Categories
Uncategorized

A Gratitude Exercise For the Holiday

Shepherds, Angels and Wisemen; a gratitude exercise for the holiday


The holidays, regardless of which one or how you celebrate, are typically bursting with nostalgic looks back at memories from days past. While this can be beautiful and warming to the spirit. It can also be a way to enamor ourselves with things more distant and leave us forgetting appreciate the good things we have had most recently. In a year like this one, an actual exercise or practice of gratitude may be more needed than ever.

Because the nativity holds a special place for me in reflection this time of year, I like to use subjects from it. You can rename the three subject titles however best fits your family’s traditions,  beliefs or practices.

And yes, this can be adapted for use with kids as well. It can be a great way to share a practice of acknowledging what we have and hold dear in life. And adults can be an example by participating and sharing about ourselves as well. Might make a nice new family tradition?

So, here we go.

First, get some paper or use your journal. Yes, keep it ‘old school’ and hand write this. (it matters in several ways – including brain/memory). Find a quiet and comfortable place where you can sit with your thoughts and put them to paper without much distraction.

Shepherds;

These are people from your same walk of life, your neighborhood, old friends, coworkers – people who come from familiar territory; even if they have different roles, tasks. They are diligent, reliable and fierce defenders of your goodness. And, they support you and honor the ‘real’ you in some manner.

Write down the names of 3 people who have been shepherds to you in the past year and a few examples for each of them of how you have benefited from their presence in your life; how you have felt their support, love and camaraderie.

Angels;

These are people whose presence in your life has come to a conclusion this past year or a significant change. It could be a relationship that ended, it could be the result of a change of residence or career, or even someone who has passed away. The presence of them has added to your life, your learning, your appreciation or in some other way. Big or small, they have impacted your life and you will remember them.

Write down the names of 3 people who have been angels to you in the past year and few examples for each of how you have benefited from their presence in your life and why that matters to you. (Try to focus on ones from the past year. It’s sometimes easier to jump to larger losses of the past – try to refrain from this and focus on exits from this past year).

Wisemen (and Wisewomen);

These are the people who are very different from you. They may hold different careers, have different lives, perhaps have different faith traditions and cultures. Their lives are very different from yours and yet they have served as a guide to you; knowingly or unknowingly. They have gifted you a very different perspective. They do not challenge or dismiss you, but their presence has brought something new and unexpected into your way of living life. They may inspire, invite or share – but in all their action, they honor who you truly are.

Write down the names of 3 people who have been wisemen/wisewomen to you in the past year and a few examples of what their presence in your life has brought you; what you have learned, how you have changed or grown.

Finally, to bring this exercise into full resonance, share your answers for this year with someone else – talk about it. Elaborate on your responses and talk about the gratitude you hold for all of these people and your experiences. Put into words, aloud, how you are a better person for it. How your life has been added to by having them in it.

To really stretch – you can also opt to contact those people whom you can from your answers and let them know that you appreciate them being in your life and some of the ways who they have been to you in the past year has been impactful.

At bare minimum, when you complete the written exercise (not typed – handwritten), put it down for a while and come back to it a few hours later. When you do, read it out loud – not just the answers, but “One of my shepherd this year was _____ because she/he __________, _________ and __________. I am grateful for them and my life has grown in ways such as ______________________ and __________________.” (or something similar).

Don’t forget you can change the titles ‘shepherd’, ‘angel’ and ‘wisemen’ to whatever subject titles best fit your spiritual beliefs and practices.

Handwriting, reading and hearing are all different paths into memory. Discussion with someone else adds layers to this as well. Gratitude must be practice for the brain to learn to seek it out. The more we visit gratitude in our thoughts, the more readily and frequently we are to recognize the other things to be grateful for. Things that have always and will always come through life – if we only see and acknowledge them.

Peace, health, happiness and prosperity to you and your loved ones this holiday and in the year to come.

Pace’ Tutti –
Ben

 

Categories
Uncategorized

Embracing Change: How to Adapt Traditions in a Pandemic Holiday Season

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to change so many things about the way we live this year. Now, with the holidays fast approaching, it’s very likely that some of your favorite traditions will have to change and shift, too. So, the task becomes how to adapt traditions in the pandemic holiday season before us.

There are many new orders and guidelines in place with cases surging in different states across the country. Most of them reflect the idea that large get-togethers shouldn’t happen and that you should continue to distance yourself from others, not in your household.

Needless to say, you’re probably going to have to adapt traditions this year. That can be hard to deal with, especially if you’re already feeling sad, lonely, or even anxious. It can feel like you’re losing something special.

But, when you know how to adapt traditions effectively, you can still make the most of them and enjoy your holidays during these uncertain times. Let’s look at a few creative ways you can make changes.

Stay Connected

The holidays will always be about connecting with the people you love. This year, you may not be able to do that in person.

However, technology has made it easier than ever to stay connected. Schedule a video chat with your friends or family during the holidays. Make an “event” out of it and start a Zoom call with multiple people. Maybe you all can eat dinner together over the call or have a “cookie swap” where everyone shares their favorite recipe.

Even calling the people you love can make a big difference in how you feel. It can strengthen your bond in a time of loneliness, and that’s helpful to everyone. It may not be your usual tradition, but it’s the next best thing.

 

Keep Your Favorite Traditions

Just because your family may not be around this year doesn’t mean you need to give up every tradition. Think about the ones that put you in the holiday spirit. What are some of your favorite traditions?

How can you adapt those traditions this year to still make them a part of your holidays?

You could try making one of your favorite family holiday recipes, or opening a gift the night before Christmas, etc. One way to adapt traditions is simply to make them smaller, with the people in your household. They don’t need to go away completely.

Start New Traditions

You might think that starting new traditions isn’t exactly “adapting,” but it allows you to be flexible in light of the situation.

By taking your favorite things about the season and turning them into new traditions, you’ll still have reasons to celebrate. Whether you’re by yourself over the holidays or with your immediate family, having traditions (new or old) will help you feel more grounded. That’s crucial during a time when things seem so uncertain.

Struggling With the Loss of Tradition

It’s only natural to feel a bit down this holiday season. Knowing how to adapt traditions is an excellent place to start, but you might still feel like you’ve lost something. You may even be grieving over that loss — and that’s okay.

Feel free to contact me about counseling for loss if you’re genuinely struggling or consider some other options. One of the best things you can do is to accept that loss, rather than trying to deny it or pretend you’re feeling better than you are. Adapting traditions can help, of course. But, it may not wholly take away your “holiday blues.”

Keep in mind that this era isn’t forever. By adapting traditions now to keep everyone safe, your holiday season next year can be filled with the things you’re used to and the people you love.

Please reach out to me today or visit my page on Counseling for Loss to learn more about how I can help.

Categories
Uncategorized

3 Ways Gratitude Is More Than Merely Feeling Thankful

3 Ways Gratitude Is More Than Merely Feeling Thankful

It’s that time of year where we all start thinking about the things we’re thankful for. Those feelings can (and should) go well beyond the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Even though this year has been so challenging, most of us have plenty to be thankful for, and plenty of ways to show gratitude.

For example, I’ve spent time this year counseling organ transplant patients. These are people who have to undergo major surgeries due to health conditions and other untimely situations. Although they may be fearful or concerned, many of them learn to be grateful for things like modern medicine, skilled doctors, etc.

So, why is gratitude more essential than just “feeling” thankful? Let’s take a closer look.

1. Gratitude Is a Way of Life

Gratitude is an action. You might argue that feeling thankful is, too, but there are some differences. When you are thankful, it doesn’t usually extend beyond a feeling — you’re thankful that something happened.

Gratitude is a response to that thankfulness. It is something you can show. Therefore, it can be seen as a result of thankfulness that can turn into a positive, active way of life. When you show gratitude, especially toward another person, it can often create a ripple effect. That person might feel thankful for your gratitude and continue to pay it forward.

2. Gratitude Comes From Within

When you go to the store, or someone gives you something or does a favor for you, what’s your automatic response? Unfortunately, the phrase “thank you” has become a bit of a surface response for many people. That doesn’t mean you aren’t thankful for those things, but it can often feel impersonal.

Gratitude, on the other hand, feels very personal. It’s what you feel when you’ve had time to reflect on the things you’re thankful for. It also doesn’t require another person to be triggered. For example, you might have gratitude for your job, where you’ve been steadily employed for ten years.

3. Gratitude Lasts Longer

Thankfulness, although necessary, can be fleeting. You might be thankful for someone’s actions as they happen, but you lose that feeling moments later. Because gratitude truly comes from the heart, it can last for years.

Gratitude will affect you profoundly, often more than feeling thankful ever will. You might feel grateful for someone or something, and that feeling will last for years. A sense of gratitude doesn’t go away, and it isn’t fleeting. For example, if you’re grateful for something (or someone), you may not see it (or them) for years, but that feeling will be just as strong the next time you do.

Using the example from above, when talking about transplant patients. Those patients will be forever grateful for the doctors and medical staff that worked on them. They aren’t just thankful for the completed work but grateful for their knowledge, skill, and dedication.

Gratitude often sparks a chain reaction. That doesn’t necessarily make it more important than feeling thankful. However, it does require us to go deeper into our own feelings because gratitude is a matter of the heart, while thankfulness tends to stay on the surface.

So, this holiday season and beyond, consider the things in life that you’re grateful for. What are you going to do about it? What does that gratitude inspire you to do and change? Maybe even try a gratitude meditation before jumping into your annual traditions?

If you want to know more about how gratitude and thankfulness impact the way you feel, please contact me. Together, we can talk more about the importance of gratitude and how it can actually change the way you think, feel and act while shifting your perspective on things.

If you’re interested in talking about your current work/life situation and what you are wanting to move towards or change, reach out anytime.

Categories
Uncategorized

How Loved Ones Can Celebrate “Long-Term Care Awareness” Month

Long-term Care Awareness Month takes place every November. It’s a way to bring attention to the 70% of men and women over the age of 65 that will need some type of long-term care.

Now, more than ever, recognizing this month is vital. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, long-term care has looked different this year. People have been kept from their loved ones. Isolation has increased, and worries about the mental health effects of the virus are on the rise.

So, what can you do to celebrate Long-Term Care Awareness Month, and how can you pay more attention to the people you know who might be receiving this kind of care?

Sharing the Awareness

One of the easiest ways to celebrate the month is to share information about it as often as possible. By using the hashtag #LongtermCareAwarenessMonth on social media, you’ll grab the attention of your followers. You can then provide essential and educational information that can bring some of the factors of long-term care to light.

Those factors might include how many people need long-term care and the reasons why. They should also include how long-term care can be incredibly costly and that insurance doesn’t always cover the cost of everything people need.

That is one of the biggest reasons why this month started in the first place. Because there is such a need for long-term care in this country, many people believe there should be financial assistance for those who can’t afford such care.

Making a Plan for Yourself

Another way you can celebrate Long-Term Care Awareness Month is by making yourself more aware.

That might sound strange at first, but have you ever thought about what might happen if you need some care in the future?

Will you be able to afford it? Will you have to leave your home or stay with a family member?

No matter how old you are, it’s never a bad time to make a plan for yourself and your future. Doing so now will help you to feel more financially and emotionally-prepared, no matter what happens. Talk to your family about your plan and make sure they’re on board with what you plan to do if the need arises.

Preparing yourself is a great way to lessen the burden for yourself and those around you in the future. Everyone will know what you want and expect, and there will be no confusion when it comes to meeting your needs.

Talking to Your Loved Ones

With the holidays quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to discuss long-term care options with anyone in your family who might be needing it in the future. It’s not easy to talk about, but it can be necessary to avoid issues down the road.

Talking about long-term care with your loved ones is crucial if someone has an underlying condition or has been diagnosed with an illness. In these cases, something like counseling for cancer patients and their loved ones can be beneficial. Getting to the root of your feelings and emotions is an excellent place to start before you jump into the discussion about long-term care.

So, don’t be afraid to bring awareness to the people in long-term care, the heroes that work in that industry, and the expense that it can bring to families all over the country. The more attention this topic gets, the more positive changes can happen in the future.

If you want to learn more about long-term care or how to cope with a loved one who might need it, feel free to contact me for more information or visit my page about Counseling for Cancer Patients and Their Loved Ones.

Categories
Uncategorized

What Are “Bath Salts” and How Do They Impact You?

Although they sound innocent enough, “bath salts” should never be confused with Epsom salts or products designed to make your bathing experience more relaxing.

If not innocent, however, what are they?  They are a type of recreational synthetic drug. Their name comes from the fact that they were often disguised as actual salts used for bathing and creating a more spa-like experience.

But, bath salts can be extremely dangerous. Synthetic and designer drugs can cause a variety of severe side effects, and bath salts are no different.

Whether you are unfamiliar with this designer drug or know someone who might be using them, it’s crucial to understand its impact on the mind and body.

What Are Bath Salts Doing to the Mind?

The reason people typically use bath salts is to feel a sense of euphoria. The designer drug can affect the brain similarly to cocaine, but it is at least ten times more powerful. It can also be taken in a variety of ways, including swallowing, snorting, or smoking.

One of the most significant mental impacts they have is an insatiable desire for the drug. It is incredibly addictive. Those who are addicted will often go to extreme lengths to get it.

Some of the more severe effects they can have on your brain include:

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Nightmares
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
  • Agitation

Additionally, the euphoric state people are looking for when taking the drug can quickly fade into a state of paranoia. Some people can even hallucinate while on bath salts. Several years ago, when the designer drug became popular, there were multiple news stories about extreme hallucinations from people who had taken them.

That state of paranoia can lead to psychosis and periods of violent behavior. Under the influence of bath salts, people may not realize what they’re doing.

What Are Bath Salts Doing to the Body?

Bath salts impact more than just the mind. They can have severe adverse effects on the body as well, including:

  • High fever and sweating
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Chest pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Skin rash

Truthfully, the list of physical side effects goes on and on. Unfortunately, the long-term effects of the drug can be even worse. Bath salts can cause kidney damage and liver failure, swelling of the brain, and even death.

Even “experienced drug users” often find themselves at odds with this synthetic invention because it is so potent and so different from any other type of recreational drug on the market.

But what are bath salts, really?  The short answer: pure poison. Every single time they’re used, the individual taking them is putting their very lives at risk.

 

An Addiction Like No Other

Despite bath salts being so popular and common (especially with younger adults), there are still so many people who don’t know how serious they are.

Some studies have suggested that they are even more addictive and damaging than crystal meth. People who use these drugs often end up in the emergency room, and the long-term effects can cause permanent damage.

If you know someone who is experimenting with or has a full-on addiction to bath salts, there is no time to waste. This drug is a compound that can put someone in extreme danger every single time upon use. Because they are so highly addictive, the addict will start to take them more frequently to get their fix.

Feel free to contact me or visit my page about synthetic and designer drugs to learn more about this recreational drug’s impact. I’m here to help you do what you can for yourself or someone you care about that might be in need.

Categories
Uncategorized

Emotional Wellness vs. Emotional Intelligence: What’s the Difference?

October is National Emotional Wellness Month. It also happens to be Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month. The two might seem to go hand-in-hand. Yet, it’s essential to understand the differences between them and how they can impact your life.

The main difference is the very definition of each quality. Emotional wellness refers to your ability to recognize your own emotions and the emotions of others.

Emotional intelligence refers to identifying and managing your emotions and the emotions of others. It also focuses on your ability to think your feelings through and problem-solve how to deal with them

In all fairness, both do sound similar. What are the differences, and why are they important?

Understanding Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness is sometimes used in a religious or spiritual sense. While there is nothing wrong with that approach, those “circles” aren’t the only platforms for boosting your overall wellness.

Emotional wellness can equate to emotional awareness. When you are aware of your emotions, you can learn to process them more fully. This type of wellness is often linked to the practice of mindfulness or being completely aware of the present moment.

When you attuned to your feelings, you can let go of things that may have been dragging you down from the past. You can let go of your worries about the future. Being emotionally well allows you to recognize your emotions for what they are. You can do that without hanging onto any negativity.

Being emotionally well doesn’t mean you experience happiness all the time. But, it can certainly leave you with a sense of contentment. When you’re emotionally well, you’re more self-aware. So, you will have a better understanding of why you feel the way you do. That can help you to get to the bottom of negative emotions faster, to work through them.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is often talked about in a professional setting. It refers to your ability to identify your own emotions, as well as the feelings of others.

Unlike emotional wellness, emotional intelligence requires three things:

  • Emotional awareness
  • The ability to harness and use your emotions to problem solve
  • Regulating your emotions and helping others

Someone who is emotionally intelligent is exceptionally aware of what they are feeling at any given time, whether positive or negative. They also tend to pick up on how others are feeling.

No matter how subtle the emotion, someone with high emotional intelligence can feel it and figure out how to work through it. People who are highly emotionally intelligent tend to have careers in leadership positions. They know how to interact with others, even though they might be more prone to high-stress jobs.

For example, law enforcement and stress often go together, but police officers usually need high emotional intelligence to work with people who might be struggling.

What Are the Differences?

The critical difference between these two measurements is that one tends to focus more on your overall wellbeing, while the other allows you to take your emotions and use critical thinking to work through them.

Both are skills that you can improve. If you are trying to boost your emotional wellness, you will try things like reducing your stress, seeking balance in your life, and focusing on positivity.

Honing in on your emotional intelligence might require you to improve your listening skills, responding instead of reacting, and using more assertiveness when you communicate.

There is no reason you can’t be emotionally well and emotionally intelligent. They are both measures to work toward and can help you find balance with your feelings.

If you are curious about the difference between the two or want to know more, please contact me for more information. Or visit my page about Law Enforcement and Stress to learn more about how I can help those in high-stress environments.

Categories
Uncategorized

Will Remote Learning Impact Children? Understanding YOLO

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools nationwide have opted for remote learning this year — at least for the fall semester. Understanding YOLO and how this “new normal” might impact their children and teens has become a priority for parents. After all, most children and teens face a new way of doing things with its positives and negatives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and teenagers are susceptible to stress during these uncertain times. It’s no surprise that they may not know how to handle it. Fear of the pandemic, changes at home, and now learning changes can all contribute to stress and anxiety.

How will remote learning honestly impact children and teenagers?

Understanding YOLO

Most teens know the acronym “YOLO, representing the idea that “You Only Live Once.” Unfortunately, during a pandemic, it’s easy to feel life itself has hit the pause button — and understanding YOLO seems vital to parents right now.

For teenagers, this pandemic has robbed them of many things, from their everyday social lives to significant events (i.e., graduations, proms, sports, etc.). So, while you only live once, teens miss out on some of these substantial rights of passage that they won’t get to do-over.

As of April 2020, when many schools had just suspended in-person learning, about four in ten teens claimed that they were experiencing loneliness due to the pandemic and having to learn remotely. As of July 2020, three in ten parents said the pandemic’s impact was causing their children emotional and mental harm.

While younger children may not feel as though they’re missing out on as much, they also have to get used to being away from their friends during these formative years. They are missing the chance to build close relationships and friendships that can last for a lifetime.

Are There Any Positives?

Remote learning isn’t anything new. Thousands of children and teens across the country homeschooled or did eLearning long before the pandemic struck, mostly because this option has several advantages.

One of the biggest pros of online learning is that kids don’t have to worry about peer pressure, bullying, or feeling “out of place” in their surroundings. Because bullying has become a hot topic in recent years, many parents prefer their children to learn at home.

Negative peer pressure and efforts for kids and teens to fit in can create major behavioral issues and even lead to school problems. Parents who keep their kids home to learn can monitor such things.

Will There Be Any Long-Term Impacts?

It’s too soon to tell what the long-term impacts of COVID-19 will be on kids’ and teens’ mental health. With some data already coming in, it’s safe to say that anxiety and even depression will be prevalent for years to come.

Everyone is currently trying to deal with a “new normal.” Even kids who have gone back to school in person face new rules and safety guidelines, such as wearing masks all day.

Children and teenagers need interaction with others. Like everyone else, they are social beings and need to feel supported by friends, teachers, etc. It’s hard to tell just how much the loss of normalcy will impact them in years to come — but understanding YOLO is an excellent place to start extending empathy towards your children.

If you’re worried about how your child or teenager might be handling the transition to remote learning, feel free to contact me. Or visit my Children and Grief page to learn more about how I can help.

It’s essential to keep in mind the things they are missing out on and the stress they are under to keep moving forward while the rest of the world seems to be at a standstill.

Categories
Uncategorized

Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Fuel a Wave of Addiction?

Will the COVID-19 pandemic fuel a wave of addiction? The 2020 pandemic is still a significant problem throughout the globe — especially here in the U.S. In addition to the physical issues associated with the virus, more research surfaces about the pandemic’s lasting mental health effects.

Unfortunately, many predict that mental health professionals won’t keep up with the number of people who need help with depression and anxiety due to this pandemic.

That means more people will undoubtedly turn to other coping mechanisms. As a result, we will likely see a wave of addiction in the coming months and even years.

Since February 2020, doctors and ER units nationwide have already seen an explosion in alcohol-related issues. Sales of alcohol have also consistently gone up throughout the pandemic.

Knowing this, how do we approach this wave of addiction?

The Mental Health Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has caused plenty of more issues than merely physical illnesses. People who once dealt with addiction are at a greater risk of relapsing. Those who feel as though they don’t have anywhere else to turn may look at alcohol or harder drugs like opioids for the first time.

What aspects of the pandemic are contributing to these mental health issues?

The biggest one, undoubtedly, is loneliness. Even if you consider yourself to be an introverted person, people are social, by nature. Feeling completely isolated and disconnected from others can make you feel alone, without any support. Studies show the negative impact of loneliness lasts for years. It can even impact your physical health.

Of course, it’s impossible to ignore the uncertainties of this entire pandemic. People have lost jobs, children run risks going to school, and even though places have started re-opening, many states still have mask mandates.

There is still so much anxiety surrounding COVID-19, and it only builds up with the upcoming (and volatile) presidential election. Feelings of anxiety combined with feelings of loneliness, are often a recipe for disaster.

How People Cope on Their Own

Because depression and anxiety are so prevalent, there are a variety of ways to deal with them. Some people take medication; others seek therapy. Sadly, far too many people find harmful ways of coping, including drug and alcohol use.

Pseudo Comfort

Since January of this year, for example, Texas has seen a massive rise in both alcohol and guns/ammo sales — which is a horrible combination. But, people are looking for ways to numb whatever worries they may be feeling. That goes far beyond alcohol into harder drugs. When you learn more about opiate addiction and the brain, you find that it can lead to euphoria feelings. Who wouldn’t be looking for that right now?

Unfortunately, the effects of drugs and alcohol don’t last, so people need more and more to get by.

Substance Abuse

Will the COVID-19 pandemic fuel a wave of addiction? Absolutely. But, there is hope for those feeling anxiety from the effects of this pandemic.

If you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, or overwhelmed, you are certainly not alone. Still, you also don’t need to turn to a substance that will only compound the issues.

Even if you can only reach out to someone digitally, do whatever it takes to make connections and find your support system. The times are still uncertain. Together we will see it through, and you don’t have to depend on substances to feel better about the state of the world.

Feel free to contact me if you’re struggling to get through this pandemic or visit my page on opiate addiction and the brainto learn more about how I can help. Together, we can work on more effective ways to work through your anxiety so you can manage your symptoms daily.

Categories
Uncategorized

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts People with OCD

How does the pandemic affect people with OCD?

Now that we have been living through the COVID-19 pandemic for several months, specific areas of concern are starting to shift. Naturally, there is an ongoing concern for everyone’s physical health and safety — especially those at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

But, research suggests already that there is a significant risk for long-term mental health issues in the wake of COVID-19.

There are expected spikes in people with anxiety, depression, and fear over the coming months and years. Some experts have even expressed concern that the mental health community will not be able to keep up with all that society needs.

For people who already have conditions, however, COVID-19 can take an even higher toll. For example, people with OCD may have a harder time dealing with this pandemic than others. Let’s explore this concept.

What Are the Challenges for People With OCD?

People with OCD tend to have difficulties with discomfort. Well, nothing has been more uncomfortable than the uncertainty of this pandemic. COVID-19 is not just an irrational fear. It is a real virus that has swept over the world. Unfortunately, no matter where you stand politically, it’s clear that the U.S. hasn’t done the best job to keep it under control.

So, the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic can cross over into struggles those with OCD already have.

When most people think about OCD, the first thing that comes to mind is an obsession with cleanliness. If you have the disorder, you know that isn’t the whole story. Yet, it’s a big part of it for many people. The idea of worldwide contamination makes it easy to trigger common OCD symptoms.

There are several things related to this pandemic that can serve as triggers for people with OCD, including:

  • Being told to wash hands frequently
  • Staying six (or more) feet apart
  • Excessively searching for information about the virus
  • Emergency/panic shopping

Even now, as most states are starting to open up with restrictions, the idea of being in lockdown or staying away from people can make symptoms worse for those already struggling with OCD.

What Can You Do to Manage Your Symptoms?

What can you do to manage your OCD during this time of uncertainty? First, give yourself some slack. This pandemic is anything but an everyday occurrence. Most people are trying to get through it in their own way. If you notice your symptoms getting worse, take a deep breath, and give yourself a bit of a break.

If those symptoms are getting out of control, there are a few things you can do to manage them effectively.

Make a Plan

One of the best things you can do is to create a reasonable safety plan. That might include only washing your hands before you eat when you come in from the outside, or after you’ve been in a public place (instead of cleaning them obsessively throughout the day). Other coping mechanisms could include:

  • Limiting your time watching the news or looking at social media
  • Practicing self-care as much as possible
  • Talking to a therapist and leaning on your support system

Seek Professional Help

Talking to a mental health professional can make a big difference in how you feel. Things like counseling for loss can help you to come to terms with the things you might have had to give up because of this pandemic, whether you’ve lost your job, you know someone who passed away, or you’ve just had to deal with the loss of your everyday routine.

Therapy can also help you to learn healthy management skills to keep your symptoms at bay.

This pandemic won’t last forever. For people with OCD, it can feel more overwhelming than it does for others. If you’re struggling to manage your OCD, please contact me or visit my page about counseling for loss to learn more about how I can help.

Categories
Uncategorized

Pandemic Drinking: How to Tell If It’s Too Much

There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health. This can be seen in part in the increase in “pandemic drinking” across much of the nation. Simply put, long periods of social isolation aren’t good for anyone. While they have been necessary to keep people safe and healthy, the effects of this pandemic will continue to create mental and physical health issues worldwide.

As a result, people will look for different ways to cope. If pandemic drinking has become a norm for you, you might want to start considering that it’s your coping mechanism.

But, when is pandemic drinking too much? If you’re “stuck” at home, what’s the harm in having a drink or two? Keep in mind; there is a difference between drinking casually and using alcohol to numb your depression or anxiety.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at pandemic drinking and how to tell if it’s become a problem.

You’re Drinking More Than Intended

Again, there’s nothing wrong with having a drink or two in the comfort of your own home. If that is your initial intention, and you continue to drink, it could be a sign of something more serious.

Maybe you have even noticed that you’re drinking more than you want. Many people who struggle with alcohol know they’re drinking too much and mean to stop. Unfortunately, they feel like they can’t because they’ve become too dependent on daily drinking.

When it comes to pandemic drinking, you might have more than you intend to “forget” about what’s going on. But, that’s not a healthy way to cope with the world’s current uncertainties.

It’s Causing Trouble With Family or Friends

This pandemic has made it difficult to interact with those closest to us. Now that things are slowly starting to reopen, and we adjust to a “new” normal, it should be easier to see how drinking impacts your relationships.

If alcohol is causing trouble in your relationships, and you continue to drink it, you might be struggling with abuse or addiction. You also might find yourself cutting back on things you once thought were important or that you enjoyed.

If you feel like your family or friends are worried about you, you might even start ignoring them or withdrawing from them. None of these behaviors are normal for casual drinking.

You Continue to Drink Even Though It Makes You Feel Bad

One of the significant signs of a drinking problem is drinking, even if you feel the adverse effects. Alcohol can make you feel depressed, anxious, and physically sick. It can also contribute to long-term health conditions that could cause significant issues for years to come. If you don’t feel good after drinking a lot, but you continue to do it anyway, it’s essential to ask yourself why.

Alternatively, suppose you have tried to go more extended periods without drinking, and you feel withdrawal symptoms like insomnia or nausea. In that case, it’s usually a sign that you’re used to having too much alcohol.

Unfortunately, when you become dependent on alcohol, you might find that you need to drink more than you once did. It takes increasingly more to feel the same kind of “buzz” that you did at first. That leads to addictive behaviors, and it could be a dangerous path.

If any of these signs and symptoms sound like what you’re going through, you’re not alone. However, your dependency on alcohol doesn’t have to get worse. You can get your life back on track as this pandemic eventually fades away.

Feel free to contact me for more information or to set up an appointment. Also, please visit my page on alcohol addiction counseling to learn more and the additional resources page to help you get started if you need more information.