Headspace’s Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher Dora Kamau Shares Tips and Tactics to Fight the Sunday Scaries

Now more than ever before, it’s become critical that we address and support our mental health. It’s not always easy to practice self-care, but doing so can have a major positive impact on our well-being. And right now, one particularly challenging area for many young professionals is work. Workplace anxiety around starting a new work week has become so common that there’s a term for it: “Sunday scaries.”

This has not gone unnoticed by mental health professionals or mindfulness experts—and they want to help. After seeing the popularity and positive impact of their “Sunday scaries” content on social media, Headspace Studios, a global leader in mindfulness and meditation and longtime Spotify partner, has teamed up with us to produce a new microcast, or mini-podcast, called Sunday Scaries by Headspace. It’s hosted by Headspace’s popular Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher Dora Kamau.

“‘Sunday Scaries’ is an all-too-typical feeling,” Dora explained to For the Record. “Especially for those working from home, work life has crept more and more into home life over the last year, which makes [Sunday] that much scarier.”

Starting August 29, Dora will share her knowledge as a registered psychiatric nurse and self-care and wellness artist to help listeners reframe their anxiety and approach the week with a positive outlook. The seven- to nine-minute episodes will also include breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques and tactics. Sunday Scaries by Headspace fans can expect 12 mini-episodes total, released weekly exclusively on Spotify.

For the Record caught up with Dora to learn more about the show, understand the benefits of meditation, and address anxiety.

How can meditation help listeners understand and manage anxiety? What are the benefits of doing so?

Anxiety is an experience that can have a severe impact on our well-being, especially when it’s not understood and is left unaddressed. When we can learn to understand anxiety and familiarize ourselves with its cause and the certain thoughts and emotions that come along with it, we can actually start to change our relationship with anxiety.

Meditation shows us that we aren’t our thoughts and most of our thoughts aren’t real (or as real as they may seem). With enough practice, we can learn to sit with and be at peace with our anxious thoughts and emotions, and even learn to live with anxiety as an everyday part of life instead of treating it like something scary! 

What comes with understanding is empowerment. I think when young people start to understand and address anxiety, it will empower them to take care of their own well-being. This turns into a ripple effect inspiring other young people around them to do the same. 

Can meditation newbies listen to the show? Do you have any advice for people new to or even intimidated by meditation?

Yes, definitely! I think a big misconception with meditation is that we have to be good at it when we first try it, and that’s far from the truth. The practice of meditation is something that we continue to cultivate and strengthen over time, just like a muscle. It’s not that we’re getting rid of every single thought in our mind, but we’re learning how to relate to those thoughts and feelings differently and respond to them in a healthier way. I like to advise people who are new to meditation to start small and stay consistent. So, start practicing for three to five minutes a day until you feel comfortable increasing the time.

And check out the Basics course that we have on the Headspace app! This course is great for beginners and goes over the fundamental practices and principles of meditation.

What is your favorite self-care exercise or tactic Sunday Scaries will share with listeners?

A favourite self-care exercise that I shared with listeners was mindful walking. It’s a practice that is still quite new for me, but something I’m definitely making more time for.

Oftentimes when we walk, we do so on autopilot, and our mind is elsewhere thinking about a million different things. It’s amazing how much something like walking can be turned into a restorative practice, especially when we are fully present with ourselves and our surroundings. With mindful walking, we can try a few things to sync our minds and bodies as we move: observing the body as we walk, noticing what’s going on around us—the cars, people, trees, etc.—listening to sounds close by or farther away, or simply just feeling the soles of our feet touch the ground. 

Burnout is another mental health issue on everyone’s minds. Do you have any tactics you can share for people experiencing burnout?

One of the reasons why I love meditation is the way it invites us to listen to our minds and bodies. Burnout is not just a mind thing and it’s not just a body thing; burnout impacts every aspect of our lives. Even if you’re new to meditation, a simple three minutes of noting your breathing can be beneficial. Why? Because it provides us with the opportunity to pause, reflect, and slow down. Not only that, but we can begin to become aware and understand the different cues of the body that are telling us to slow down as well. 

Another way to address burnout is by identifying your boundaries. Establish terms and standards for the way you show up in the world. Oftentimes, we don’t know our capacities and limitations when it comes to exerting ourselves, and this is what can cause burnout. By setting boundaries surrounding our work-life balance, we can create a more balanced approach to how we work and live our lives. 

Lastly, practicing self-compassion. Practice being kind and gentle with yourself as you navigate this experience. It can be so easy to be hard on ourselves for not being able to do and be more, but that won’t help us feel any better. Befriend your burnout, as silly as that sounds; this allows us to approach burnout in a curious and compassionate way. The same way we would check in and ask a friend how they’re doing, we can look at our experience with burnout in the same way. Get to know it and understand it a bit better so you can relate to it with more compassion.

Ready to relax? Connect your Spotify and Headspace accounts, then mark your calendar for the first mini-episode, which premieres Sunday, August 29. And until then, tune into Radio Headspace now: