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The Sunday Night Ritual: Paying Attention

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Stress » Featured Article

By Kelly Romirowsky, PsyD

Kelly Romirowsky, PsyD

What is Sunday night like in your house? Do you spend it trying to pretend tomorrow isnít Monday? Do you make an endless to do list for the coming week? Do you get a stomachache just thinking about tomorrow? Do you pace your house because you canít fall asleep? Or do you stay up until youíre bleary-eyed watching TV or surfing the web to keep your mind occupied?

How ever you spend your Sunday night, for many of us, our Sunday night ritual could use a little makeover.  Many people are spending lots of time and energy worrying about the economy, their bank accounts and how they will pay their next bill. Some are even feeling helpless and depressed as they go to a job they hate but canít leave.

The Sunday night ritual is completely understandable- even when it runs into Monday night and beyond. Lately turning on the TV, opening the paper, surfing the web, talking to friends (in person or virtually), and even going to a bar can knock you off your feet- and not in a good way.  We are inundated with breaking (and not so breaking) news about the state of our economy and it seems to be all people talk about.  Even the latest discussion about the health care plan reverts back to a discussion about how much it will cost us. It seems that the phrase "thatís not something we can afford nowĒ fits into almost any conversation with almost anyone these days! Although I am quite pleased to see the shift where talking about your money is becoming less taboo, this Sunday night ritual, complete with aches, pains, and "pills,Ē has got to stop!

First, letís consider why the ritual exists. What does the Sunday night ritual accomplish? For some people, it may serve as a distraction from thinking about something that is worrying you even more than bills. For others, it may simply provide a routine for your unstructured Sunday night? It may be something that developed over such a long time you canít even remember not doing it and canít figure out why you keep doing it. Some people might say the ritual prepares them for the week of work and stress ahead.

After you have made an educated guess as to why you maintain your Sunday night ritual, Iíd like you to close your eyes for just a second and imagine it now. What do you feel and where in your body do you feel it? Most importantly do you feel relaxed, focused, and energized imagining yourself in your Sunday night? Or are your shoulders hunched up near your ears, are there butterflies in your stomach, are you sweating? Do you just want to open your eyes and stop pretending itís Sunday night? I asked you this because itís important to recognize how Sunday night makes you feel and think- instead of just going through it week after week wishing for Friday. If you had mainly positive or  generally relaxed feelings and thoughts while doing this exercise, great!

For the rest of you, itís time to start opening your eyes. You donít have to keep up your Sunday night ritual- you donít have to dread Mondays! You do need to take notice of what you were feeling physically and emotionally and what thoughts popped in your head so we can turn your ritual into a much anticipated and even treasured moment in your week. So tonight tune in to how youíre spending your time before bed, what youíre feeling physically and emotionally, and what thoughts are going round and round in your head. Jot down your impressions in a notebook by your bed or send yourself an email (for those of you who forgot what a spiral-bound notebook is!). 

About the Author...

Dr. Kelly Romirowsky is a clinical psychologist with a therapy practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Last Update: 10/3/2009

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