Coping with anxiety during Covid quarantine

Coping with Covid anxiety

Finding Meaning and Connection in My Family Tree 

As I’m sure many people have done since the Covid lockdowns began, I find myself down a rabbit hole of binge-watching some TV every now and then. One show in particular that I can lose many hours to is PBS’ “Finding Your Roots.” It’s a show in which celebrities and other notable people are taken on a journey of discovery through their ancestral paths using a combination of public documents, films, photographs, censuses, and DNA testing. It’s a fascinating look at where these people come from, because the celebrities we know and see all the time are the end result. Finding out who came before them and how their actions and their decisions shaped the generations that came after them is a lot of fun.

Some episodes are poignant and feature stories of terrible traumas. Some stories are funny, and my favorite parts are at the end, when host Louis Gates Jr. reveals to his guest a distant cousin who is also a celebrity or another notable figure, discovered through common chromosomal links in their DNA. Every guest in each episode is struck in some way by the fact that those who came before them played a pivotal role – even if it was a small one – in shaping a life that would come after them.

I think it’s natural when watching a show like that is to think about your own family tree. My parents used to have a sign in their kitchen that said something like “My family tree is full of nuts,” and maybe yours is too. Maybe your family tree is full of painful memories and people you wish belonged not only on some other tree, but in a whole other forest somewhere else! Maybe your family tree is filled with beautiful flowers, people who did the best they could and paved new trails or stood up for what was right; or maybe it is a humble tree that, although it doesn’t display any flashy leaf-color changes or produce exotic fruit, still gives plentiful shade just the same.

As we approach the end of the first year since the Covid lockdowns began and as we slowly ease back into a more normal-looking way of life, maybe take some time to write down your thoughts about it all.  (It’s not every day that we get to live through major world events like this one, you know!) Try to write about how you’ve felt about it, and include how you filled your days. What else were your grocery stores out of (besides toilet paper)? What gatherings did you miss? What fears did you have – and were they realized, or did they merely remain fears? Is there any benefit you saw from his time? How have you changed as a person?

Spending some time on these questions can be beneficial for us in the short term, but would also be a wealth of information for those generations who will come after us. How amazing would it be if generations from now, a great-, great-, great-, great-grandson or great-granddaughter learned about the Covid-19 pandemic and read what you had to say about it? How awesome would it be for them to sit back in a chair in amazement that they were related to you? I’m sure they would be amazed, because we’re living in quite amazing times. And you are very much an amazing person, well worth knowing about.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

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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.

How to deal with loved ones who don't take covid-19 seriously

What to do when a loved one won’t take Covid-19 seriously?

Article by Don Laird, NCC, LPC, DCC

You’re doing everything you can to protect your family during the COVID-19 pandemic: staying at home, wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands until they are raw. You’ve done more virtual playdates, online classes, and work meetings than you can count, and your immediate family has more colorful cloth masks than underwear. You understand it’s not fake, it’s not the flu, the numbers are real, and the long-term health consequences are still not understood. You know people who have been infected or who have died. In short, you’re mindful, and you follow the science.

Yet even with all the preparation and precaution taking, you still find yourself worrying. Because with all the evidence and the skyrocketing numbers, there are those family members and friends you know who refuse to social distance and wear a mask. Will they get sick, perhaps die? Will they get someone else close to me sick? How can I convince them to stay safe? In short, you may not be able to do anything as they feel their opinion, fed by misinformation, is fact. You may have already lost friends and things are chilly with family members. You’re not alone.

Worry and anxiety leads to catastrophizing. The conclusion is usually a worst-case scenario, and it is typically based on those things we have no control over. Instead, try focusing on the present moment and those things you do have control over. Breaking your day down into two or three-hour increments can be helpful. Overthinking your plans or setting unrealistic goals will create inner-chaos and you will be disappointed or upset with the results.

Finding a way to engage your loved ones in a mindful and calm fashion can be tricky.

When it comes time to talk about COVID-19 and your concern about their lack of concern, try referencing information from resources your loved one is more likely to trust. This may be difficult if much of their news comes from unreliable sources that have fed much of the misinformation that we now know to be dangerous.

Is there a TV or radio personality they like who has given sound advice for mask wearing or social distancing? For instance, your loved one may have a dislike for the news media, but they like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Arnold Schwarzenegger (both of whom have conservative views). Each of these individuals has advocated for social distancing and mask wearing. Are their articles available from resources your family member follows? While you may not agree with the political leanings, it may be a resource you need to reference. When possible, talk with each other and not at each other. Be curious about their perspective but be confident and firm with your perspective.

While you may be feeling frustrated or angry with your loved one, lecturing them won’t do any good. Remember to speak with kindness, care, and empathy. Show them that you care. If they do not reciprocate, there is not much you can do but be patient. Remember, you only have control over what you have control over.

Additionally, instead of focusing on their health and safety, encourage them to think about others. Wearing a mask and social distancing will help prevent the virus from spreading to someone who has a pre-existing condition and is more vulnerable to serious illness. As we know, COVID-19 can sometimes cause no symptoms, someone can easily spread the virus without knowing it.

Try to think of someone your loved one knows who may be at risk. Explain that the simple action of wearing a mask can help keep a diabetic relative, a pregnant friend, or a neighbor who has been diagnosed with cancer safe.

Even with all these approaches, you may not be able to convince someone to wear a mask or practice physical distancing. If this is the case, it’s okay to move on. Ultimately, they are responsible for their own health and actions. BUT you will need to draw a firm boundary that you will not be seeing them in person for a while. It may mean taking other steps for childcare, etc. However, it is far better to be alive than to roll the dice because your loved one has opted not to follow safe practices. It may even be best for your emotional wellness to break off communication for a little while. When you are ready to resume communication, try suggesting that you stay connected via phone or video chat. Schedule a call where you agree not to discuss COVID-19.

When it’s time to move on, you’ll probably find yourself feeling worried about the future. Learning how to navigate uncertainty can be tough, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Talking with one of eTalkTherapy’s caring and experienced professionals can help you learn how to cope with your fears and anxieties about the future. We offer private and affordable therapy sessions via video or phone in the comfort of your home. Contact us today for details.

In good health,
Don

two women on a bus wearing face masks looking at their phones

Love in the Time of Covid-19

Well, that came out of left field, didn’t it? For most people, I mean. You may have felt the tremors, but I’ll be honest with you: I certainly wasn’t expecting it. But that’s how life-changing (really, truly life-altering) things go, really: they’re sudden, even when you know they’re coming. There’s always a before, and then an after. Right now, I suppose we’re experiencing the during. But there will be an end, and then will come the befores and afters.

This cosmic blend of same and different – I’ll give you an example: I observed my neighbor getting into the car and backing out of her driveway. Same. She stopped the car to stretch blue medical gloves over her hands. Different. Here’s another: my kids learn during the day. Same. At home now, with me, rather than at school. Different. A hundred million little transitions that we need to make, and are making, sometimes without even thinking of them.

One of my mother’s favorite things to do while she was still alive was make us watch all of her favorite movies. Some were great fun (“The Birdcage”) and some were considerably less fun (“Spartacus”). The all-time great was (and I actually agreed with her) “The Sound of Music.” And now that I’m a mom, I get to make my kids watch my favorites, too. So, with great effort, I removed my much-screen-refreshed phone and settled in with them for three hours of merriment, humor, telegrams, and a wonderful puppet show. The VonTrapps, they too dealt with the same and the different. They too dealt with evil, and fear, and heartbreak against all of that beautiful mountain scenery. 

Humanity experiences suffering. Same. Humanity experiences COVID-19. Different. It is okay to feel every emotion you feel about it. It’s okay to cry when Fraulein Maria marries Captain VonTrapp, even if you’ve seen it fifty times. It’s okay to wonder what happens to Max at the end of the Austrian folk festival, because you know Herr Zeller wasn’t going to let that go. And it’s okay to be afraid when you’re fumbling around in the darkness, stumbling blindly toward the first light you see.

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As part of their new educational experience, my kids watch one episode of “Our Planet” on Netflix per day. The episode on forests was particularly striking, because it shows the resiliency of our wonderful, absolutely amazing planet. There is a segment on a forest fire, and only a few months after hundreds of miles of forestland was absolutely devastated from fire, the floor was blushing again with green, with vines, with life.

As we go through our own, very particular fire of fear and uncertainty, don’t look down only in sorrow, and in regret, and in fear. Look down to see the life that is growing just below, underneath. Invisible, but certain.

Same.

Until next time, be well!
Christy

 

Hand hygiene. Person in the bathroom is cleaning and washing hands with soap

Anxiety, Stress, Social Distancing, & Healthy Control

By Mandi C. Dalicandro-Turk MSPC, NCC

Anxiety, frustration, change, and uncertainty are a realistic and at times, a stressful part of life that humans grapple with. Currently, society as a whole is in a pandemic with many feeling highly anxious, fearful, and uncertain of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the long-term impact on society, the economy, loved ones, and the outcomes of overall health and wellness. It’s natural to have fear and anxiety of the unknown; to feel your healthy controls are being taxed and possibly becoming depleted.

During this time of uncertainty in the weeks to follow, there are ways to feel reasonably prepared while decreasing stress, anxiety, and worry.

Consider the following:

Grappling with Anxiety & Stress

For those experiencing anxiety, that have anxiety disorders, and/or a predisposition to stress, the fear and worry about the health and wellness of you and your loved ones, the economy, finances, having essential medications and supplies over the next few weeks or longer can feel overwhelming for some. Others are frustrated with feeling society is over preparing. Most are hoping for a level of preparedness and a positive outcome without mass hysteria.

During times of chaos and confusion, many seek out information from the news, social media, and other sources. It’s important to stay informed, it’s also vital to find good information based on statistics, data, and facts. Choosing how much to engage in information and when to disengage (put your phone down) assists with lowering feelings of uncertainty, of being out of control, and catastrophizing what is happening in the world around you. It’s normal to feel a sense of uneasiness, vulnerability, anger, confusion, and cognitive dissonance about the future.

It can be stressful for families and for parents to know how to talk with children about what’s happening. Being open, honest, and factual is important on an age appropriate level.  In addition, it’s important to balance your own fears during conversations and to do your best to monitor your own anxiety, anger, and stress to keep from instilling an unnecessary foundation of anxiety in children to potentially grapple with. It’s an opportunity to open a dialogue for critical thinking about individual feelings, values, the meaning of exploring those feelings moving forward, and how a person can learn and grow from what is happening.

It’s natural to feel the physiological and psychological impact of anxiety, it’s a protective mechanism; the fight or flight response in humans and animals. However, it’s what you do with the anxiety and stress you’re experiencing. Check in with yourself on how intense your feelings are, how long symptoms are lasting, and how your daily life is impacted. Implementing realistic expectations, allowing for flexibility, tapping into positive coping, tolerating frustration, and adapting for what is within your healthy controls day to day can help with lowering symptoms and the long-term impact. It’s beneficial to spend time in the present moments, practice gratitude, and enjoy yourself as much as realistically possible.

Social Distancing

Social distancing puts individuals at risk for social isolation; especially when depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues are present.  It’s important to have awareness of the differences between social distancing and social isolation by checking in with yourself on how you’re feeling day to day. Consider what activities you’re engaging in or not doing at all. This is a good opportunity to carve out time to rebuild a relationship with yourself, reflect on what’s important, watch the sunrise or sunset, and connect with family and friends via phone, social media, or through email. Getting back to basics can feel healing and reaffirming; especially when focusing on significant and already established relationships. Make family time fun by keeping it simple. Hopefully, this is a time for children, adolescents, and adults to take a break from the high stress and pressures of a few daily responsibilities and obligations.

With that being said, if you’re in a stressful situation at home whether it’s due to a strained relationship with your partner or feeling overwhelmed by stress and responsibilities, take time away to rebalance. Consider listening to music, going for a walk or run, spend time with your furry friends, laugh and enjoy yourself, and do your best to focus on who and what you do have in the present moment, which includes your relationship with yourself. Check out online options in your community for working out, yoga, supports, and keeping up with physical and mental health. Focus on your strengths, tap into your supports, and treat yourself with compassion.

Healthy Controls

It’s beneficial to be present and work within what is in your healthy controls. Healthy control is different than attempting to control uncontrollable factors and attempting to control those around you in unhealthy and damaging ways. Healthy control is an internal sense of strength, presence, and balance. It’s trusting yourself and valuing where you are, what you’re feeling, and what is best in moving forward. Therefore, it’s making decisions that work well for you and your loved ones in ethical and healthy manners. Putting life in perspective, having a level of preparedness, and moving forward from there realistically.

Allowing some time to decompress and enjoying time with those in your shared environment as much as possible is within the realm of healthy control.  Check in with yourself and your loved ones; if your mental health or your loved one’s mental health is suffering and/or you or a loved one is struggling, feeling overwhelmed, and need to talk, reach out for support. Therapy where you’re meeting face-to-face online through a HIPAA secure site from the comfort of your own home is a safe, healthy, confidential, and convenient way to work with a therapist and to begin the healing process.

In conclusion, find ways you can feel content, ways you can help yourself feel balanced, and reasonably safe without adding undue stress, anxiety, and social isolation. Do your best to plan in realistic areas and to take one day at a time when planning isn’t possible. Consider where your information is from, look for statistics and data to assist with keeping anxiety and the stress of the unknown as low as possible.  There are many opportunities for self-reflection, growth, connecting with loved ones, and to engage in healthy and beneficial ways. Seek out the support of an online therapist if you’re feeling overwhelmed; even in the midst of a pandemic you can get the help you need. It’s important to treat yourself well, with compassion, and to check in on how you’re feeling.

Keep first responders, medical professionals, and individuals at increased risk for direct exposure in your thoughts, and individuals with higher risk for complications too. It’s important to come together as a community in safe and healthy ways to increase feelings of belonging and to decrease anxiety, stress, fear, and social isolation.

Stay safe, healthy, and well!

Learn, grow, & enjoy,
Mandi

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MandiTurk[1]Mandi Dalicandro-Turk writes about a variety of topics related to mental health, behavioral health, relationships, stress, anxiety, aging, grieving, self-care, therapy, and improving one’s overall quality of life.