Category: <span>Self Care</span>

A Milestone in Grief and Loss

Covid 19 has reached new milestones not just in mass casualties, but in consequential losses as we grapple with epic rates of change.  From grieving the loss of a loved one, or tangible losses like graduations, friendships within classrooms,  being furloughed from work, the ability to go anywhere as we continue to shelter in place, or even a loss of safety in the context of recent community issues. Grief is a response to loss to which a bond or affection was formed. Simply put, grief is love. A love that exists across multiple dimensions including spiritual, philosophical, and social dimensions. It’s an experience we will all have just because we exist. 

Grief brings with it many different emotions like sadness, guilt, disbelief, confusion, shock and anger. The emotions have often been described as a rollercoaster and can quickly leave its mark emotionally and physically, whether or not you realize it. Unfortunately, loss and change have always been a part of our history and always will be, but we have learned some fundamental ways to deal with it. 

Here are some tips to help you embrace your grief and loss:

  1. Take your time. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel as though you’re taking too long to process your loss or that you have to get over it and “move on”. There is no time frame on how you experience grief.  Some people may grieve for weeks and months, while others may describe their grief lasting for years. With all the emotions that you experience, acknowledge and feel it as much as you may want to hide from it or make it go away. We can’t get around the  pain, but can work our way through it and begin to create new  meaning and experiences that work around your loss. 
  2. Give yourself credit. Don’t beat yourself up for the way you feel about the loss. Acknowledge your growth as you progress through your healing process. Allow this to happen naturally. (For example, if you cried all day for two days straight and on the 3rd day you only cried twice, acknowledge that and try to look for other signs that there is life outside of sadness).
  3. Get out and get active. Be sure to do something physical even if it is just going for a walk outside. Grief and you can coexist together. Remember to take time to care for your body, mind and soul. Physical movement will help with those difficult feelings. 
  4. The language of grief. Grief wants to be heard, validated and supported. It needs to pour out.  Talk about your unique losses with loved ones, a friend or maybe even seek out a support group or community events like a grief circle. Pour it on to the pages of a journal or through music or art. While grief is an inevitable part of life, navigating it can be challenging and it’s ok to ask for help if you get stuck.  A therapist can help you find a way to pick up the pieces and move through this process if you are struggling to find your way. For some, its easier to be fully open with a non judgmental stranger. 

The 5 stages of grief, according to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Although these are the common stages, there is no guarantee that you experience them all or in any order. For the most part, most of us will go through a loss and never need a therapist, but it is also ok to seek professional support to assist you in coping if you are having a hard time on your own and the grief seems more persistent with feelings of hopelessness, despair, trouble with daily tasks and difficulty feeling pleasure or joy.  

Additional resources: 

Reminders when coping with grief: https://omh.ny.gov/omhweb/covid-19-resources/coping-with-grief-reminders.pdf

For families dealing with the loss of a child: www.copefoundation.org

To find a GriefShare support group or event near you: https://www.griefshare.org/

Connect with Suffolk/Nassau NABSW for upcoming grief circles: on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nassausuffolkabsw

For the loss and hurt related to social injustice embrace healing habits through the 21 day challenge: https://www.eddiemoorejr.com/21daychallenge

 

Kensho Psychotherapy Services is here to offer you support and help through your difficult time. For more information visit our site:  http://www.amandafludd.com.

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

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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