April Morris, LCSW, provides outpatient therapy for adolescents and adults age 16 and over. She uses a multi-faceted trauma-informed therapy approach including a variety of therapy techniques. She enjoys working with clients from all walks of life, and is honored to join them on their mental health journey and help them build skills to adapt to life challenges.
Host Tim Unsinn:
Welcome to Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services, an outpatient behavioral health clinic located in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo, North Dakota. In this podcast, I will talk with our experts about understanding and nurturing our mental health and wellness. I'm your host, Tim Unsinn. Join me each episode as we explore the intricacies of our minds, decrease the stigma of mental illness, learn practical tips for managing our mental health and wellbeing and recognize when it's time to ask for help. Join me now to Mind Your Mind.
Welcome to this episode of Mind Your Mind. Our guest is April Morris. April is an outpatient therapist in Fargo and provides therapy for those over 16, primarily adults. April, it's great to have you on Mind Your Mind. Our topic is Spoons Theory for anxiety and depression. However, before we get to today's topic, there's that question I ask all of our guests and that is why do you do what you do?
I just really love helping people on their journey, with figuring out how to manage life stressors. And it's just a humbling experience that I'm grateful to be a part of.
I think you're figuring it out every day because, whenever I see you, you're smiling. So that's a good thing. And you work with a lot of people in a lot of different situations and to keep a smile on your face, tells me, you do appreciate what you do in helping others. So thank you for that. Again, our topic is Spoon Theory for anxiety and depression. What is the Spoon Theory?
Sure. So it was originally created for more of chronic health illnesses. For example, the person that initially started explaining her challenges in this way, her name is Christine, Christine (I'm going to butcher her last name) Miserandino. She's a lupus advocate. And so you can look her up and find different things that she's written on blogs. Some of her stuff is kind of titled, "But you don't look sick." So it kind of brings a lot of the invisible physical illnesses, as well as mental health, into light because people can't always see them. The idea, right, is that each spoon represents the energy that it takes to complete tasks. So it's common for somebody with depression, then, to have low energy and to really need more time to complete a task. So that might require more spoons, for example.
Yeah. And I read some of her information. I looked her up ahead of our time together, and just interesting how she puts spoons with the conversation with a friend at lunch. And I'm just like, how clever was that? And now here's an opportunity for you to share that information as well. So as we talk about spoons theory and spoons literally are involved. So how are spoons spent or lost?
So if you can imagine actually handing somebody, when they wake up in the morning, 10 spoons, right? So whatever equivalent of spoons they wake up in the morning does depend on maybe their condition and the status of their condition. One morning, you might wake up with 10 spoons; another morning you might wake up with, let's say five spoons. The reason why that changes day to day is, there's this theory of if you borrowed from the day before. So you know when people say, "I overdid it yesterday. And then I had to spend the whole next day in bed," you borrowed spoons. So you wake up the next morning with less spoons and you have to be really mindful with limited energy where you're going to put it. Are you going to put it into cleaning that day, running errands, you know, playing with children, getting out of bed, you know, it really can vary day to day, how you decide to spend your spoons.
So "spending the spoons." What is the thinking behind the spending of the spoons?
So if I only have five spoons for the day, I'll just give myself five, and I'm feeling a little down and depressed, and I've been trying to manage that for a while. It might take me a spoon to get out of bed and shower. Now one is gone and I have four left for the rest of the day. Then I have a big meeting at work that kind of drains me. I lost another spoon. End of the day picking up kids from daycare, making dinner. That's kind of a big rush—that might've cost me a couple of spoons. Now I have no spoons left and I'm pretty exhausted. My capacity to handle a lot energy-wise, mental health or physically, could be little to none
As you spend those spoons, we shouldn't feel, I'm just guessing, we shouldn't feel guilty in that situation. We should look at that. If we've spent five of our spoons for the day, just realizing that we had a tough day and maybe we should cut ourselves a little slack.
Yes, absolutely. I actually think this theory, and a lot of people comment about how it can really be helpful to, one, plan ahead and be realistic with expectations of yourself, depending on what you're trying to manage for an illness. And it's very self forgiving. It can help you not compare and judge yourself to other people because everybody's spoon quantity, like I said, is different every morning, based on your starting energy, and each person's tolerance is different. So it really promotes not comparing yourself.
So we've lost some spoons. How do we get them back?
That's right. Well, Christine says the original theory was you couldn't get them back. But mental health that have applied this Spoon Theory say you can gain them back with time, rest, basically self care, right? So, if you borrowed spoons, that might mean you take a nap, and it's okay. And accepting that a nap is going to be part of that Saturday because you had a busy family weekend. Maybe you sleep in one day. Maybe, you know, it's focusing on your nutrition and staying hydrated and taking medications as directed; whatever it may be that we can stay as healthy as possible and give our body the best opportunity physically and mentally, to have the most spoons that we can have each and every day.
I appreciate the fact that we're not to judge ourselves based on someone else, and then be willing to forgive yourself. That's, I mean, two big things I got out of what you were just talking about.
Yes. I think a lot of people get disappointed. If you're in the thick, the worst part of your depression, maybe you woke up with 10 spoons and it took all 10 spoons to shower. So in therapy, we would really talk about like, "Wow, you got up and you showered. That's great. That took everything you had. I'm proud of you." And knowing that that's okay sometimes, and that that's going to be the hand that you're dealt and not again, comparing yourself, or I didn't get all these other things done.
Now, how about the support system for those that are doing spoons, as far as if you know, someone that is going through therapy using the spoons, what are some, maybe a few tips just for us to encourage them? Is that something that's recommended?
Yeah, I think in general, I feel like the Spoon Theory is kind of just, it's a concept, right? Of getting us to really conceptualize our energy and how it's a limited resource and how do we make the best of it and being graceful to ourselves. And if you're supporting someone, I feel like just telling them that that self care might include therapy and make sure that they have good self care. See if you can give them ideas of how to, to do what fits for them. And if it's you yourself again, if you're not really sure how this works or how to rebuild your energy or how to conceptualize this, therapy, individual therapy, support groups, whether it's for your individual illness or overall mental health. There's so many groups, depending on what type of group you're looking for. Always encourage reaching out.
Excellent, excellent. Spoon Theory for anxiety and depression. A lot of amazing nuggets in everything that you shared with us. Any other thoughts before we wrap up?
All right. We almost saw your head going back and forth as you were saying, "No." It's always great to have you with us before we go, that last question as we wrap up, what do you do personally, to mind your mind?
I just love being outside to me. That's the most relaxing thing that I can do to replenish. So if I can get a few minutes outside in the sun, by myself, take a walk, I love being at the lake. If it's not warm, I will take a bath and pretend I'm somewhere warm. And you know, you do what you have to do and use your mind to be mindful and take you there.
Well when you're in that warm spot in a tub, watch out for the sharks. April, thank you for spending time with us. We appreciate you. Thank you for being on Mind Your Mind.
Thank you for joining us for Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services. You can't have health without behavioral health. Remember to mind your mind. For more information, links to additional resources, contact information, and much more go to dakotafamilyservices.org.
People tend to perceive risk as being inherently negative. But for teenagers, risk-taking is a healthy, normal, and important part of growing up. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, about creating a safe environment for your teenager to take risks—and knowing when to step in when they start taking risks that could result in serious and long-term negative consequences.;
Fifteen-25% of American students have experienced bullying. And cyberbullying is on the rise. Children who experience bullying suffer from long-lasting effects including depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, low academic achievement, and more. Children engaging in bullying behavior are impacted as well. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services therapist, April Morris, LMSW, talks about the impact of bullying and what parents can do to help.;
2020 was the year for living with chaos. Everything—at home, at work, and at school—is out of sync and changing from day to day. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer, shares simple tips for building routine and structure into your life. She also provides an excellent, yet simple, way to ground yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious.;
Children experience grief over many things—the loss of a loved one, moving away from their friends, the death of a pet. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the stages of grief, and how to walk your child through the grieving process. He will also talk about ways to determine if your child needs to see a professional who can help them untangle the many emotions of grief.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about suicide warning signs and things you can do to make a difference. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, wants to normalize conversations about suicide so people don't feel like they are suffering alone. She says, "There is never a reason to not ask the question, 'Hey, are you OK?' Asking the question can save a life.";
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Dr. Wayne Martinsen. Dr. Martinsen, Medical Director and Psychiatric at Dakota Family Services, defines wellness as more than just the absence of disease, but as a state of well-being. In this episode he will share current wellness research, questions to ask to determine your own well-being, and steps you can take to achieve and maintain wellness.;
When someone in our life has cancer, it's difficult to know what to say or how to help. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to April Morris about how you can best support a friend or loved one who has cancer. Morris, an outpatient therapist at Dakota Family Services, shares tips for knowing what/what not to say, and actions that speak louder than words.;
Sleep is just as important for mental health as it is physical health. During sleep, our brains process our memories, emotions, and other information. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," April Morris tells us why sleep is so important for overall well-being and encourages us to prioritize sleep. April, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, provides practical tips for improving sleep hygiene so you can live your best life.;
Stress does not discriminate, and it comes in many shapes and forms. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dr. Megan Spencer talks about ways to identify and listen to the stress in our bodies. Learn relaxation techniques for managing stress over time, self-care routines that decrease negative stress, and things you can do to bring calm into your life.;
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our well-being. Exercise increases our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Christy Wilkie, therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about how movement, even for five minutes, can promote changes in the brain that lead to neural growth, reduced inflammation, and feelings of calm and well-being. Listen now to learn more about how moving your body can improve your mental health.;
Diagnosing children with a mental health-related condition can be controversial. Many worry this gives children a label that is set in stone and will follow them around their entire lives. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen talks about the role of diagnosis in getting children the help they need. Martinsen encourages us to think about mental health diagnoses the same as we do any health diagnosis. If you go the doctor and they diagnose you with strep throat, that doesn’t mean you’ll have strep throat forever, or that you are a strep throat victim. It just means that you have a collection of symptoms that point to strep throat, and the doctor will use that diagnose to provide the appropriate treatment.;
ADHD is diagnosed and treated at a much higher rate than in the past, especially in the United States. Why? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist/Medical Director at Dakota Family Services, explains how the changing world has made it harder for people with shorter attention spans to be successful. In the past, if school was hard for you, you could get a job, work your way up, and live a middle-class lifestyle. Not so in today’s world. Learn more about this fascinating take on ADHD.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about the Feelings Wheel*. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, says humans experience 34,000 different feelings! She demonstrates how to use the Feelings Wheel to help you identify your emotions so you can control the behaviors associated with them. *Adapted by classtools.net from the Emotional Wheel. The Emotional Wheel was developed by American psychologist, Dr. Robert Plutchik.;
In today's episode of "Mind Your Mind," Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, talks about the many changes occurring in the teen brain. The teenage brain is highly susceptible to stress, but it is also very resilient. Learn coping strategies you can teach your teen to protect their brains and help them cope with stress and emotional struggles.;
Going back to school after summer vacation can be a stressful time for both kids and parents. The transition from the unstructured summer to a more regimented routine can lead to stress and anxiety. Worries about fitting in, bullying, homework, getting to school on time, and dealing with peer pressure are all additional stressors that may weigh on children when it's time to go back to school. In this episode of “Mind Your Mind,” Tim Unsinn speaks with Therapist Falan Johnson. Falan helps us understand why back to school anxiety is common, provides strategies for managing the added stress, and shares resources parents can use to prepare their children for the new school year.;
The grief of losing a friend or loved one to suicide is complicated and can be especially difficult. In addition to the grief, sadness, and loneliness of any loss, people might experience guilt, confusion, rejection, anger, and shame. The stigma of suicide complicates it even more, often preventing survivors talking about their loss or getting the help they need. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Tim Unsinn visits with Dakota Family Services' therapist, Christy Wilkie. Christy helps listeners understand the complicated nature of suicide grief and how to move through it with compassion and self-acceptance.;
You will be shocked at the seemingly safe places predators can connect with your children online. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the things you need to know to keep your children safe. Learn the many websites and platforms used to target children, how to monitor their internet usage, and how to talk to your children about the dangers.;
Pregnancy and the birth of a child can be a joyous and exciting time, but some women struggle with their mental health as they transition to motherhood. Depression, anxiety, and other pregnancy-related mental health conditions may surface during or after pregnancy. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Tim Unsinn speaks with Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer. Dr. Spencer helps us understand the common symptoms and causes of postpartum depression, as well as what to do if you think you may be experiencing it.;
Did you know that in addition to calming and focusing our minds, meditation can improve our physical health? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn visits with Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist, Dakota Family Services, about the surprising health benefits of meditation. A regular meditation practice can increase longevity, reduce the risk of dementia, reduce inflammation, and play a significant role in the treatment of high blood pressure and immune disorders. Learn about the many forms of meditation and how you can start your own meditation practice today.;
While we hear a lot about autism in the news, many of us still have misconceptions about its causes and symptoms. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist Falan Johnson dispels some of these misconceptions and explains the three levels of autism. Johnson then focuses on the least understood level—high functioning autism. Learn how to identify symptoms of high functioning autism in your child, the importance of early intervention, and ways you can support them.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist April Morris talks about boundaries. April will define boundaries, explain their importance, and help you set boundaries that match your values and strengthen your relationships. Learn how healthy boundaries can improve your mental and physical health, and how you can say “no” respectfully.;
Going through infertility tests and treatments can be an extremely difficult and lonely time for couples. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel talks about his own experience. He also shares tips for couples struggling with infertility, and for friends and family members who want to be supportive but don’t know what to say or do.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Therapist Falan Johnson about panic attacks. What do they feel like? What causes them? How can you prevent or manage them? Listen now to learn more and discover techniques that might work for you or your loved one.;