Post-Pandemic Social Gatherings.

Here’s a short excerpt of some very interesting suggestions concerning relearning how to socialize after the pandemic. From a recent New York Times article …………

 

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Though you may be chafing at the confines of the lockdown, remember that it’s still not entirely safe to resume social activities as before. Across most of the country, the risk of coronavirus transmission is still high. Here are some suggestions:

 

  • Though the past month has seen a spate of reopenings across the country, some scenarios might still set off a siren in your head. And because these facilities are open, doesn’t mean you need to go.
  • “Assess your own risk level and comfort,” “So you’re very clear about what you would and would not like to do.” This will also provide you with a clear document of how your comfort levels are changing over time as you readjust.

Brace for tough conversations.

  • This empathy and candor will also be an asset if you find that your friends and peers have developed the tendency to over share, either out of anxiety or being starved for conversation. (You may be doing it yourself, too.) If a conversation subject makes you uncomfortable or anxious, say so.
  • It’s OK if you don’t feel ready to see people socially again. Through the challenges of the lockdown period, you may have found that “your mental health is served best when you have time for calm and rest and introspection,” Dr. McBride said.
  • So pace yourself while considering the benefits of getting back out there: Even casual interactions have shown to foster a sense of belonging and community. “Social interaction is critical to our existence,” 
  • “If you’re comfortable going to a dinner at a small family restaurant, you can do that.” “If you want to wait a month or two, that’s OK, too.”

“Prepare Yourself for Gatherings.” New York Times (March 29, 2021).

Family Counseling and the Pandemic — Tips for You.

                          Image result for families and mental health
     Good information for mental health for families and individuals. From the World Health Organization ……….. World Health Organization (Your Mental Health) (2021).
   
      The new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues take time to get used to. Fortunately, there are lots of things that we can do to look after our own mental health. Here are tips and advice that we hope you will find useful.

 

  • Keep informed. Listen to advice and recommendations from your national and local authorities. Follow trusted news channels.
  • Get up and go to bed at similar times every day.
  • Keep up with personal hygiene.
  • Eat healthy meals at regular times.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Allocate time for working and time for resting.
  • Make time for doing things you enjoy.
  • Minimize newsfeeds. Try to reduce how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. Seek the latest information at specific times of the day, once or twice a day if needed. 
  • Social contact is important. If your movements are restricted, keep in regular contact with people close to you by telephone and online channels.
  • Alcohol and drug use. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink alcohol at all.
World Health Organization (Your Mental Health) (2021).

KEEPING IN TOUCH — REALLY ESSENTIAL FOR GRANDPARENTS.

Here are a few suggestions for keeping in contact with your grandchildren:

  • Zoom cooking sessions. Food is always a great connector.
  • If grandkids live nearby, taking nature walks. Bring a surprise snack. Gives you great time together.
  • Zoom (or Facetime or Skype) a favorite story. Everyone loves story hour.
  • Playing online or by cell phone various word games.  Just pick a theme and see where that goes. Kids love it.
  • Talk about the future and specifically what the kids would like to do when covid is over and when they get a bit older.

It’s really important to stay in touch — for both the grandparent and for the grandchild.

Sadness and What to Do — 5 Simple Strategies.

   

                         

 

 This year has been emotionally hard for many people. The following strategies have been shown to help people keep their low moods from overwhelming them or turning into a major depression. The following suggestions are contained in a new article published recently.

 

           1. Reduce overthinking.

            2. Move around and socialize, even if you don’t feel like it.

             3. Increase self-compassion.

             4. Sideline thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness.

             5. Notice when you feel well and build on that.

“How to keep your sadness from turning into depression.” Washington Post (December 1, 2020).

                           

Emerging Teletherapy — Good for the Client and the Therapist.

                           

Good piece on the emerging field of teletherapy. Here’s three statements from it:

  • In addition to being driven by the pandemic and the availability of technology, the proliferation of teletherapy in recent months has been aided by policy changes that have increased accessibility to services in many areas of the country. One of the modifications to existing regulations is the expansion of insurance to better cover more methods of teletherapy, including phone sessions. 
  • Conducting teletherapy sessions from home can benefit providers as well as patients. One therapist says, “There were things that I learned about people that I had not known until I saw them in their home. It was amazing what insight I was able to gather just by looking inside their home as a session was conducted.”
  • The convenience of being able to hop on a video call with a therapist from home is one of the main reasons many are planning to continue with teletherapy, even if there is an option to be seen in person.

    Here’s the link to the full article. I highly recommend it. “Emerging Teletherapy.” Washington Post  (Nov. 19, 2020).

TeleCounseling — Here to Stay.

Good article discussing telemedicine –specifically,  virtual counseling. It concludes: “The coronavirus pandemic has forced medical centers around the world to  adopt telemedicine.  Some patients are not comfortable with the technology, or can’t afford it; others need services that cannot be provided entirely online.” But the conclusion is that this is generally good. Such counseling crosses state lines. But the federal government has changed its rule to allow it. My observation is that much of this is here to stay.

The Psychiatrist Will See You Online Now.” NEW YORK TIMES (Sept. 1, 2020).

Microaggression — Ready a Response.

 Good article in the New York Times today about how to respond to micro aggressions. Here are some observations from that article:

 

  • For many of us, microaggressions are so commonplace that it seems impossible to tackle them one at a time. Psychologists often compare them to death by a thousand cuts.

  • The first step to addressing a microaggression is to recognize that one has occurred and dissect what message it may be sending.

  • Discrimination — no matter how subtle — has consequences.

  • Even once you have decided that you can respond to a microaggression, knowing what to say or how to behave can be nerve-racking.

  • While your response will vary by situation, context and relationship, one recommendation is to memorize one tactic from a list of prepared statements. For example, ask for more clarification.  

  • Learning to draw boundaries and find support among allies is one of the most important steps in dealing with microaggressions.

My suggestion — In confronting microaggressions,remember it is the aggressor that has the problem, not you. Be prepared with a response beforehand. Unfortunately, some (many?) micro aggressors are serial aggressors. Just be prepared when you meet this person again. It’s not going to change, unfortunately.

 

“Microaggressions: Death by a Thousand Cuts.” New York Times (June 15, 2020).

Controlling Stress — 7 Suggestions.

Good piece in the New York Times today giving 7 suggestions on how to control your emotions during this time of stress.. “When Small Things Become Insurmountable.” Seems pretty simple but they are good suggestions.

 1. Breathe

  • As clichéd as it sounds, stopping to take a breath can snap you out of your mood. When you are feeling your worst, stop and take two minutes to inhale and exhale deeply. 

2. Apologize

  • If your blowup involved another person, simply apologize.
    And after apologizing, 

3. Exercise

  •  A single bout of exercise can boost positive feelings for a few hours afterward. 

4. Tackle a challenge

  • Sometimes you just need a distraction. A hard puzzle or game can be the perfect antidote.

5. Find a way to connect

  •  Most of us feel starved for that contact right now. Call a friend, do a video chat, or even just sit on your fire escape and wave at the person in the next building over.

6. But skip the punching bag or scream session

  • Venting your anger may actually make you feel worse. 

7. Find what you’re thankful for

  • A lot of things in the world are bad right now, but figuring out what you’re thankful for can help you bounce back.
    Expressing gratitude for the people or things in our lives “can help us feel more connected and inspired to help others.” 

 

Therapy and Pandemic — Seven Observations.

Therapist (women on couch)

Some good observations from a recent piece discussing therapy and the pandemic.  This is a starting point for many who are dealing with this difficult time.

• It is completely normal that Americans are feeling stressed, anxious, sad and irritable. But for people in an unprecedented situation dealing with unfamiliar emotions, it can be difficult.

• You should consider professional help if you are: feeling anxious, tense or angry all the time.

• Therapy offers a chance to speak confidentially to a professional about what you are dealing with.

• Psychiatric medications can be helpful with or without therapy. “There are both short-term and longer-term pharmacological solutions.

• When looking for a therapist who could be a good fit for you or your family member, consider asking your primary-care physician. Searching the Internet for therapists and reading their websites can be quite helpful.

• Most therapists have transitioned to teletherapy because of the coronavirus lockdown.

• Recent research has found that video-enabled teletherapy is effective and the therapeutic relationship and satisfaction with therapy do not suffer.

“Feeling Irritable in Pandemic?” Washington Post (May 26, 2020).

Mental-Health & the Pandemic: Four Helpful Hints.

From a recent post on CNBC (May 12th, 2020). ……………

We are in the middle of a mental-health crisis. Millions of Americans are suffering in silence. They are sad and alone. They feel scared and hopeless.

These feelings can become all-consuming and interfere with our lives in profound ways: disrupting our sleep, making it impossible to concentrate, putting stress on our relationships or making it feel like even getting out of bed is too much to handle.

It turns out that mental illness is normal.

To that point, many people were struggling to keep it together before the crisis. Some had never experienced a mental-health challenge before and are now suffering from anxiety and depression. Some are struggling to adjust to the direct health and economic consequences of the virus — job loss, financial stress, illness and/or the death of a loved one.

Stop beating yourself up. Yes, many people have it a lot worse than you. Yes, you have much to be grateful for. But that doesn’t mean you’re not suffering.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Look for the opportunity. The pain is real. It is important for you to take time to honor reality. Spend time keeping a journal about your feelings and talking with a supportive other.

Ask for help. Social connection is critical to our mental health. Make it a point to connect with friends and family members daily using technology.

There is no reason you should be going through this alone and therapy can help. The great news is that there are more opportunities now than ever right to establish a relationship with a therapist using  tele-health services.