What are they?
The Sunday Scaries are pretty universal to the human experience. Occurring exclusively on the last day of the weekend or the day before you have to return to work after some time off, the Sunday Scaries consist of that pit-in-your-stomach, dread-filled, anxiety-inducing knowledge that the weekend is over and another work week is about to begin again.
The term basically refers to that sense of trepidation you feel at having to face another week from the beginning all over again. Not only do the Sunday Scaries give you anxiety, but they give you anxiety so strong that you can’t even enjoy what little weekend you have left. Typically, you end up unable to relax at all after the Sunday Scaries hit and just sit staring at the clock, ruing every wasted, passing hour.
Why do they happen?
Let me paint a picture for you: Imagine it’s Sunday afternoon. You just had a great weekend filled with relaxation time, lazy mornings, and just a hint of productivity (in my opinion, this is the recipe for a perfect weekend). You’re relaxing on your couch watching the Great British Baking Show for the billionth time and reflecting on how refreshed you feel after such a lovely couple of days off. Suddenly you recall the reason why a couple of days off felt so needed.
You remember how last week you had been so stressed at work because several deadlines all seemed to align on your busiest day. You had realized a day late that you had missed one of those deadlines and had gotten chewed out by one of your coworkers via email with your direct supervisor CC’d. Not only all of that, but on Wednesday morning you woke up to find your car with a flat tire (you knew you should have checked it more thoroughly after accidentally driving over that pothole on the freeway on Monday while you were driving home). Overall, it had felt like such a long and tiring week, and you had felt so ready to just take some time to recharge.
But now, on Sunday afternoon, with only a few hours of weekend remaining and Monday morning looming on the horizon, you are faced with the tragic truth: The weekend is over and you’re about to face a new week, probably equally stressful to the last. What horrors may lie before you? Only Monday will tell, so you’d better waste your last seven hours of free time worrying about all the awful possibilities (at least, that’s what the Sunday Scaries tell you to do).
How can we cope?
Obviously, feeling gut-wrenching anxiety about once a week isn’t the most pleasant experience. There must be another way! The good news is, there definitely are other ways. The bad news is, most likely none of them will completely eradicate the Sunday Scaries to the point of extinction. But maybe, throwing one or two of these ideas into practice will allow you to reclaim some of those last moments of recuperation time before Monday morning actually arrives. Here are four ideas to beat the Sunday Scaries and take back your weekend!
1. Make Sundays for relaxation only.
I speak from experience when I say that it’s easy to leave all your chores and errands to do on Sunday. Sundays often become a sort of “catch-up” day for a lot of people. It’s the day you clean, pick up groceries, wash your bedsheets, put gas in the car, etc. And I totally get why we do it too! We’re so exhausted after the long work week that we just want to finally get to the relaxing part of the weekend. Unfortunately, this sets us up for greater anxiety by the end of it. When we leave all our chores for Sunday, we usually end up dealing with anxiety about that in addition to the standard Sunday Scaries anxiety. Here’s my first tip: Get all your errands and chores out of the way before Sunday arrives. Reserve Sundays for relaxation only. If you have any tasks to cross off before Monday morning, do them on Friday or Saturday. Don’t needlessly double your Sunday apprehension!
2. Plan something you’ll look forward to on Sunday night.
So now you’ve booked yourself a full day of relaxation every Sunday. But what more can you do? Make yourself even more excited for Sunday to arrive! Plan something you always look forward to doing, even if it’s seemingly small. Examples might include ordering takeout, watching a favorite movie or TV show, lighting a lovely-smelling candle, putting on your coziest pajamas, or taking a slow stroll around the neighborhood while listening to your favorite podcast or playlist. The options are endless. Whatever it is, make it something that you’ll truly feel eager to experience on Sunday evening and you might just replace your worry with excitement!
3. Practice anxiety-reduction techniques.
Let’s say you’ve done tips 1 and 2 and you’re still feeling the Scaries creeping up on you. You’re not alone! Making Sundays more enjoyable is not the end-all-be-all of eradicating your Monday apprehension. In fact, it’s usually not that easy. So what now? My next tip is to face that fear head-on with some anxiety-reduction techniques. The goal is to do something that will regulate your autonomic nervous system (which controls your “fight-or-flight” anxiety response) and activate your parasympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for rest and recovery from stress). Here are some ideas for you: Spending time outside, deep breathing, exercise, meditation or mindfulness, playing with your pet, taking a cool shower, or visualizing a calm space. If you aren’t sure what to try, a therapist is a great resource! We would love to brainstorm self-care and calming activities with you.
4. Prepare for Monday morning ahead of time.
If your worry just refuses to be kicked out, you can at least give yourself fewer things to feel anxious about on Sunday night. Ask yourself, “What can I do to feel more prepared for Monday morning?” and then try to accomplish at least 2 or 3 of the things you come up with before you go to sleep on Sunday. Some things I usually do are pack my lunch, lay out my clothes for the next day (including shoes!), fill out my planner or to-do list for the week, set my alarm, and get out a mug to use for my coffee in the morning. What helps you feel prepared for a new week might be completely different than me though, so focus on what really is going to set you up for success when you step out of bed the next day.
If all else fails, remind yourself that you can always do your best and be proud of how hard you are trying, even when things aren’t going your way. Let’s start this new week off strong!
If you’re interested in meeting with a therapist to get some insight on your personal Sunday Scaries, or if you just want to talk about life in general, the therapists at EVOLVEwithin would love to help! Give us a call at (262) 649-3297 or visit our website to learn more or to request an appointment. We can’t wait to get to know you!
Article contribution by Tabitha Schroeder, MS, MFT-IT
I think we can safely assume that the COVID-19 pandemic has left just about everyone feeling a little more alone than usual. Community events are being rescheduled, classes are taking place virtually, and family gatherings are getting cancelled. Even if we do spend time with others in person, we do so from six feet away with half of our faces covered by masks. There’s no doubt that we’re all feeling a little bit less connected to others in one way or another, and oftentimes that loss of human connection can lead to feelings of loneliness. Especially during the holiday season, like we are now, these feelings can be even more prevalent. So how can we combat this lonely feeling that has become so pervasive during the pandemic?
Acknowledge your circumstances
The first step is to notice the context in which your loneliness is occurring. Like I talked about above, life is looking a lot different than it normally would right now. The pandemic is forcing a lot of us into a lot more solitary of lifestyles than we’re used to. Take a moment to reflect on how you are experiencing your day-to-day life these days. What’s different? What’s the same? Have the changes you’ve experienced been adding stress or relieving stress? In what ways? All of these factors inform the way you process and cope with your feelings during this time. Acknowledge your circumstances and allow yourself to recognize how plain hard life is right now. When you’ve created space for your loneliness to exist in context, it feels a little more approachable.
Create the right moments of connection
Loneliness is different than being alone. Loneliness can rear its ugly head for a lot of different reasons. Maybe you’ve been home spending quality time with your partner while in quarantine, but you still feel like you’re missing some sort of social engagement. Maybe you’re an essential worker and have been continuing to see people face-to-face this whole time, but you come home at the end of the day to an empty apartment. Or maybe you’re a college student living with a roommate and other friends in a dormitory, but you haven’t gotten to see your significant other in weeks since they go to another school.
What kind of connection are you seeking in your life right now? Are you missing getting together with friends or do you just want someone to keep you company? Are you wishing you could go on a romantic dinner date out with your spouse, or perhaps remembering how nice it was to see a stranger smile as you pass each other in the grocery store? There are a lot of ways to create moments of connection in our lives, even now. But if we’re continually trying to smile at strangers when what we really need is to chat with a friend, the itch will never be scratched (so to speak).
Take care of something
Maybe you’re sitting there reading this article and thinking to yourself, “Nice try, Tabitha, I literally can’t do any of the things you’re talking about so I’m just going to be lonely forever.” Not so fast! You haven’t stumped me yet. If you have no way of contacting other human beings to create connection (whatever the reason may be), find connection in something non-human! A great way to reduce feelings of loneliness is to take care of something. Why do you think so many people adopted dogs over the past six months? Take an hour or two to pull weeds in your garden, rescue a homeless kitten, or plant a few seeds in a pot in your kitchen. Having something to nurture, whether that’s a pet, a plant, or a caterpillar you found on the sidewalk yesterday, can be a significant remedy to your lonely feelings.
Hold on to hope
One of the most important keys to surviving loneliness is to hold on to the hope that one day you won’t feel as lonely anymore. If you can find a way to expect the best for yourself (i.e. that your feelings of loneliness won’t last forever), you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you focus on the light at the end of the tunnel, you will begin to find more little moments of connection in your daily life and notice the times when your lonely feelings aren’t as strong. As the days pass, loneliness loses its power, and at the same time, you regain your strength.
If loneliness is a struggle for you right now, or even if it has been for a while, the therapists at EVOLVEwithin can help. Call us at (262) 649-3297 to reserve your spot. We are here for you!
Article contribution by Tabitha Schroeder, MS, MFT-IT
Maggie here, lets talk about stigmas! Stigmas around mental health are everywhere. Luckily while working in the field of mental health I have had the privilege of helping reduce that “stigma” and neutralizing mental health illness. It is my hope that this blog will inform those of you who struggle with mental illness and educate those of you who may not realize the lasting effects of stigmas. Through my post-secondary education and experience I have seen many people struggle with the effects of the stigmas and discriminations that are so prevalent around mental health. I have seen connections between stigmas and discrimination. Mayo Clinic defines stigma as a person viewing an asset or quality within someone in a negative way. With that being said, if a person is treating you in a negative way because of your mental illness, this can be similar to discrimination.
An unfortunate side effect that individuals can encounter when having a mental illness is this black cloud of assumptions they could experience from society. This burden, in turn, worsens the problem and makes it difficult for one to cope. Individuals experiencing this stigma can feel shame in their personal lives, fear in getting treatment, self-doubt, hopelessness, and isolation. In working in the medical field, I have had the privilege of working with some amazing professionals who have both studied stigma and who have taught people with this cloud how to overcome such sadness. With that being said I have learned an important skill, which is to remember: You are in control.
You are in control! Try to think to yourself, “what are the things in my life that I can have control over and what are the things that I do not have control over?” When we put our thoughts into this kind of perspective it can decrease the anxieties that one experiences when worrying about things outside of their control. An example of this could be individuals that create stigma and discrimination around mental illness. This is out of our control, but what we can control is reaching out for help when we have difficulty overcoming those influences.
This is easier said than done. The heaviness that the world places on us can be extremely powerful, especially when the judgment comes from our loved ones. However, this is not an impossible task. The idea of reminding oneself, “Is this in my control or out of my control?” is key! This will take practice, but with practice will come a great deal of reward and ease. Accepting what is out of your control and then modifying what is in your control can serve you best when learning how to handle mental health stigma.
Stigma and discrimination may always be there but having these conversations, informing, being aware, and sharing articles like this one will educate and support those who may not know the impact of their perception. Don’t let stigma be the cause of your anxiety and depression; continue to remind yourself, “Getting help is in my control and changing what others think and say is out of my control.”
Here at EVOLVEwithin, we care deeply for those working through mental illness and care deeply for the relationships you have. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health we have wonderful therapists who are able to help. Give us a call at (262)-649-3297 to schedule your spot today!
Article contribution by Maggie Berg, MFT Clinical Intern
Whether you’ve been married to someone with an anxiety disorder for twenty years or you just went on your first date last week, it can be tough to figure out the best way to support and be there for your significant other when they are struggling. To make things even more complicated, not every anxiety disorder is the same, and even two people with the same diagnosis might experience their symptoms in completely different ways! Regardless of what they’re going through, it’s hard to feel like a helpless bystander while your loved one is suffering. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I not only work with individual diagnoses, but I pay special attention to the ways those diagnoses can affect relationships (which is a lot of ways!). I’ve put together four brief tips to help you start navigating these challenging waters:
1. Do your research
Read up on your partner’s diagnosis and symptoms. While it’s important to let them tell you about their individual experience with their anxiety, it can also help them feel cared for and understood if you take the time to educate yourself on what they might be going through. For example, if your significant other has Generalized Anxiety Disorder, one of their symptoms might be becoming tired more easily than usual or even just feeling tired for no apparent reason. If you’ve done your research and know that fatigue is a common symptom of anxiety, you’ll be able to sympathize with your partner when they complain of not knowing why they’re so tired all the time. Another great way to do your research is to read articles (like this one!) that offer tips on how to help someone with the diagnosis that your partner has. So, great work! You’re already taking a positive step toward helping your loved one manage their anxiety.
2. Don’t take it personally
Sometimes (or oftentimes) your partner’s anxiety might spill into your relationship. They might feel some anxiety about whether you still love them or about whether your relationship is the “real deal”. They might ask you for reassurance over and over again no matter how much you say you want to be with them. As the person on the receiving end of these insecurities, you might start to wonder what you’re doing wrong or why your significant other doesn’t trust you the way you trust them. While it’s normal to have those thoughts, my encouragement to you is to remember that your loved one’s anxiety isn’t about you. If you take their worries personally, it’s easy to think that they have anxiety about your relationship because they think you’re an untrustworthy person or that you’re the type of person to cheat on them. In reality, the source of their anxiety is probably not related to you at all! If your partner tells you they have some fears related to your relationship or if they exhibit any of the behaviors I’ve mentioned here, take a moment to remind yourself that their anxiety doesn’t mean you’ve done anything to hurt them, and ask them how you can help them ease some of those worries. Your support in those moments can be so valuable to the strength and the growth of your relationship.
3. Listen first, suggestions later
You care about your partner, right? So, naturally, you want to make all their problems go away and ensure that they never feel any negative emotions - ever! It is really hard to just stand by and watch someone you love suffering through moments of anxiety. How often do you catch yourself thinking or saying something along the lines of “Maybe if you tried …xyz… then you wouldn’t feel so anxious”? We automatically go into problem-solving mode when we know our partner is in distress because we want to help them to not be in distress anymore. The trouble with anxiety is that there isn’t a perfect solution that makes anxiety go away. Even when certain things work in some circumstances, they might not work all the time. On top of all that, when anxiety hits, it can be hard to process potential solutions when your nervous system is on such high alert. When your partner tells you they feel anxious about something, let your first response be listening. Help them to get through that difficult moment. Then, later on after their anxiety has calmed, offer your suggestions: “I know you were really worried about that thing before. I was wondering if you had ever tried …xyz… Do you think that would help?” When your significant other has anxiety, giving them space to feel heard and supported can often be more helpful than any piece of advice you could offer.
4. Consider therapy
What better way to support your significant other with anxiety than to learn how to do it from the experts: therapists! Couples’ therapy can be a really amazing bonding opportunity for people in relationships, even if you don’t have anything you consider to be a major “problem” you want to work through. A therapist can help you and your partner learn more about how to work together and support each other through a variety of difficult situations, including times when your partner is feeling anxious. If you’re not quite feeling up to couples’ therapy, or if your significant other isn’t ready to try it yet, you might also consider individual therapy for yourself. I imagine you may be thinking, “But I don’t have the diagnosis, my partner does!” True, but therapy isn’t just for people with diagnoses. Therapy can be just a space to vent and process day-to-day life, a time to discover more about yourself, or, in this case, an opportunity to practice skills that will help you in your relationship with a person who has anxiety.
If you’re interested in trying out couples’ therapy, individual therapy, or even both at the same time, the therapists at EVOLVEwithin would love to help! Give us a call at (262) 649-3297 or visit our website to learn more or to request an appointment. We can’t wait to get to know you!
Article contribution by Tabitha Schroeder, MS, MFT-IT
Anyone out there without stress right now? There are many reasons to not be feeling like our best selves right now. With COVID-19 continuing to effect our daily lives or health concerns, social justice movements picking up speed, and political issues pulling us in every direction; there has been no shortage of stressors to weigh us down over the last few months. All that stress can easily take a long-term toll on our mental health and relationships.
Even though we know these things that are happening are hard on us, it can still feel challenging to admit that we’re struggling and want to see a therapist. We might tell ourselves that other people have it worse than we do, or that everyone is having a hard time right now so our needs aren’t that important. We might worry that people will reject us, judge us for needing help, or that they’ll think we’re incapable.
I get it. I personally have felt all those feelings and thought all those thoughts. I know how hard it is and how vulnerable it feels to reach out and tell someone you need a little extra support.
I’m here to tell you that seeking out help or going to therapy does not make you weak, helpless, or irrational. By choosing to see a therapist, you are choosing to listen to your body and take care of yourself, which is one of the most important things you can do in tough times.
You might be thinking, “What good is therapy actually going to do? Isn’t it basically just venting?” Short answer: Sometimes! We all have things we need to get out of our system every now and again, and who better to hear it than a therapist? Not only do we hold space for you to get out your frustrations, but once we hear what’s going on, we can help you explore what your feelings are, why you’re feeling them, and how to cope with them moving forward.
You might also be thinking, “I’ve been to therapy before and it didn’t help. Why should I try again?” It’s common for it to take a little bit of time before therapy feels like it’s helping. It’s also totally normal to have to try out a couple therapists before you find someone who is really a good fit for you and helps you make progress. Think about it this way: If you went to a new hairstylist and they gave you a bad haircut, you probably wouldn’t stop getting haircuts for the rest of your life––you would just try a different hairstylist! And, just like haircuts, therapy is a normal part of taking care of your wellbeing.
And now you might be thinking, “Yeah, maybe I should give therapy a try!” If that’s the case, we would love to work with you at EVOLVEwithin. Just give us a call at (262) 649-3297. If you’re not totally sure just yet, that’s okay too. We’ll be here for you whenever you’re ready!
Article contribution by Tabitha Schroeder, MS, MFT-IT
Throughout my life I have constantly heard the term "self-care". I’ve heard the term while in school, at work, and even talking with family: “Are you partaking in self-care?”, “What are you doing for self-care?”, “Any new practices in your self-care plan?”. With schooling, I gained a broader perspective of this term and with that an ongoing thought: Can an individual truly act in a way that is caring to themselves if they do not have self-love? Self-care, in essence, is the act of enjoying an activity in an environment that is relaxing, peaceful, and in that creates a sense of happiness. Some examples may include taking a bath, watching a show for 30 minutes, mediating, or working out. Although these examples may seem obvious, the pace of the world simply doesn’t allow for them if we don’t make time for them. So often people don’t make self-care a priority and chalk it up to “there just isn’t enough time!” On the other hand, self-love is when a person has a strong sense of well-being, a sense of their worth, and finds joy and happiness within themselves. Consequently, self-love is needed to pursue a balanced life that includes self-care.
Last semester, while working to complete my Masters at Edgewood, Madison Solomon, LMFT shared a powerful photo (above) during a Psychology of Trauma and Stress course. This picture resonated with me and still is a daily reminder to me of what it means to have self-love and self care. The tree, as a whole, is a symbol of life and the branches are a symbol choice. As life progresses, we can either love who we are and make choices that are going to support our life and give us strength and nourishment (on top of the branches), or we are going swing from the branches and hope that life supports us and others will help give us a boost up the tree. This image is a visual reminder to me to make sure I am not at the bottom of that tree or just dangling before I realize that I need to put my self-love and self-care first. The image is a reminder of the importance of taking control of our own life through self-care and self-love and to always remember to take the time needed to be and become the best versions of ourselves.
Article contribution by Maggie Berg, MFT Clinical Intern
Maggie here, and I would like to welcome you to EVOLVEwithin’s Blog Site! I am a second year master's student at Edgewood College specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy, and I am grateful to be a new addition to the EVOLVEwithin Team. With the team’s support, I am confident in my readiness to venture with you through and beyond your therapeutic needs. With that said, let me share a little on why it would be beneficial to see me, or any clinical intern, as your therapist!
As I was throwing ideas around of how to compose this article I was thinking of relatable experiences that most go through and came to this conclusion: our lives progress from being taught, to then teaching others. All learning and teaching experiences are different, but mine relate to my passion for therapy. I have learned from professors and my peers, but more development has stemmed from the interactions I have with the people I help. Experiences that I am about to have as an intern will be a welcome extension to my education and teach me more than I could ever learn from a textbook. I would be grateful for the opportunity to be chosen as your therapist; we will learn together and work as a collaborative team, so you can receive the best personalized assistance through your situation.
Although I may be a newcomer to this private practice, my graduate studies assure that I have extensive knowledge regarding multiple types of therapy models. My current therapy style is fluid. With this in mind, you can find comfort knowing that I am flexible and able to put your needs first. It will be my goal as your therapist to research and explore the model that best fits into your life application.
To get a feel for how I am as a person, I would like to share an example of a model that I find powerful. Emotionally-focused therapy works towards reducing stress and anxiety in adult relationships. Refocusing, focusing on the “now”, establishing intents, and working towards reflecting on individual needs and emotions are key goals with this model. I find that exploring specific needs and emotions are important in order to validate feelings within couples. Pinpointing these feelings can broaden perspective of the situation and can open new doors in exploration. I find that holding space to share and show emotions, mentally and physically, can create a strong a personable bond between both the therapist and client(s).
An intern’s caseload will most likely be smaller than the average therapist. I will personally partake in a part-time caseload, so I will be able to give my undivided attention and will have the time to research and explore methods that will best suit individual, family, and/or couple needs.
Enthusiastic and Creative
Whether an intern has just started school or is finishing up their degree, they are new to doing therapy. Being new to therapy will allow enthusiastic and creative sides to shine. I have studied, practiced, and now I am eager to put all the hard work to test to see growth between clients and myself as the clinician. My time and energy spent receiving formal education has lead me up to this moment. You will not meet a more energized therapist than one fresh out of school. Creating ways to engage with both older and younger populations is something that I succeed in, and is a direct result of my fresh perspective.
Article contribution by Maggie Berg, MFT Clinical Intern
When I say "COVID-19" or "Coronavirus", what does that evoke in you? For many of us, this is an extremely difficult time in our world full of unprecedented change and lack of preferred routine and structure. Whether it be working from home when you usually spend 40 hours a week in the office, or learning how to be a “homeschooling parent,” or having to social distance and isolate because it is harmful to our health to go to any social gatherings or public places.
Maybe your wedding got postponed. Perhaps your child’s graduation ceremony got cancelled. Whatever the case is, we are all experiencing a time of turmoil and increased stress amidst trying to find our new normal. With these drastic changes and increased stress comes increased anxiety and depression, both in individuals who already experience these mental health struggles and in individuals who have never had anxiety or depression before.
The purpose of this article is to briefly describe signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression in yourself and in your loved ones. With this information, it is our hope as mental health professionals that you feel some sense or normalcy and calm knowing that you are most certainly not alone, and that there are some wonderful resources available to you in the form of self-care (i.e. taking care of yourself and your anxiety/depression) as well as professional assistance.
The current pandemic is causing levels of uncertainty that many of us have never experienced before. With that said, increased stress, anxiety, and/or depression is normal and expected, especially due to the fear that COVID-19 has created in society and in our personal lives. How do you recognize anxiety and depression? What are the signs and symptoms that you or a loved one may be feeling? Let’s start with anxiety.
Ultimately, anxiety is a feeling of worry or unease that may be associated with a particular event or situation and is often made worse by apprehension over an uncertain outcome. You can look at anxiety as stress’s older, more cumbersome and intense brother. Below are some typical signs and symptoms of anxiety, although keep in mind that anxiety may present itself differently from person to person and this is not an exhaustive list.
Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety:
Next, let’s look at the definition and signs/symptoms of depression. Depression is referred to as a mood disorder that can cause an intense and consistent feeling of sadness, lack of interest, or low self-esteem in an individual. Depression can present itself in various ways can can vary significantly from person to person, including the severity of symptoms.
Signs & Symptoms of Depression:
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above signs & symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, related to the COVID-19 pandemic or not, there are an abundance of resources available to you when reaching out to a mental health professional.
From your local therapist, the following are suggestions for self-care related to stress, anxiety, and depression that you can do at home.
If you feel as though these home tips just aren’t enough, please seek help from an appropriate therapist or counselor. Many therapists are now seeing clients via telehealth (through a computer, smart phone, or phone calls).
Here at EVOLVEwithin, we are taking new clients via telehealth and will soon return to in-person sessions when it is safe to do so. You can contact us directly at 262-649-3297 to schedule an appointment!
Take care of your inner self. Both COVID-19 and mental health are pretty invisible, but that doesn’t make them less important. These areas of focus within our health is not something to overlook.
Article contribution by Hannah Stadler, MS, MFT-IT