Monday, April 27, 2020

Coping with COVID-19 Related Mental Health Challenges

How are you doing and coping? I hope you are prioritizing self-care, having some fun, and staying healthy. This month I am sharing an excellent and detailed resource for coping with a variety of mental health challenges related to COVID-19, social distancing guidelines and recent changes in our daily schedules. I am hopeful that this resource will be helpful and supportive. 


Thursday, March 26, 2020

COPE 
I am writing to you during a very interesting, unique, and unprecedented time in our history. In my role, I have seen the increase in anxiety that has developed regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. My goal is to help all of us COPE in a healthy way so that our lives can continue to be meaningful. 

Connect with others 
Social distancing can be difficult, but this practice does not need to keep you from connecting with others. Consider chatting via video or text with friends and family. Take a walk together (keeping at least 6 feet apart). Drive to a local beach or park that is open, meet others and listen to music while everyone stays in their own car. Share pictures.  Connect with others on social media. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while on the phone (yes, I said to call, not just text). Forgive people who have hurt you. Join an online class.  

Offer help and assistance 
Your skills, compassion, and talent are needed. How can you help someone else? This may be delivering groceries to an elderly neighbor or sick friend (drop at the door). You may call someone who is feeling lonely. You can donate a gift card, food, or money to a local food bank or mission. You can read with your children.  You can make a rainbow and hang it on your front door or windows. You can send a loving e-card to a friend or family member.  Send a loving thank you note to our healthcare workers. Contact your local nursing home for opportunities to share messages of hope and love for the residents via video. 

Practice good hygiene, healthy eating, exercise and handwashing 
I know you’ve been hearing this a lot lately, but it is important. Take care of yourself. You will be healthier and a better husband/wife, son/daughter, girlfriend/boyfriend, employee, parent, partner, co-worker and leader if you do.  Eat a well-balanced nutritious diet. Go outside. Exercise. Wash those hands! 

Enjoy life and make the most of it 
These are weird and challenging times.  We are all in this together. We can enjoy unstructured time. We can find the odd balance between working at home and parenting. We can adjust to different schedules. We can still be connected socially. We can bake and try new recipes. We can learn from great authors (check out lunch doddles with Mo Willems https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/mo-willems/). We can take a virtual museum tour. We can watch movies. We can read. We can learn a new skill. We can spend time with our families. We can be less distracted with the usual business of life and embrace some simplicity. We can and would benefit greatly from limiting our news intake.  

Thank you to every single health care worker and essential workforce member- you are working so hard to keep people healthy and the world running as normal and safely as possible. I am forever grateful. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

"Little and Often Makes Much"

Setting goals can be overwhelming at times. We set ahead to lose weight, watch less TV, exercise more, meet more people, apply for a new job, ask someone out, quit smoking, take a vacation, and spend less money. We set high expectations. Lose 50 lbs without gaining anything back. Watch Netflix only on weekends for 20min. Apply for 15 jobs in a day. Stop buying coffee. While it is possible to attain goals with high expectations, we are more likely to give up completely if there aren’t certain characteristics that are met. 

Goals work best when they are specific and measurable. This means we have a budget for spending or a specific amount and type of positions to apply for within a designated amount of time.  

Goals work best when they are reasonable and achievable. This means we understand that changing from smoking 20 cigarettes in a day or from watching 6 hours of TV every day to none at all the next day will be very hard and almost unrealistic.  

Goals work best when we are kind to ourselves. Punishing ourselves for setbacks, failures, lack of motivation, or setting unrealistic goals will not help us to grow. Forgiving ourselves and understanding that true growth takes time, energy, and nurturing will. 

Goals work best when we remember that “little and often makes much.” Taking small, healthy, and realistic steps towards a larger goal can build habits and positively contribute to our success. 

Start by doing a little of something often and see how you grow. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Mindsets Matter

Happy New Year!

Flexibility in our world is so important. Being flexible in our thinking, attitude, and relationships can make a positive impact in your life.  One of the key areas regarding our well-being and mental health is mindset. This month, I am sharing some of Dr. Dweck’s research on fixed and growth mindsets.  Why does this matter? Check out her work here.
 
Let’s start off the new year with hope for the future, flexibility in our thinking, and love in our relationships! 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Holiday Coping Resources

The holiday season can be merry, fun, and joyful for some people and depressing, anxiety provoking, and stressful for others. There are so many dynamics with family, friends, and activities at work. Here are some interesting articles about coping with some common cause of holiday stress.  

Managing Holiday Stress for the Stressed 

Feasting Together Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life 

The Paradox of the Perfectly Wrapped Present 

Let Your Heart Be Light  

Just Be 

Helpful Strategies for Celebrating with Special Needs 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Wait it Out

Have you suffered from an anxiety disorder? Have you experienced a panic attack before? Have you felt like anxiety would never end?  

Feeling anxious is incredibly uncomfortable. You may feel sweaty. You may feel that you are not getting enough air in. You may feel sick. You may feel like your heart is racing. You may feel a tight chest, tingly hands, or sweaty palms. You may think this will never end. You may think you’re dying. You may think that something has gone terribly wrong with your body. 

Anxiety is a normal human emotion. We all experience anxious feelings during our lives. Anxiety is supposed to show up when we are in danger, such as being chased by a mountain lion or driving during a white-out blizzard. Anxiety is also supposed to show up when we need to be motivated to prepare for something, such as a test, job interview, or meeting someone new. 

Anxiety becomes problematic when it shows up and we are not in danger or we do need to be prepared. Anxiety is problematic when it shows up in a very loud and excessive, noisy way disproportionate to the situation (for example, having your mind “go blank” when taking a test). 

One of the best things you can do to cope with anxiety is to just let it be. 

Wait it out. 

Anxiety will not last forever. It is temporary. 

One of the best ways I have seen this described was on a recent episode of This is Us. Real anxiety symptoms and panic attacks have been depicted on this show.  One of the characters disclosed how he suffered from anxiety and how his mom helped him. His mother would pour seltzer into a cup and say that this represents anxiety. All he had to do was wait for the bubbles to settle.  

Wait for the bubble to settle. Wait for the anxiety to pass. It will- that is how your body was designed. 
Of course, anxiety can pass quicker if you use other coping skills such as deep breathing or telling yourself you’re not in danger. The key here- it passes even if you do nothing. 

So, just wait.