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.

Young sick woman in blanket with thermometer

Anxiety in the Age of COVID19

As human beings, we do not do very well with the unknown. Uncertainty and an undetermined future can create a level of constant worry that is often disproportionate and, at times, unmanageable. Anxiety manifests around that which we cannot control. What compounds this feeling is a sense that what is out of control should not be. When things feel uncertain, we don’t feel safe. However, it is okay to feel stressed or anxious, particularly when there is conflicting information around us.

Currently, most of us are worried about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We may experience feelings ranging from helplessness to fear about what will happen in the weeks and months ahead. Again, it’s okay to feel this way. It may not feel good, but trying to push it away or act as if it doesn’t exist is the unhealthiest thing you can do.

In short, your mental health will likely suffer over the next several months.  You might feel on edge, nervous, angry, frustrated, helpless or sad. You might want to completely avoid any reminders of what is happening. “Normal” daily activities will alter drastically, and for those who already struggle with depression or anxiety the next few months will be quite challenging.

Remind yourself that you are in control to how you respond to any event (and anxiety thrives when you feel as though you have no choice). Yet, you are stronger than you may believe. Below are three basic things that can help you with your mental hygiene.

  1. You are not alone in this pandemic. Control what you can. Wash your hands. Remind others to do the same. Continue to exercise. Limit your exposure to the news. It’s healthy to update yourself once or twice a day, but over-consumption will have a negative effect. Checking your news feed every few minutes or every hour is not helping you stay informed, but it is helping you develop an unhealthy fixation. Also, limiting screen time is good practice regardless of the reason or situation.
  1. Social distancing does not mean hiding under a rock. Avoid crowds and close contact, but get outside. Exercise helps with both physical and mental health. Being in the sun and fresh air helps restore emotional balance and gives a boost to natural vitamin D levels. Stay grounded by being mindful to the world around you. Do this by noticing what your senses are telling you through sight, sound, taste, and touch. This will help you stay present and avoid projecting into an uncertain future. Remember, choice and change only occurs in the here-and-now.
  1. If you are feeling overwhelmed or need support, please talk to those you trust most. It’s okay to feel afraid or angry – it’s what you do with those feelings that matters. If needed, reach out for extra support or help. You don’t have to be alone, professional help is always available online with a therapist or counselor.

DUE TO THE FINANCIAL IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19), eTALKTHERAPY IS NOW OFFERING LOWER PER SESSION RATES BASED ON YOUR FINANCIAL NEED.  Contact us today for further pricing details.

Be safe, be healthy, be well,
Don

 

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Six Ways to Beat the Summer-time Blues

by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

Summertime blues? Seriously? The answer is yes, and it’s more common than you might think. The kids are out of school and they have two questions on their minds, “Can we go to the pool now?” and “What can I eat next?” Your lawn has taken on a creepy “I will be overgrown regardless of your efforts” attitude. Your neighbors or co-workers ask “Is it hot enough for you?” or “Rainy enough for you?” at least twice a day.  And if you hear one more person tell you about their family’s vacation plans, you will personally run over their iPhone with your lawn mower (should it decide to start today).

The heat and humidity are oppressive, the air conditioner is working overtime to make sure your electric bill surpasses the national debt, and your “bored” kids are home for 90 consecutive days. Then, the days you finally manage to make plans are now rained out. In short, you’re miserable.

Ian A. Cook, MD, the director of the Depression Research Program at UCLA discusses five causes of summer depression in an article published by WebMD:

1. Summertime SAD.

You’ve probably heard about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which affects about 4% to 6% of the U.S. population. SAD typically causes depression as the days get shorter and colder. But about 10% of people with SAD get it in the reverse — the onset of summer triggers their depression symptoms. Cook notes that some studies have found that in countries near the equator – like India – summer SAD is more common than winter SAD.

2. Disrupted schedules in summer.

If you’ve experienced depression before, you probably know that having a reliable routine is beneficial for keeping symptoms in check. But during the summer, routine goes out the window — and that disruption can be stressful, Cook says. If you have children in school, you’re suddenly faced with the prospect of keeping them occupied all day, every day. If your kids are in college, you may suddenly find them — and all their boxes of stuff — back in the house after a nine-month absence. Vacations can disrupt your work, sleep, and eating habits — all of which can all contribute to summer depression.

3. Body image issues.

As the temperature climbs and the layers of clothing fall away, a lot of people feel terribly self-conscious about their bodies, says Cook. Feeling embarrassed in shorts or a bathing suit can make life awkward, not to mention hot. Since so many summertime gatherings revolve around beaches and pools, some people start avoiding social situations out of embarrassment.

4. Financial worries.

Summers can be expensive. There’s the vacation, of course. And if you’re a working parent, you may have to fork over a lot of money to daycare, summer camps or babysitters to keep your kids occupied while you’re on the job. The expenses can add to a feeling of summer depression.

5. The heat.

Lots of people relish the sweltering heat. They love baking on a beach all day. But for the people who don’t, summer heat can become truly oppressive. You may start spending every weekend hiding out in your air-conditioned bedroom, watching pay-per-view until your eyes ache. You may begin to skip your usual before-dinner walks because of the humidity. You may rely on unhealthy takeout because it’s just too stifling to cook. Any of these things can contribute to summer depression.

So, just what can you do about the summertime blues?

1. Get on a schedule.

A month or so before school year ends, get out your calendar and start marking it up. The kids will go to this camp during this week. I will be able to work from 8 to 3 on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays. I will swim in the morning on these days. You get the point.

2. Plan something fun.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. Plan something enjoyable every few weeks to keep motivated and moving forward. Something that can give you an ounce of joy can also carry you through many hot summer afternoons.

3. Sleep.

It’s important to maintain a steady sleep schedule in the summer. That is, even though the day’s events are changing from week to week, make sure to keep your sleep schedule the same: go to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every morning, and don’t sleep much less than 7 hours and no more than 9 hours a night. When depressed, it’s common to want to sleep as much as you can, to kill the hours. However, extra sleep does increase symptoms related to depression.

4. Exercise.

During the summer months it’s easy to abandon any exercise program that you’ve been disciplined enough to start since the oppressive heat can be dangerous, if not terribly unappealing. So before the heat sets in, design a plan you can stick with that won’t make you literally stick to everything else. I will run early in the morning during the summer, before the humidity sets in, and I will try to swim more often.

5. Be around people.

As tempting as it is to isolate in the cool comfort of central AC during the summer, forcing yourself outside to be around people — even if you don’t join the discussion — is going to assist your mood and especially the ruminations that get your into trouble. If you don’t want to leave your air-conditioned home, at least make yourself call one person on a daily basis — a sibling, friend, or co-worker — to stay connected to the world.

6. Stay Hydrated

This seems like a no-brainer, but dehydration occurs more often than you think. Avoid caffeinated sodas, coffee, teas, and sugary sports drinks. H20 is the way to go. It boosts your immune system by flushing out toxins and promotes balance in your body’s natural chemistry.

In good health,
Don

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Digging in the Dirt

by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

Why gardening? It is a question I have been thinking about as the days begin to grow longer and summer is quickly approaching. Amid all the thoughts roving the terra nova of my consciousness, the act of gardening – excuse the pun, has taken root. By no coincidence, I began to reflect on gardening while standing in line at my local home improvement store, that vast warehouse of do-it-yourself paraphernalia that includes an overabundance of trappings designed for the weekend and professional landscaper.

On the surface, the subject of gardening appears fairly innocuous, but dig a bit further and what is uncovered is a rich topography of metaphor and meaning that spreads deep and wide. Arguably, the pragmatic reasons for why people garden are to eat and to improve the curb appeal of their homes. If you survive on the vegetation from your garden or fancy an attractive lawn, it is easy to understand these primary motives. However, why the obsession? Our agrarian way of life ended around the same time industry began seeing dollar signs in the valleys and rivers that shape this region, and we never looked back. Sort of.

According to Christianity, humanity started in a garden. Buddhists create gardens to allow nature to fuse with their surroundings. The Babylonian’s imagined a “garden of the gods.” Almost every major palace and government building has a garden. So why all the attention to something we can only do a few months out of the year based on our temperate climate zone?

I believe one of the reasons people love gardens and the act of gardening is that while we have a desire to progress and develop in a contemporary milieu there is, deep within us, a primordial requisite for human beings to join with nature. In short, we are driven to make something, to grow something, apart from ourselves. Hence, the garden, a small path for nature to reenter our existence becomes that something. Being in nature connects us with our earliest evolutionary development.

Gardens remind us that we still care, and that we are capable of nurturing and cultivating the earth in a peaceful fashion. The garden stands in contrast to our collective, destructive patterns of behavior. Ancient philosophers viewed gardens as a means of self-actualization and enlightenment. Thus, gardening nourishes a natural need within us to create order, structure and beauty. The garden becomes the conduit between the self and the natural world.

From a practical standpoint, gardening is definitely a healthy habit that promotes physical exercise, helps the environment, and improves our diet. So go – get your garden on – weekend warrior. What you may view as a hobby has a history that serves to improve the current state of our individual and collective well-being.

In good health,
Don

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Good Therapy is Just a Click Away

Why Choose eTalkTherapy?

When problems arise people turn to their laptops, tablets or smartphones for information and guidance. The Internet has created a space where assistance is readily available, changing the way people obtain knowledge, connect with others, and seek professional help.

Now more than ever, we are facing serious challenges in our daily lives. We long for purpose and meaning while all too often resorting to negative thinking and destructive behaviors to answer life’s questions and challenges. We often feel stuck, lost, isolated and disconnected from ourselves and others.  Are you experiencing an issue with one or more of the following:

  • Anxiety or Constant Worry
  • Sadness or Low Mood
  • Depression
  • Grief and Loss
  • Adjusting to College Life
  • Empty Nest
  • Low Self-Esteem or Poor Confidence
  • Life Transitions
  • Job Burnout
  • Loss of Meaning
  • Relationship or Marital Problems
  • Overwhelming Stress
  • Postpartum Depression

In these cases, eTalkTherapy may be a helpful and meaningful alternative to a traditional office visit as it creates a level of anonymity that gives you the freedom and ability to address tough issues that might otherwise leave you feeling uncomfortable, anxious, vulnerable or disconnected in an office setting.

Not seeing what you need? Still unsure if we can help? Contact us today, we’d love to talk.

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Why Choose eTalkTherapy for Live Video-Chat Counseling?

In most cases, eTalkTherapy may be a helpful and meaningful alternative to a traditional office visit as it creates a level of anonymity that gives you the freedom and ability to address tough issues that might otherwise leave you feeling uncomfortable, vulnerable or disconnected in an office setting.

How Does eTalkTherapy Work?

Through online (live, secure video chat) counseling, we create a plan together and set out in an effort to gain better self awareness and engagement with others. eTalkTherapy is about living life on your terms, problem solving, and creating a life worth living. Ultimately, our goal is to help you by examining your personal history, embracing your present strengths and struggles, and accepting the anxiety of an uncertain future.

Above all, we want to help you find value and meaning in your life.

Can I Afford eTalkTherapy?

How much would you give to live a happier, peaceful, and more productive life? For most people, the answer is “whatever it takes.” However, we understand that almost all of us have financial limitations. eTalkTherapy is quite affordable, and fits easily into most budgets. If you want to change your life for the better, the cost of eTalkTherapy is a very small price to pay. Our fees start at $40.00. It’s that simple. There are no deductibles, no co-pays, and no surprises. We believe therapy should be affordable as well as accessible. LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PRICES HERE.

What are the Benefits to eTalkTherapy?

  • Convenience and Affordability.

eTalkTherapy is affordable and convenient. Since you will be attending sessions online in the comfort of your own home, dorm room or office, you can schedule your therapy sessions for times that are the most convenient for you and your busy schedule.

  • eTalkTherapy Makes Counseling Accessible.

eTalkTherapy offers easy access for college students, stay-at-home parents, business travelers, new parents, those living in rural or remote areas, as well as those living with anxiety, depression or physical illnesses or limitations. It can be an important tool to help you learn more about your psychological health. Even if you feel like your mental well-being is strong, online counseling can help you become psychologically stronger. You can learn more about your behaviors and coping strategies that will lead to better psychological health.

Is eTalkTherapy Effective?

Distance communication between a therapist and a client is not a new concept. Even Sigmund Freud used written correspondence extensively to communicate with his clients. Counseling of any kind, including online counseling, does have certain limitations, but evidence now suggests that online therapy and counseling may have the same level of effectiveness as a traditional office visit. In a study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry, clients receiving mental health treatment through video conferencing reported “high levels of satisfaction.” Online counseling is not for everyone, but it is a viable option, and should be taken into consideration as you choose your path to wellness.

Find solutions, rediscover meaning, and create a life worth living. Spend a few minutes with us, and we think you will agree that eTalkTherapy may benefit your life starting today.

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What is Co-Parenting?

by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC, DCC

As a therapist I am often asked questions about parenting and parenting styles. Amid the shifting core of contemporary family structures co-parenting has become an exceedingly topical subject. Co-parenting, sometimes referred to as shared parenting, is the practice of raising children as a single parent when divorce or separation occurs. This can be a difficult process for parents and children, but it is not an impossible task and, in fact, may have its own rewards. Below are some brief tips that will help when it comes to co-parenting. Although everyone will find his/her situation somewhat different, there are basic generalities when it comes to shared parenting.

  1. RESPECT each other like mature adults. Do not talk negatively, or allow other adults to talk negatively, about the other parent, their family and friends or their home in hearing range of the child.
  2. Your child is not a spy. DO NOT question the children about the other parent or the activities of the other parent regarding their personal lives.
  3. DO NOT make promises to the children to try and win them over at the cost of the other parent. Trips and elaborate gifts should not be used as weapons against the other parent.
  4. COMMUNICATION. Communication. Communication. Communicate with the other parent and make similar rules in reference to discipline, bedtime routines, sleeping arrangements, and other schedules.
  5. It’s not about you. At all times, the decision made by you and your Ex should be for the child’s psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being and safety.
  6. DO NOT ask the child where they want to live. Additionally, visitation arrangements should be made and confirmed beforehand between the parents without involving the child in order to avoid any false hopes, disappointments or resentments toward the other parent.
  7. ALWAYS notify the other parent in a timely fashion of the need to deviate from the order, including cancelling visits, rescheduling appointments, and promptness.
  8. Both parents should WORK TOGETHER to allow the child to be involved in extracurricular activities and both parents should make every attempt to attend these activities together.
  9. INFORM the other parent of any change to scholastic, medical, extracurricular activities or appointments for the child.
  10. Keep the other parent well informed of your address and telephone number and your whereabouts.

Co-parenting means doing the right thing for your children. Always be ready to compromise and communicate with respect and civility.

If you are experiencing difficulty with co-parenting or are having a conflict in your relationship due to divorce or separation, please feel free to contact us to schedule a confidential appointment.

In good health,
Don