I’ve never been a stranger to anxiety. Back in middle school I would get so worked up in the morning that I couldn’t stomach breakfast before the bus arrived. It was such a frustrating routine that my parents had to find something I could keep down, which ended up being those “Carnation Breakfast Essential” powdered chocolate packets that you stir into milk. This helped me digest some nutrients before school, and it put a decent bandaid on the issue. But as anxiety has shifted and changed form throughout the years, it has still remained a constant presence in my life.
Nowadays, that old anxiety comes around on Sunday nights as I think about the workweek ahead. The small, annoying, poisonous questions start to creep into my brain:
- “Did I not prepare enough for tomorrow’s meetings?”
- “What if something happens that I can’t handle?”
- “Did I forget to do something?”
And those questions inevitably press my Shame Buttons:
- You can’t handle what’s about to come your way – get ready to fail.
- They’ll realize you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re an imposter.
- You haven’t earned your place in the world.
I’ve done a good amount of research on this specific anxiety, and discovered that this affliction has many nicknames: “The Sunday Blues,” “The Sunday Spookies,” or “The Sunday Dread” (I adopted “The Sunday Weirds” myself). I then, of course, discovered a large collection of Buzzfeed-style articles that gave less-than-helpful advice:
- Relax and Distract
(Easier said than done, guys)
- Schedule something to look forward to
(As an introvert, this just adds another level of anxiety to look forward to)
- Do 30min-an hour of actual work.
(Keeping that to just an hour is a joke)
- Do Sunday work on Saturday, to make Sunday more fun
(That just means I will have two Sundays)
- Be more social on the weekends.
(Again: Greetings! I’m an introvert and that sounds like my personal Hell)
If any of these approaches have worked for you in your life, that’s rad, and I’m totally pumped for you (and way jealous!). But maybe you’re like me, and the simple “how to” advice has left you wanting more. Maybe they’ve only made your Sunday Weirds worse. I can now say that after a ton of trial-and-error, there are only two tactics so far that have worked for me: talking about it, and writing about it. And when I say “worked” it doesn’t mean that my Sunday Weirds are gone completely, but rather – enough anxiety is eased to make the day manageable.
When quiet moments turn into toxic breeding grounds for anxiety, I always turn to my husband, Vin, and announce: “The Sunday Weirds are here.” This helps him know that I’m distracted, stressed, and need some help getting out of my funk. We are then able to talk through it together – and usually, the act of vocalizing my fears/feelings/thoughts diminishes a good percentage of that anxiety. Rarely do we come to a solution or “perfect fix,” but allowing myself to have a sounding board makes me feel less alone.
Whenever I want to work on my Sunday Weirds alone, I grab the closest pad of paper & pen and start writing. I will write about anything that is taking up space in my brain: my work to-do list, my fears, my feelings, anecdotes, or personal epiphanies. But I physically write them out to release some of that mental real-estate. This, paired with a daily journal that I keep which requires that I write something positive about myself each morning, seems to have provided better tools to shift my perspective.
In both of these approaches, I try to turn towards the shame as opposed to away from it, as painful as this can be. Because if you’re like me, “The Sunday Weirds” are just little moments of dread that shine a spotlight on Shame Buttons. No amount of social activity, to-do lists, or relaxation can erase that deep feeling of fear that we are not worthy of love and belonging; which is why the distraction advice that is modernly paired with pop-culture gifs only make us feel worse. So instead of burying our shame-induced anxiety, let’s just name it for what it is: human fear, and the yearning to feel connected. Let’s face our Shame Buttons and put more energy into exploring the question: what will help me heal?
How do your Sunday Weirds manifest themselves? How do you wrestle with the Shame Buttons that are pressed in your life?