It’s Sunday, chill out. If God can rest today, so can we

By David G. Allan

Whether you want to worship the sun, for which the day is named, or a Christian God, or just your leisure time, enjoy it before you’re reminded that tomorrow is Monday.

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This is part 7 in a 7-part series on the meaning, facts, pop culture and inspiration contained within the history and psychology of each day of the week.
Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday| Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

As its name implies, Sunday is the day around which all other days revolve. Depending on your perspective, it is the end of the week, or the beginning. Or both, which is how it feels as the joy and freedom of the weekend slides into the reality of its own death.

But before the Sunday blahs threaten to rain on our picnic, try to fully enjoy the R&R, this is your day to refuel mentally for the next five days.

Originally a pagan “sun” day for the worship of our planet’s giver of life, it was Constantine I, the OG Christian Roman emperor, who declared Sunday be reserved for rest and worship of a more divine giver of life. The day is Domenica in Italian, Dimanche in French and Domingo in Spanish and Portuguese, all meaning “the Lord’s Day.”

Constantine made his Sunday declaration in the year of our lord 321, and since then we’ve wrestled with the twin obligations of expending and recharging our spiritual batteries on this day.

On the matter of leisure versus worship, the US Supreme Court ruled on the side of leisure in the 1961 case McGowan v. Maryland. The court held that contemporary blue laws — which make us blue by limiting certain Sunday worship-distracting activities such as morning shopping or alcohol purchases — are constitutional because they don’t infringe on the freedom to worship other religions. Sunday blue laws, the Court decided, don’t advocate going to church as much as they promote a day of rest through secular values such as “health, safety, recreation, and general well-being.” Oyez, amen.

So, even if your religion doesn’t want you to rest like God did on the seventh day, the law does.

“I wish it was Sunday, ’cause that’s my fun day, my I don’t have to run day,” the Bangles regretfully sing when the day has passed over to “Manic Monday.” Like life itself, Sunday needs to be fully lived with all the joy and freedom we can squeeze in.

Sleep in, or conversely get up early and max out the day. Read for pleasure, call a friend, get out into nature, see a movie, have a big breakfast, or two. Some forms of alcohol are even culturally permissible at brunch (mimosas and Bloody Marys), but not beer, martinis or Kamikazes.

Hair of the dog may, in fact, be one of the answers you gravitate toward when you search online for “hangover cure,” as many more do on Sundays compared to the rest of the week. But even without alcohol, Sunday feels like a hangover day in which you should force yourself to slow down and gently restore yourself. If you’re not recovering on this day, at least use it to prepare for the work week.

Singin’ the blues

No matter how much you love diving into a good Sunday, there comes a point at which your brain starts skipping ahead to the next chapter. Work or school awaits most of us the next morning. Like “the sound of distant thunder at a picnic,” to quote W.H. Auden on the subject of death, Sunday likewise portends the end of the fun.

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Just as Friday benefits from anticipation of the weekend, Sunday inversely suffers from its conclusion. For most of us with a traditional school or work week, this day can be a bit sullied because we start dreading it. The Sunday night blues are real, and according to one (unscientific) survey, most people unsurprisingly reported they had their worst night sleep on Sundays.

To keep the latter half of Sunday from slipping into a crevasse of malaise, you need to build in distractions. Sunday dinner is a good candidate for inviting friends or family over. Consider picking a favorite TV show to watch Sunday night. Give yourself a bedtime routine that could include an indulgence like a bath with a book. Whatever it is that appeals, make it a ritual every week.

That way, Sunday blues are replaced with cues — reminders that it’s going to be alright.

To quote Joel and Ethan Coen’s “The Big Lebowski,” or maybe it was William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the death of the week is upon us:

Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! —
Why does the drum come hither?

The drum is for Monday (the subject of the next story in this never-ending, perpetually looped series), and Monday — the moon-day that is only visible at the setting of the sun-day — is not nearly as bad as you might think.

As for making Sundays better: Any day of the week holds the capacity to be your favorite. All it requires is taking control of it and bending it to your will, the subject of my story on hacking your week for CNN.com.

David G. Allan is CNN’s editorial director of Features overseeing CNN Travel, Style, Space + Science and Wellness. He writes a column for CNN called The Wisdom Project that can be subscribed to here.

CNN’s Editorial Director of Features (Travel, Style, Wellness, Science), plus The Wisdom Project column. This account represents my personal views, not CNN’s.

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