Woman sewing cloth cotton face mask to protect against the corona virus at home. Homemade handicraft protective mask against covid 19 virus. Reusable face mask.

Making Masks

It’s looking like my kids will be starting school in person this year, and while I am 1) nervous about it and 2) even more nervous about it, I’m trying to be proactive and turn my anxiety into actual work. I’m tempted to just go out and buy a bunch of masks (and let’s be honest, I most likely will), but before the school year begins, I’ve set the goal for myself of making at least five masks per child.

As much as I hate the idea of having to keep track of where their masks are every day: Did they leave it on the bus? Did they leave it at school? In their locker? In the gym? Where???  I hate the idea of having to wash them and dry them each day even more.

But making masks from scratch actually necessitates making a mask from scratch. It means cutting and sewing and measuring and, for me, a lot of failure. But I have time! And the desire to not have to do laundry is pretty overpowering, everyone.

Here’s how the first try went:

  • Okay. Got the fabric. Cute! The kids will like this print. I’ll take a yard of each, please.
  • …A yard is way too much fabric. Oh well.
  • All right. Just gotta cut it. That’s not very even, is it? Well, I’ll just cut some more here, and maybe make this end even…oh wait, now it’s an inch shorter than what I need. Re-cut!
  • I have to cut TWO pieces??
  • Okay, got my pieces. That only took 45 minutes.
  • Sew the short ends together. Oh wait, I have to thread the machine? How do I do that?
  • Okay, short ends done. Now the long ends. Done.
  • Print sides facing each other? Where’s the seam ripper?
  • Short sides together…
  • Oh, it’s only been 90 minutes.
  • I need a break.

Two Days Later…

  • I think pleats scared me even before I ever thought about making a mask.

I have, since I began this lofty goal several days ago, completed one fully functional mask. Only nine more to go, and I have six weeks until school starts. I’ll totally get it done!

But seriously, folks: all of this is to say that no matter what you try to accomplish, especially in a time where things you need might not be readily available, or if you just want to stop halfway and scream into the void about how unfair all of this is, it can get done. You can do hard things! Like making masks! Because, really…if I can do it, you can definitely do it.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

***

eTalkTherapy - talk with a counselor online

About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Man video calling his psychologist to have a virtual session while in quarantine during the coronavirus

How Healthy is Your Relationship?

Relationships are being put to the test these days. Is your marriage feeling the stress, anxiety and uncertainty of the pandemic? Join Licensed Therapist Kema Mesko for another check-in as she shares some advice on keeping relationships healthy in these difficult times and how couples counseling may be able to help you.

Did you know that you can use online couples counseling from the comfort of your own home? If you’d like to discuss your relationship issues or any other mental health concerns, contact us today for a free consultation.

Bienvenidos Therapist Mary Mehlburger

Hello and Hola! Join us in welcoming the newest member of our eTalkTherapy family, Mary Mehlburger, who brings with her a wealth of clinical experience and is our first Spanish/English speaking therapist.

Welcome aboard Mary! It is good to have you and your expertise, warmth and therapeutic skills available to all our clients. Get to know more about Mary in today’s blog post.

 What does therapy mean to you?

Therapy gives someone the opportunity to form a connection that supports them, while still challenging them to grow and progress. This connection acts as a model for forming new relationships in a person’s life.

What challenges or rewards are there in learning and knowing Spanish for therapy?

Using the Spanish language increases an individual’s comfort level, allowing therapeutic interventions to be more meaningful.

How has COVID-19 shaped your role as a therapist?

Many people are experiencing elevated levels of stress due to COVID-19 that is affecting all areas of their life. This has presented a new challenge, as there is not yet a concrete answer to coping with these new anxieties. However, it does create a common ground to which most people can relate.

What is your life philosophy?

I live by the idea that you only live once. I try to use this philosophy during stressful times to ground myself and during fun times to be present in the moment.

Describe yourself in three words.

Independent, fun-loving, driven.

What was the last book you read?

I am currently reading “The Magic” by Rhonda Byrne. It describes the meaning behind our words and how to use those words to elevate our lives. I love books like this because they give new ideas for my personal life, but also to present to my clients during sessions!

 If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would meet my maternal grandmother. She passed shortly after I was born, but everyone says that I have her wit, ambition, and strength.

 What is something that others would be surprised to learn?

I love to box! I am a regular at my local boxing gym.

Complete this sentence: “The quality I value most in a friend is…”

The quality that I value most in a friend is their loyalty and trustworthiness.

Complete this sentence: “The quality I value most in myself is…”

The quality that I value most in myself is my work ethic.

If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, we can help! Please contact us today about how to register and schedule your live video counseling session Mary.

Vlogger streaming a live video

Circles of Influence

Summer is at last upon us, and I don’t know about you, but every week simultaneously feels like an instant and a million years. There is so much going on all around us, and if you’re one of the lucky ones not feeling overwhelmed by it all, go out and buy yourself a lottery ticket, because it would seem you’re one of the very lucky ones!

I heard a brief talk recently that explained one way that a person could find peace in this extremely chaotic time. The idea wasn’t new per se (in fact, I think it was first referenced in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”) but helpful nonetheless. The speaker talked about two circles: the circle of influence, and the circle of concern. The circle of influence, he explained, was the circle of your immediate life: your self, your family, friends, neighbors, and so on. The circle of concern encapsulated all of the “big issue” things that concern us: our health, financial status, relationships, society at large, etc. It’s called that because those things concern us, and we are concerned by them. The trouble is, though, that a lot of those things that concern us are things that we ourselves have very little control over, and when we sort of blur those circles together, we tend to fall apart. His solution? If you want more peace in the chaos, focus your attention on your Circle of Influence more than your Circle of Concern.

Now, that makes very logical sense to me, but I can see the challenges with this that would easily pop up in my own life, mainly through social media  Because my news feeds and all of that content is shared by people I (mostly) know in real life, it can become overwhelming to sort through the things I can change vs. the thing I can’t.

Does this mean that we can’t affect change on a broader scale? I don’t think it does! I think that it means that the actions I choose to do will, I believe, work outward. I can’t “fix” (or my personal favorite, “control”) really large things that affect millions of people. But I can do my share. And I know that it sounds little, and small, and silly, but hey, something is better than just worrying about how terrible things are and how no one will ever be able to fix them. My effort, and yours, and everyone else’s, can grow and can change things.

But it’s really difficult. It’s not easy to look at our lives and figure out what we can change.  It’s really hard to think outside ourselves. But we can do it, even if we fall short.

I heard a story once about an American woman who read about Mother Teresa’s work in Calcutta, how she used to help the utterly poor and those near death, the ones that no one in society wanted anyone to do with. And, in her zeal and inspiration, this woman traveled to Calcutta, met up with the Sisters of Charity, saw with her own eyes the desperation and the pain and the degrading poverty, and…she just couldn’t do it. She couldn’t help. She had read about it and thought she knew what it was going to be like, but she saw it with her own eyes and just couldn’t move – she was too overwhelmed by it. One of the sisters who worked with Mother Teresa saw this woman’s struggle and didn’t kick her out, didn’t send her back to America. She just asked her to come with her and to help her do the work that needed to get done. Even that little help was enough.

Mother Teresa had that famous line, “Find your own Calcutta.” She knew that there are people in our own lives that suffer immensely, even if it’s not from material poverty. If we stayed home and did that, that would be enough.

It all feels so loud out there. So overwhelming. So in the next few days, try to figure out what your circles are – write them down or draw them out, if you would like to! And see what you can do for your own circle of influence. I hope some peace comes from that both for you and for those who will feel it coming from you!

Until next time, be well!
Christy

***

eTalkTherapy - talk with a counselor online

About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can  follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.

Mom and daughter wearing protective mask in quarantine.

Parenting during a pandemic

Sadness, anger, frustration and disappointment are all normal responses to significant change and disruption in one’s life. It can help to hear that someone understands and acknowledges how difficult life in quarantine can be. Are you struggling to strike the right balance between work and family? You’re not alone! Join Kema and start the conversation on how to cope with and manage your new normal.

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Feeling stressed or anxious? We are here to help. Since 2017, eTalkTherapy.com has been serving Pennsylvanians with online therapy and professional counseling services from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Our licensed professional counselors and experienced therapists are highly skilled in the areas of anxiety, stress, depression and trauma. We provide therapy sessions on a HIPPA secure, live-video website or by phone. Don’t allow your worries or anxieties to spiral out of control. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a confidential and affordable appointment with one of our experienced telehealth therapists.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The New Normal

Mental Health Month in the Shadow of COVID-19

In this COVID-19 crisis we see stark images casting a shadow over our ability to navigate the world. We are now face to face with meaninglessness and nothingness in a way that is unparalleled in our modern times. We have arrived at a point where the old “normal” can no longer continue, and we need to create new meaning, which means change.  That which we have been given is no longer enough; we need something different, something new.

This existential crisis has most of us feeling everything from helpless to fearful to angry to sad and all stops in between. Again, it is okay to feel this way. It may not feel good but trying to push your feelings away or act as if they don’t exist is the unhealthiest thing you can do right now or ever.

Our mental health will suffer over the next several months and possibly for years to come. You might find yourself completely avoiding any reminders of what is happening. Normal daily activities have altered drastically, and we will hardly go back to what looks normal anytime soon.

You would think that the ongoing mental health fallout from COVID-19 would be a much larger point in the current conversation. Yet, it hardly seems that way. So, why does mental health and wellness always seem to end up at the bottom of our ongoing health care debate? Costs are a big barrier to treatment, but so are attitudes. A 2007 study in Psychiatric Services, a Journal of the American Psychiatric Association, looked at several hundred potential mental health clients who had thought about seeking services but decided against it. This can be understood from a financial standpoint considering the enormity of the economic fallout of this crisis.

When questioned 66-percent of those surveyed thought the problem would get better on its own. Seventy-one percent agreed with the statement “I wanted to solve the problem on my own.” Several other studies have shown that many Americans still view depression and anxiety as a sign of weakness, and that seeking treatment demonstrates a lack of character or strength. Mental health does not get the attention it deserves because of the stigma, but nearly one out of every five Americans will have a diagnosable mental disorder within their lifetimes, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Since its inception in 1949, Mental Health Month has been celebrated in May and for 55 years this campaign has provided an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health issues. Americans recognize Mental Health Month with events and activities in communities across the country. Many organizations, such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), engage in ongoing efforts to promote Mental Health Month through increasing public awareness and advocacy.

At eTalkTherapy, we recognize and embrace the goals of Mental Health Month. Our objective is to build public recognition and support about the importance of good mental health and daily wellness, and to provide tips to promote mental wellbeing. We understand and acknowledge that there is more to good mental health than offering platitudes or medical management. Accepting the whole person, not just a diagnosis, is paramount to providing quality care and it is our mission.

Take the first step. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed professionals.

In Good Health,
Don

The Benefits of Deep Breathing on Anxiety

by Don Laird and Christina Pettinato

There are many great ways to promote physical and mental health for you and your family during this time of social isolation and distancing. One highly effective technique is quite simple and can be used anytime. Diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing is intended to help you use the diaphragm (a muscle at the base of the lungs) correctly resulting in less effort and energy to breath. Additionally, it slows your breathing rate and heart rate and decreases oxygen demand, which in turn makes you feel more relaxed and calmer.

There are two ways to perform this exercise. In the video below eTalk Therapist and Mindfulness Expert Christina Pettinato demonstrates the chair method.


You may also perform this technique when lying down.

Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.

Breathe in slowly, deeply, through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand – think of it as a balloon expanding and deflating. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. Tighten your stomach muscles as you do this, letting them fall inward as you exhale through your lips.

When you first learn this relaxing breathing technique, it may be easier for you to follow the instructions lying down. As you gain more practice, you can try the diaphragmatic breathing technique while sitting in a chair, as demonstrated above.

You should practice this exercise 5-10 minutes at least two times per day. Most people prefer to do it before bedtime because it can promote a better night’s sleep. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing this exercise, use soft music or a guided meditation video or audio to enhance the relaxation experience.

Be safe, be healthy, be well,
Don & Christina

Relaxed woman with laptop at home

Staying safe at home

Your mental health matters. During this time of uncertainty, many of us are staying safe at home. But for some, home may not be a safe place to be. If you just need someone to talk to, you’re feeling down, seeking support, or looking for new ways to cope with anxiety, give Kema a call or meet with her live online through eTalkTherapy’s HIPPA secure video portal. Kema specializes in depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, trauma and women’s issues.

All of the experienced and licensed therapists at eTalkTherapy are here to help, contact us today.

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Feeling stressed or anxious? We are here to help. Since 2017, eTalkTherapy.com has been serving Pennsylvanians with online therapy and professional counseling services from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Our licensed professional counselors and experienced therapists are highly skilled in the areas of anxiety, stress, depression and trauma. We provide therapy sessions on a HIPPA secure, live-video website or by phone. Don’t allow your worries or anxieties to spiral out of control. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a confidential and affordable appointment with one of our telehealth therapists.

Smiling woman making video call on laptop

We are in this together

Kema wants to know what are some things you do each day to support your mental health? Looking after your mental health during this crisis can be tricky, but Kema shares some advice for maintaining a healthy routine and keeping a positive attitude.

We are here to help. The experienced and licensed therapists at eTalkTherapy.com will continue to support your mental health and wellness through live-video chat or telephone sessions. If you are in need of some help with your emotional well being or you are struggling with life during this crisis, contact us today.

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Feeling stressed or anxious? We are here to help. Since 2017, eTalkTherapy.com has been serving Pennsylvanians with online therapy and professional counseling services from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Our licensed professional counselors and experienced therapists are highly skilled in the areas of anxiety, stress, depression and trauma. We provide therapy sessions on a HIPPA secure, live-video website or by phone. Don’t allow your worries or anxieties to spiral out of control. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a confidential and affordable appointment with one of our telehealth therapists.

Medical worker in safety glasses, mask and suit makes a heart sign

Helping the Helpers

A Message from our Therapist Mandi for First Responders, Medical Professionals and Front-Line Workers: 

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted our society and community greatly. The stress for first responders is intense; there are increases in restrictions and more complex risk factors. Many first responders start their shifts feeling concern for their health and safety, for co-workers, families and loved ones. Loved ones feel anxious each time you leave to take care of others and do your job.

Mandi C. Dalicandro-Turk

As a therapist, I enjoy working with first responders. I am compassionate and understanding of your
complex needs and experiences, and create a comfortable, supportive therapeutic environment. Working
through difficult experiences in both your professional and personal life is critical to your overall health and wellness, and guards from the stressors and impact of spillover.

This is difficult to navigate alone. I will listen to your experiences through conversation in a safe and relaxed therapeutic environment, and help you navigate your feelings towards healing, wellness, and experiencing a better quality life .

I have over 7 years experience helping adults, couples, adolescents, first responders, medical professionals, and academics. I feel strongly that human-beings benefit from the experiences of learning, growing, and developing through each stage of life.

My areas of focus are: Anxiety, Depression, Chronic Stress, Relationship Issues, Life Transitions, Self-Esteem and Confidence, Autoimmune Issues, Critical Incidents, PTSD, Trauma, Infidelity, Divorce, Loss of Connection, Break Up Recovery, Developing a Strong Authentic Identity, Parenting, Burnout, Grief and Loss.

As an adjunct professor, I teach courses focusing on psychology, research, human development, leadership, motivation, genetics, and stress. Additionally, I volunteer for a Critical Incident Stress Management Team that assists public safety personnel after the experience of a critical incident. Among my latest projects, I am focusing on research related to clinical levels of stress, vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue. I also create the curriculum for seminars and continuing education. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology summa cum laude and Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Carlow University.

Visit with me me today at eTalkTherapy.com to schedule your first appointment or free consultation. I hope to work with you soon.