Are you feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed right now? Well, you have every right to feel that way. It is a good habit to reflect on all the things you have and not ruminate on all the things going wrong, to keep your mental health balanced. However, sometimes it is okay to just say “hey, I am having a hard time right now” and for someone else to validate how you feel. This is a tough time. Stress about health and worry for loved ones, concerns about personal and global finances, and other greater life concerns that many people are facing may only be part of what is causing issues. There are those who are alone and isolated, those who are overwhelmed by family at home, those missing important life events, and so on. Just because it is not a crisis does not mean it isn’t important and you don’t deserve to have feelings about it. Yeah, maybe someone does have it harder, but that doesn’t mean what you are going through isn’t hard or important. Be well friends.
It is important to acknowledge the impact the current covid-19 pandemic situation has had on our home lives and relationships with our families. Many people are experiencing stress for different reasons and are expressing their stress in different ways, but when we are locked in close quarters, it is hard for it not to all impact the entire family. I want to validate those who are struggling with their home lives and encourage them to keep doing the things they need to do to recharge their batteries and maintain good mental health.
Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed because of the Covid-19 pandemic? You are not alone my friends. I have had several people ask about suggestions for dealing with the stress of the situation, so I decided to put together a short video with some quick tips to help manage the stress and anxiety you might be experiencing.
Do you have questions or want me to cover specific topics? Email me and I will see what I can do! Be well my friends.
You can’t scroll through the news or social media outlets without being bombarded by the news about COVID-19. Most of us are feeling the effects of the lifestyle changes that have rapidly taken place.
Why are people not doing well emotionally?
We Worry About Loved Ones
Even if you are not concerned about your own health, most of us have people we care about people who fall into the “vulnerable population” category. It is scary to have to sit back and wait, not knowing who could be effected, and feeling helpless to do anything about it.
You may be one of the people who are worried about how you are going to get by without pay as workplaces shut down. Even if you are one of the lucky folks who are still being paid, it is scary and sad to know that people you know and love are being hit hard, and we still have yet to know how bad the blow will be.
Everyone jokes about how extroverts are a mess but introverts have been preparing for this moment! But the fact of the matter is that introverts are doing just as badly as everyone else. When we lose the ability to choose what we are going to do next, even if it involves just going to the store, that is very difficult to manage emotionally.
The Issues are Control and Connection
It all comes down to we want to feel in control of our lives. We want to be able to help the people we care about, we want to be able to prepare for what is coming next, we want to do something, but our options are limited and the future is uncertain.
On top of that, most humans crave connection with others. You don’t have to be an extrovert to enjoy time with others or just time out and about doing things you enjoy and being around people. Feeling cut off from others, even the small interactions with people you don’t know at the market, can take a serious toll on mental well being.
What to Do
Control what you can.
A routine can help keep the day going and prevent the development of unhealthy habits. Plan out a day that feels productive and rewarding. Some people find cleaning to be relaxing, especially when life feels a little chaotic, so consider doing some tidying up and organizing. Make sure that you are still taking care of your health by eating right and keeping up hygiene practices. No one can see you at home, but if you do have an emergency, do you want to not have showered in 5 days? If you are unsure, no, you do not.
Get outside if you can.
Being outside and getting some movement can have major benefits across many domains, sunshine paired with movement, win win! Plus getting out and doing a “normal” activity can help you regain center. Maybe you will even see people you can wave at from a healthy distance!
Connect with others
It is important to continue to connect with those you care about and who care about you. People often think “I don’t want to bug this person” or “I don’t want to put my problems on them” but it usually makes both people feel better when connection has been made. When possible, do a video chat so you can get the full benefit of time together, face to face.
Try something new
You know how I mention rewarding earlier? Well, try out a new hobby, read a different kind of book, learn to bake, try learning another language, or teach your kids new things. It will help build positive emotion if you are doing things that are interesting and make you feel accomplished.
What Not to Do
I know it can be really stressful and you may feel alone, but you aren’t. If you feel alone, reach out to those you care about and just check in; they may need you as much as you need them. If you have limited connections, well now is the time to build them. Connect with people you haven’t talked to as much or try to meet new people through online social resources.
It is good to be informed and to know what is going on, but being glued to the news or media that is giving coverage may not be healthy, in fact, it might cause one to panic. Try to not engage in coverage more than a couple times a day. You may also need to cut back on social media if the content is triggering a stress response.
Stress plus being bored can lead to some seriously bad coping skills. I too enjoy the ‘add to cart’ stress relief, but financially, it is a bad idea. Sometimes people do a little too much online shopping, snacking, sleeping, drinking, all nighters gaming, and other activities that may be fine in moderation, but in excess can be quite unhealthy. Try be mindful of your activities because you might not notice the increase until it has gotten to an undesirable state.
One important take away is that if you are feeling alone, stress, anxious, or depressed related to this current situation, that is normal. It is not pleasant, but it is a normal response to such an extreme situation. Hopefully following some of the tips above will help the situation stay manageable until this passes.
However, if you feel like you might be slipping beyond what is manageable, reach out to a loved one or mental healthcare professional. There are support services out there to help you.
Choosing a therapist can be intimidating because there are so many out there but you want to find the one that is the best fit for you. Maybe you have even had a bad experience in the past and that left you feeling more unsure about what to look for. Here are some suggestions to help you find “the one”.
You can use google, but sites like Psychology Today have a long list of verified providers in your area. You can narrow your search by adding specifics like male, female, veteran, online, and/or therapy approach. This will make the list somewhat more manageable. Does the person look like someone you might want to talk to? Click the profile and get more info. You can also ask around. You would be surprised by the number of people you know who have been in therapy. If you feel comfortable, reach out to trusted friends to see who they might suggest.
A therapist profile is going to be brief but it will give you an idea of how that person might be in interactions. Not only are therapists as people very different, but how they conduct sessions can vary as well. If there person looks like a good fit and you get a good vibe from their profile, then go to their website. That is where you are really going to get a good feel for what this person is like, what services they provide, and specialty training.
Most therapists can be contacted via phone or email, so reach out however is most comfortable. Be sure to leave contact information but try not to share any thing confidential because it may be unsecured. Many therapists, like myself, offer a free consult. That means you meet or talk on the phone to see if you are both a good fit for one another. My clients may have not done telehealth before, so it is a good time to see if they like the platform and feel comfortable doing therapy online. If you don’t think it is a good fit, there is no pressure to begin services. In fact, I will help people who consult find a different provider if they they need services that are outside of my scope of practice!
What if I had a bad experience with therapy in the past?
Sometimes a therapist and client just do not jive. I have had many clients over the years who at first weren’t sure about going back to therapy because of a bad experience. I encourage you to have an open mind and understand that just like all humans, there are a wide variety of therapists out there and maybe you just didn’t get the right one for you. Hopefully with some research, you will be able to find someone who is a good fit.
Commonly Asked Questions
This whole fee thing is confusing, what does it all mean?
Some therapists accept insurance and so you may be limited to certain providers. Additionally, insurance companies may limit the number of session you can have. You may be able to work out a payment schedule for after insurance does not pay.
Some therapists do not accept insurance. Many choose not to do this due to the limitations set forth by insurance companies. Some may have a firm fee and some may provide a sliding scale. A sliding scale is when a client cannot afford the therapist’s full fee and so the fee is reduced to meet the client’s means. Proof of eligibility, like a pay stub, may be required.
How many sessions should I expect?
This completely depends on your insurance and your needs. Insurance may only pay for a certain number of sessions and so you and your therapist can decide how you want to spend that time. If you are private pay it is between you and your therapist how long you will be in therapy. Some people just need a brief intervention that takes 6-8 weeks, while others spend years in therapy. You can set the pace for your treatment though.
What if I get going and I am not making progress or I don’t like my therapist?
Therapy is a deeply personal relationship and so you need to have a deep level of trust with the your therapist. If you feel like you are not making progress or don’t feel the connection you want to expect, you can talk it over with your therapist to see if they can make changes to make the session feel more productive for you.
It is also okay to decide to go with someone else. If you feel comfortable with your therapist, they may be able to help you find someone who is a good fit for you, since they have gotten to know you. You don’t have to worry about hurting your therapist’s feelings. Trust me, we have thick skin!
The holiday season often brings out the inner generosity of people; you may have even been on the receiving end of those gestures. Whether it be a cup of coffee at Starbucks, letting you skip ahead in the grocery line, or a loved one making you a special treat, these moments are actually small gifts that can impact your mental well-being. In fact, these experiences can improve your quality of life, increase your experienced happiness, and foster relationship building, when you spend time being grateful for them. When you sit back and reflect on all the good stuff you have, instead of focusing on where you are not or what you do not have, you can feel pretty amazing. So why don’t we do it all year?
What Makes Gratitude Hard?
While I don’t get free coffee all year, good things happen
all the time. So what keeps us from
seeing all the amazing stuff around us? We
as humans naturally tend to notice where things go wrong and spend time focusing
on those things. Thinking about ways we
can improve ourselves or situations is a good thing; it gets us motivated to
make change. However, if you find
yourself constantly thinking about how you are not good enough, comparing
yourself to others on social media, and thinking about all the things you don’t
have, you could feel pretty defeated.
The Good News is, We Can Do Something About It
The good news is, there is something we can do to retrain
our brain to notice the good things in our lives, because they are there, even
in the toughest of times. The use of a
gratitude journal is a great way to start practicing finding the things to be
grateful for and proactively creating more situations that make you happy. A gratitude journal is an activity you can do
every night to think about the good things that happened that day. It is
important to also write down some additional information about how the event
happened, who helped it happen, what about it was so special to you, or ways
you could experience this good thing again.
Spending time thinking about the things you are grateful for is how you
get the biggest effect.
Benefits of Gratitude as a Life Practice
Not only to you get to re-enjoy these experiences through
memory, but by spending the time processing why these things meant so much to
you, you might begin to realize just how many good things you have experienced.
The more you practice, the more that you
will begin to notice the good things that happen throughout the day in real time!
Imagine the impact on your brain to see
so many good things in your life! You
will also learn how to replicate these events when possible. If you know you
felt great after walking your dog, volunteering, or calling a close friend, you
know how to make that positive emotion experience happen again. You then become more in control over your own
But Wait, There’s More!
Not only will you experience more positive emotion and see
the world in a better and more accurate light, gratitude is a great way to
improve meaningful relationships. Imagine instead of sitting down with the kids
at dinner and asking, “how was your day” in which you will likely get
“fine”, the family goes around and tells about what good thing
happened today. This helps the whole
family learn to see the positive things in their lives and promotes family
bonding. The atmosphere is usually quite
excited when everyone gets to talk about something that made them happy.
Also, don’t forget to take the time to let someone know when
they have done something that you are grateful for, no matter how small. When people go out of their way to do nice things
and are not acknowledged, especially over time, they may stop doing those small
acts of kindness because they feel they go unnoticed or unappreciated. It takes such little effort to say, “I
noticed that thing you did and it brightened my day”. Practicing gratitude with those we care about
is a great way to build positive emotion in relationships!
Make it a Practice, Not a Season
Gratitude needs to be something we practice every day,
especially the days we don’t feel like it. There is nothing too small to list in your
journal. Sometimes it will be hard,
because some days are hard. When you can
find nuggets of goodness, even in the toughest days, it lightens the stress and
negative emotion you are experiencing. The best way to ensure you don’t start
slacking on your gratitude plan is to make it part of your daily routine. You
can keep a journal and write in it at night, do a nightly or dinner time
sharing session with friends or family, or jot things down through the day to
review at night. So long as you make the practice of doing it every day, you
will be training your brain to be more positive and to notice where things are
going right, all while improving meaningful relationships! Win win win!