Category: <span>Anxiety</span>

Not My Circus: How To Support Remote Work Parents

Leading your remote work(ing parent) team

 

Supporting Remote Working Parents

It appears our conversation will not be changing for quite some time. COVID-19 will forever be in our vocabularies. For working parents it put a full stop on stability as the school year frantically ended forcing major adjustments to accommodate work and our remote families. Just as we settled into that rhythm, summer came to a screeching halt and it’s time to get back to school across the country and every region seems to have a different plan. Parents are now back to the circus, forcing them to flex their juggling skills while putting strain on the ring master, work.

One thing that is universal for all parents working remotely is that balance is the key to success. In speaking with several parents, their collective concern is the impact of this sudden change in structure on their children, and what it means for their emotional and academic well-being. They also expressed concern with their own job stability, stress levels and productivity. For their kids, they are grappling with missing their friends, lost attention from teachers in the classroom, organized sports, yearly milestones like prom, social learning opportunities, widening education gaps and a reason to get out of their pajamas in the morning.

While there are no easy answers to the side effects to this pandemic, here is how to support your child and family while working from home:

  1. Check in with your child regularly. Ask them how they are doing and what they are struggling with when it comes to staying home or returning to school.
  2. Filter media exposure, especially for young children. Have discussions about key issues at age appropriate levels.
  3. Maintain social connections even while social distancing. Children are the most resilient when embedded in a network of social supports: a relative, a caring parent figure, teacher, etc.
  4. Seize the opportunity and make an effort to eat lunch or dinner together often as a family.

    Given some basic support and protection, our children have remarkable strength and hardiness.
  5. Get out and get active. You or your child may be struggling with anxiety and stress, which can affect memory, attention, and mood. Movement naturally helps us regulate our mood.
  6. Let’s face it, school was an escape for all of us. Make sure that everyone has the necessary time to disconnect and have alone time.  For stressed parents caring for children and trying to work: Put on your own oxygen mask first. Your self-care is essential. Being intentional with your own needs is vital to you, your children and your work.

How can employers support parents that have to work remotely  while still maintaining their work responsibilities?

We all struggle with work life balance, and just like children need frequent communication, flexibility and support, so do remote work parents! During this pandemic it is important that employers show extra care and patience for their very human employees as they try to navigate the right balance for themselves. For front line managers and administrators this may look like:

  1. Frequent check in’s and providing employees a safe space to offer feedback. This is key for leaders to get a clear understanding of what employees actually need and to demonstrate a culture of empathy and concern.
  2. Allowing employees to schedule around their children’s school schedule  (or offering  remote  work  options  and  flexible  schedules  for  the  entire  team).
  3. Being lenient with children walking across the screen or yelling to mom or dad for help during that 11am critical meeting.
  4. Acknowledging the tremendous strain of being present for work and your child.
  5. Implementing mental wellness opportunities and resources onsite or virtually to support the resilience of your remote team. Worker bees with tools to manage stress and overwhelm are more likely to exhibit resilience in the workplace and hit productivity goals.
  6. That said, modify your expectations.

The latest assumption that was communicated by Dr. Fauci is that we will not have a good handle on this pandemic until the end of 2021, so in other words, we are in this for a while.  Now is the time for all of us to show a lot more patience and understanding because this impacts all of us. We all have key roles and responsibilities in the well-being of our greatest assets.

 

Free Resources for Kids + Adults

Check out the following free resources to support your school and work efforts at home.

Khan Academy: Free resources for parents, families, and educators including daily schedule templates for different ages and grades.

Cosmic Kids Yoga: Fun videos on mindfulness, yoga, and relaxation for kids

Free Wi-Fi with Comcast: Struggling to access school or work remotely? Comcast announced it will offer free wi-fi hotspots around the country, plus other accommodations and discounts for low-income families. Check out their service page for more information.

Need tips from teachers at home? Parents can get insight straight from the professionals with curated resources such as webinars on remote instruction and practical advice.

Free Live & Online – Daily Meditation & Support Groups from Mindful Leader: Thirty-minute sessions held Monday through Friday from March 23 to May 1, including 15 minutes of silent meditation and 15 minutes of reflection and discussion.

Anxiety and stress: If its impacting your sleep and ability to focus and complete tasks, check out our psychotherapy services. 

For more information on how to promote work and life balance, reduce stress and support the mental well being of your team, connect with us.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture, ambitious mindsets and mental health. Her programs focus on trauma, depression and anxiety, both on the couch and in the workplace.

Mental Health Problems Don’t Affect Me

Right about now, it affects everyone. Mental health has always been a taboo subject particularly in minority communities, until now. A lack of understanding by families, friends, and individuals, alongside a fear of being associated with the stigma of mental illness have created roadblocks to mental health. Words like disturbed, sad, broken, crazy or lazy come into the mix, but all of the above is FALSE! Mental health is all about the wellbeing of the brain, and since we all own one, it’s an issue for all of us.

The health of our minds is associated with things like genetics (depression and the impact of trauma runs in families), environmental stressors (like a pandemic or witnessing injustice), social (role ambiguity, poor relationships), or cultural factors (norms, beliefs). The behaviors or responses associated with mental illness can’t be ignored, and isn’t any one person’s fault. However, unless we are proactive in addressing the evident mental health needs associated with the pandemic and recent events, there will be enormous long-term consequences for everyone. 

Similar to any other health condition, it is important that we take care of our mental health, and do our part to protect it.  You would be surprised at how simple it is to get grounded, recharge, and reclaim your mental health. Read more

Revamping Self Care. The Pandemic Edition

Pandemic Coping Skills

 

If you weren’t exercising your self-worth before this apocalyptic level crisis by balancing daily demands with our natural need to say “no”, “rest” and “recharge”, well for sure, the time has come to indulge and nurture what you’ve neglected. Don’t presume that one takes a back seat while navigating the new demands of remote work, google classroom or a looming recession. Regardless of your evolving role, pausing to engage in self-care may be one of the key tools to protect your energy so we can survive and thrive through this pandemic.

Let’s call out this thing for what it is, insane! It’s a profound loss of control that has shown up in every aspect of our lives and that is exactly what trauma is. Adding on to this ordeal is the physical and mental strain on our health. This shows up differently for everyone depending on several factors like emotional support, ability to self-care and skills to cope. It may look like irritability, restlessness, constant worry, a decrease in productivity, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, loneliness, increased flashbacks, self-doubt, depression and more.

Why self-care? We all need to take time out to decompress and let some of the steam off. This lessens the impact of stress and worry that is building in the background.

Raise your hand if you aren’t stressed and worried. . .crickets.

Pausing means taking time to nurture your needs and for some, some untreated emotional wounds.

How to get started– Take a minute (actually get out a piece of paper and a timer and set it for one minute) and jot down all the things you love to do or maybe wanted to do but just didn’t have the time to do. Now push yourself a little bit further for the next five minutes and think deeper about what you really need to nurture right now. Now take a look at your loves list and consider what you can add to further nurture your needs. For example, going to church is one way I recharge but I don’t have access to this form of reconnecting right now, at least not in the same way. Nevertheless, I can listen to a YouTube worship service or dynamic inspirational song at my desk while at work daily. I can add devotionals to my nurture list or learning a bible based affirmation. My strength comes from the Lord.

Once you have your list ready, the next part just requires regular and consistent action on your part. Take a few things from your list, especially the ones you can do now considering the circumstances and build it into your daily schedule. That’s it.

Your Pandemic Edition Plan might look like this:

  1. Pausing daily to check in with what you need emotionally, physically and spiritually. Notice it and nurture it. Maybe incorporate some meditation or mindfulness practices. Check out the calm.com app, Headspace or Stop Breathe Think. A colleague and I are also hosting a Virtual Wellness Summit on 4.25.20 to help you pause, reconnect and recharge. You should come, it’s free. Register on Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/34OuTOT. Or consider other similar events.
  2. Figure out your daily routine to incorporate the items you love and to make sure you are creating things to look forward to during your day. Without goal directed action it’s easier to lose track of time and procrastinate as days blend together. Read, write, take a drawing class or enroll in a free course at Yale (yup, that’s happening).
  3. Take time to connect: Call, text, or even write to a loved one or a friend to not just see how they are doing, but to chat about live, practice being social, and maybe as a byproduct find inspiration to you. Of course its ok to set limits on this. If you just don’t feel like talking, that’s ok. Another great option is joining some online groups with friends or finding events like the one mentioned above through Eventbrite or maybe even link up with a charitable group to be of service to others and foster a sense of connection while supporting your community.
  1. Move your body. Your body is craving to be noticed and to move. There is freedom and healing in our bodies, especially when we connect it to silence or the rhythm of our ancestors. Try a free yoga application like Down Dogg in the App store or free online workouts being offered by YMCA. You can also join in on the IG DJ Battles and dance it off, or maybe even join your kids for a “Just Dance” session in the Livingroom. 
  2. Get outside. Walk, run or just sit outside and get some fresh air and sun. Kick off your shoes and feel the earth beneath you- we call this type of grounding “earthing”. As you ground yourself use that time to think about a few reasons to be grateful.

Continue to ground yourself in the one thing that you have control over: Simple acts of self-care and nourishment of one’s mind. Taking it in step by step each day. I am grateful for you, proud of you for doing the best you can, and wish you endless days of self-love, care, compassion, phenomenal health and healing.

Author: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R  4.24.2020

The Silent Pandemic

We are resilient people. Our minds, however, were not designed to handle this level of direct exposure to trauma. From our medical and mental health workers with first hand visuals of the brutally of Covid-19, to the rest of society inundated with daily updates meant to inform us, yet simultaneously engaging us in the narrative of secondary trauma.  By bearing witness to the magnitude of loss and uncertainty, we become living fatalities of trauma.

There is no way we can ingest over 6,500 people losing their lives in New York City, all the while still adapting to the consequences of this illness- from loss of income, to adjusting to life at home, to a virtual way of existing, and claim to be ok. Without question, we are not ok.

The secret toll of this pandemic is the one that’s brewing in our minds with each passing day that we shelter in place, or go out to work as an essential worker.  The depth of what that means I had a chance to discuss with several professionals in the field and they all agree we are all in response mode, but slowly unraveling.  However, here is what to look for and what to do.

The signs of traumatic stress:

  • Changes in sleep including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Increased irritability and arguments
  • Fear you can’t shake
  • Physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches, or tightness in the chest or arm that last a few days
  • Decreased motivation
  • Increased anxiety and worry

 

According to Charles Darwin it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change. To increase your resiliency these experts suggested:

  • Pause and check in with yourself. What is your body saying to you?  What do you need right now? Nurture that.
  • Maintain a routine to keep your mind and body active and stimulated.
  • Acknowledge when you don’t feel your best, or when it’s hard or that you are just overwhelmed. The truth is, this is all out of our control and you are not alone in how you feel.
  • Do whatever action you can to foster a sense of empowerment. What can you control? What can you do?
  • Disconnect from social media and even from your family or friends. Create a sacred space to de-stress and inforce boundaries where needed.
  • Know its ok to cry and take the pressure off.
  • Build pause and self-care in every day.

An important resource is also any option to talk about your experiences and get some support. Therapy is a wonderful resources and if you need help finding a therapist reach out to us at 347-868-7813.  The Office of Mental Health also offer a free and confidential support line: 1844-863-9314. Now is a great time to boost your mental health and you don’t have to do that alone with fantastic telehealth options available. For more great insights and tips catch the full episode at www.facebook.com/therapyisdope or watch it here.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

 

Brilliant Ways To Manage High Functioning Anxiety

by: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

Anxiety affects over 40 million people worldwide, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It is one of the top 3 reasons people come into therapy. When you think about anxiety you usually correlate it with easily flustered, nervous, scared, and constricted because of impossible thoughts about uncertain outcomes. All of the above is true, but most recently we’ve seen an increase in successful clients at Kensho Psychotherapy, who can achieve high levels of success because of their anxiety, but still find themselves unhappy, anxious, and overwhelmed. High-functioning anxiety is the term used to describe folks who are ambitious, high achievers, and also anxious. Didn’t know that was a thing did you? Well, it is. You would be surprised to know that anxiety for them is constant and unpleasant, even though their accomplishments make it seem like everything is extraordinary. They however, secretly can’t enjoy their success, and are constantly at war with themselves and relentless expectations.

So how do you know if this is you? It may look like this:

• To-do lists for the to-do list
• Always expecting the worst in terms of your performance despite prior success (those are conveniently forgotten)
• A high demand for excellence that may show up as perfectionism
• Mental and physical exhaustion
• Constant overthinking or worry
• Jam-packed schedule due to an inability to say “no”
• The Workaholic – staying late to do just one more thing and not hesitating to take work home
• Never satisfied with gains and already thinking about what’s next
• Procrastination galore
• A clandestine fear of failure

 

Are you thinking, “Yes that is me?.” Often those who suffer from high functioning anxiety may ask themselves, “How did I get here?”. It can evolve from genetics, brain chemistry, or in response to personal life events (like a deep fear of failing and becoming like your parents, or underlying feelings of shame or guilt related to a trauma, so you work hard, ALL THE TIME) and is often an automatic process that is out your control.

Regardless of the reason, it’s not your fault! You may not have total control over the chemical make-up of your brain, and you certainly didn’t choose your life circumstances, but now it’s up TO YOU to figure it out.

 

This is where brilliance comes in to restore balance:

1. Get grounded. Clear your mind and recharge your energy by practicing techniques such as deep breathing and focusing on the present. When you are fully present, or have the mental dexterity to bring yourself back using your breath, it reduces anxiety. Think of it as training your mind to come back to center or back “home.”

Let’s practice:
Follow Your Breath

Dim the lights or close your eyes, and as you inhale (big breath in), trace the air as it enters your nose or mouth and goes into your lungs, and as you exhale (release), follow the air leaving your lungs and exiting your nose or mouth. Repeat for a few breaths.

This grounding technique gets more effective with practice. The key is to pay attention to your breathing, notice if your mind wanders, and if it does, say “that’s ok” and gently bring it back to the breath. Let your body lead and your mind will follow. Set a timer and try it for 2-3 minutes and build your practice from there.

Pause and Regroup

2. Evaluate your lifestyle – Gain the upper hand by treating your body like the queen or king that it is. Commit to going to bed an hour earlier every day this week to get more sleep (ok, pick one night to start), get in at least one healthy meal (go light on the carbs), and embrace some form of exercise. These slight changes are rejuvenating and helps you better tackle the mental mind field of anxiety.

Repeating to yourself “you got this” or another mantra while doing deep breathing exercises may be effective to reduce the experience of anxiety.

3. Utilize mantras – a positive personal statement that counters those unhelp automatic thoughts like “I’m never going to be successful” or “I messed up”. It can work wonders on one’s self-esteem, confidence, and even create a calming effect for you and your frazzled nerves. Try one like: “I am ____” and fill in the blank with what you need, like capable or strong. You can also try one of acknowledgment and reassurance, like “I am scared and I’m going to do this anyway”. There are even apps for this, so get connected and be consistent with your practice.

4. Practice saying “no” – often those with high-functioning anxiety overextend themselves by saying yes to every invitation thrown their way. Do yourself a favor and say “no thanks” every once in a while. You don’t even need to explain yourself or feel bad about it because having a healthy mind and choosing you first is reason enough.

5. Ask for help – You may be thinking, “I don’t want to burden anyone with my problems.” Many who struggle with these issues suffer in silence. Keep in mind that while deep breathing and affirmations go a long way, at some point you have to tackle the core issues you are probably avoiding. This is where therapy is dope and can help anxiety sufferers understand their love hate relationship with anxiety, unpack core beliefs, and teach how to break up with anxiety and enjoy your success. You deserve that.

 

Kensho Psychotherapy Services is located in Valley Stream, NY and specializes in Anxiety, Depression, and Trauma. Amanda Fludd LCSW-R is the Executive Director.

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