SQUASH THE SCARIES FOR GOOD
Girls' Life magazine|October/November 2021
Stuck in a stress spiral? Can’t sleep? Don’t let the monsters get you down (or keep you up).
JESSICA D'ARGENIO WALLER
It’s usually after dinner on Sunday night when S it hits you: pangs of dread that creep whc in once you start thinking about everything you have to tackle on Monday…plus that test on Tuesday…band tryouts on Wednesday…a group project due on Thursday…oh, and it’s your bestie’s birthday on Friday. (Sorry if you’re sweating now.)

What's driving all that worry? Blame the anxiety monsters, says psychotherapist Allison Gervais. These imaginary creatures can bring up various fears depending on what’s on your docket.

“It’s anticipatory anxiety caused by scanning the week ahead,” Gervais explains. All the stressing about your schedule can tie your stomach in knots, making it harder to fall asleep and setting you up for a not-great start to the week. But take heart: You’re not the only one with the preweek worries. Dr. Jamie Howard, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, says it’s not unusual for teens to experience some form of Sunday night scaries.

The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to shoo away the scaries whenever they appear. We’ve got expert-approved coping techniques for the most common fears that fill your mind. Who’s stressed now?

THE ANXIETY MONSTER: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN

Whether it’s the night before fall show choir tryouts or your first real internship interview, part of the fear and worry that arises before any big day is due to a combination of being a) unsure of what might happen and b) not fully prepared for any potential outcome. “Sometimes when we feel anxious, it's because we don’t know what to expect,” notes school counselor Morgan Champion.

SQUASH THE SCARIES: The name of the game? Preparation, then relaxation. Before the event in question, take some time to set yourself up for success. Organize your planner and your backpack. Lay out your outfit and pack your lunch. Run through your audition song and perform it for your BFF or your little sister or your cat. Print off a few extra copies of your résumé and go over those key interview questions (and your answers). Then, mentally walk through the first three things you’ll do when the big moment comes. By taking action, you give your brain something concrete to focus on so it can forget about those looming fears.

And after all that’s done? Step away from your amazing preparation and get some rest. Because the truth is, you can’t control tomorrow—but you can show compassion toward yourself right now.

THE ANXIETY MONSTER: THE WORRY LOOP

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