as cleaning, changing bedding, stretching or applying a face mask.

"A mental reset is a way of unwinding and taking your foot off the pedal, a bit like building a mini holiday into your week," explains consultant clinical psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, Dr Emma Citron.

"Something positive that came out of the pandemic is the ability to reassess and to emphasise the simple things that make many of us happy.

"Think a walk in nature, visiting an art gallery, listening to some music or participating in community activities – they can add a lot of meaning to people’s lives and make us feel more connected," she explains.

Everyone’s Sunday checklist is personal, but each should have the same goal: to boost mental health and help you start the working week well-rested and refreshed.

Why is a reset routine important?

"Resetting is great for your mental health," advises Dr Citron. "It could boost memory and seems to have a positive knock-on effect on productivity levels."

In fact a recent thought-provoking review of research on the brain at rest or in 'default' mode, found that, far from being unproductive, downtime is an opportunity for the brain to make sense of what it has recently learned.

"There have been successful studies that have explored four-day weeks and the benefits of taking a break" explains Dr Citron.

One research team from Henley Business School found that, after taking time to reset, 78% of employees reported feeling less stressed at work and 64% said the quality of their work had improved.

And, of course, it is possible to reset during the week too. "Mini resets are an excellent idea if they work better for you. Some people find relaxation or breathing techniques helpful," says Dr Citron.

Try a five-minute meditation session with Headspace, or the NHS advises this five-minute breathing technique:

1. Place both feet flat on the ground and roughly hip-width apart.

2. Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.

3. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

4. Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five. You may not be able to reach five at first.

5. Then let it flow out gently, counting from one to five again, if you find this helpful.

How to create a Sunday reset routine

"You have to be very individualistic about what it is you decide to do," explains Dr Citron. "Being in the moment, or so called 'mindfulness', is quite stressful and potentially even irritating for some people.

"While some people find housework helpful, I personally would pick something that I enjoy over changing the bedsheets – like sitting on a bench in the sunshine with a lovely view.

"Just avoid doing something that feels like any other day. If a reset feels like a chore, you could come to resent it and just think: 'My life has no breaks. It’s just a series of tasks and getting things done.' And that’s no reset.

"There’s a whole tapestry of activities and downtimes to choose from to feel like you’re stepping off the exhausting hamster wheel of the week."

But it’s not just about #clicktoclean and what’s going to encourage likes on social media – here’s our guide to getting stuff done, so you can get the most out of the Sunday reset trend and make life feel good every day of the week.

Begin your day by noting down everything you want or need to do in a list. Aim to do the most labour-intensive activities first and end with the more restful ones to help the reset feel like you’re winding down and aid sleep.

Here are some examples of the activities you can do to give your Sunday reset the best chance of staving off the scaries.

9 ways to kick-start your Sunday reset routine

1. Sleep

How much sleep do you need? It differs from person to person, but the NHS recommends adults aim for seven to nine hours. Try shooting for eight to provide some wiggle room. "There are lots of studies to support the benefit of that sleep time in our lives for preventing mental illness and staving off dementia and serious illness," says Dr Citron.

With benefits that stretch from the short to the long term, we could all do with upping our sleep hygiene. Check out our guide on how to build a better sleep routine for small but substantial ways to improve the quality of your shut-eye.

2. Exercise or go for a walk

The benefits of exercise are well documented, from boosting dopamine and serotonin levels to increasing creativity.

The NHS recommends aiming for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week, spread over four to five days (for adults aged 19 to 64 years of age), in addition to carrying out some form of strengthening activity twice a week.

There are lots of options out there to help you meet your weekly quota – the important thing is finding workouts that you enjoy. You might want to try incorporating a de-stressing yoga nidra practice into your routine, a low-impact workout that’s neighbour-friendly, one of these at-home workouts or getting started with running with these top tips. Try and avoid anything too vigorous close to bedtime to ensure you have a peaceful night’s slumber.

3. Change your bedding

Not only will this activity help you zone out, a poll conducted by The Sleep Foundation showed that 73% of those surveyed got a more comfortable night’s sleep and 78% were more excited to go to bed where freshly scented sheets were involved. There truly is nothing more blissful that snuggling into just-out-the-tumble-dryer bedding on a chilly night.

4. Cleaning, laundry or washing your make-up brushes

Here’s the sign you needed to clean your home: a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who described their living spaces as cluttered or full of unfinished projects were more likely to be fatigued and depressed than women who described their homes as restful and restorative.

A good place to start? Cleaning your make-up brushes, a task that many of us put off, but is oh-so-satisfying when done. Find out how to do it in our easy-to-follow, step-by-step tutorial.

5. Read a book

Do you have a book on your bedside table that you’ve been meaning to read for ages? Dust off that bookmark, because it could be one of the easiest ways to help you mentally reset and recharge for the week ahead. One study showed that while reading, and for days afterwards, brain connectivity increases.

6. Listen to music

Turn up the radio and get dancing. Research has revealed that it may help boost memory, reduce fatigue and boost happy brain chemicals such as dopamine.

7. Journalling

Research supports the idea that journalling can help decrease intrusive thoughts and mental 'clutter', supporting memory and other cognitive functions and relieving everyday stress. Putting pen to paper could be the perfect antidote to a whirring mind and help lessen your load.

8. Indulge in self-care

Whether it’s taking a long soak in the tub or going deeper into your skincare routine than you do in the week with a face mask, studies suggest that taking the time out for self-care is beneficial to your mental health.

Try combining with essential oils for an extra relaxing bathtime treat. Find out more in our guide to seven bathing rituals that will transform your next soak.

9. Cook a balanced meal/prep for the week

Time to cook can be sparse during the working week and so Sunday can serve up the ideal time to let your creative juices in the kitchen flow. Looking for culinary inspo? We (as well as TikTok) have got you covered. Save time and cut down on waste with these five healthy batch-cooking recipes, and our guides to the Mediterranean diet, veganism and how to go flexitarian are all brimming with food for thought for your next shop.