Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
Many people will say, “Money isn’t everything.” That’s true in a sense. Life is more about contributing to society, being happy, and living a life worth remembering. The problem is that it’s impossible to live life in 2020 without the money to pay your bills and buy what you need to survive. Low funds can lead to money worries, which can then impact your mental health.
Money Worries Statistics
Even if you’re not precisely “struggling” financially, there’s still a chance that you have money worries. The topic is a huge social problem in America, with a 2019 Gallup Poll showing:
Though these statistics aren’t exactly comforting when it comes to the state of America’s economy, it might be relieving to know that you’re not the only one worrying about money.
How It Impacts Mental Health
Whether you’re worried about putting food on the table, avoiding foreclosure on your home, or keeping the lights on in your apartment, excessive money worries will eventually begin to take a toll on your mental health.
In some cases, you might experience intense anxiety or depression.
The constant money worries might keep you awake at night, unable to sleep, wondering whether you’ll have the funds to fill your gas tank to get to work in the morning. You might be afraid that your credit card will be declined when you go to buy groceries to feed your family.
Other times, you may begin to feel as if you’re in a hole that you’re unable to dig yourself out of, as you don’t have a college degree to get a higher-paying job. You might stop paying your bills entirely, knowing that you’re hardly making a dent in your student loans.
Reducing & Coping With Your Money Worries
The good news is that there are some things that you can do to cope with your money worries successfully. For example, you can:
There’s no quick fix when it comes to money worries. You can’t avoid paying your bills, and your rent has to be paid each month. Since there’s only so much you can do overnight regarding your financial situation, spend more time healing your mental health instead.
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Money worries are widespread, even when the economy seems to be booming. However, when they get severe, money worries can be extremely dangerous to your mental health. The best thing you can do is identify your money worries and then choose an appropriate and healthy coping mechanism. It also helps to educate yourself on financial planning and strategies.
Do you have money worries?
Money is a source of stress for many people. It can be difficult to know how to deal with your money worries. You may feel like you're drowning in debt, or that the bills are piling up and
there's no way out. But it doesn't have to be this way! There are ways to cope with
your financial stresses so they don't take over your life.
The best thing you can do is identify your money worries and then choose an appropriate and healthy coping mechanism. Setting up a budget, talking to a counselor, life coach or financial advisor are all healthy ways to deal with money stress.
Click the box below and let's get started on reducing that stress!
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Mindfulness is a practice that emphasizes awareness of thoughts, feelings, sensations as a means of gaining more insight, increasing attention, improving concentration, and enhancing self-control, among many other benefits. The ultimate idea is that positive changes can be made to influence our attitudes and behaviors for the better via mindfulness producing improvements in these areas.
When it comes to situations and stimuli that can trigger fear and uncertainty, mindfulness can be a powerful tool in one’s arsenal to combat it. There are several specific ways mindfulness can promote mental health during times of fear and uncertainty, ultimately promoting overall wellness too.
Research shows that regularly practicing mindfulness can reduce stress. Since increased stress affects both short-term and long-term exposure to fear, reduction of stress is a valuable benefit. A 2010 study explored this by randomly assigning participants to an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction group and comparing this group against controls on self-reported measures of depression, anxiety, and psychopathology, and on neural reactivity as measured by fMRI after watching sad films.
Researchers concluded that the participants who experienced mindfulness-based stress reduction had significantly less anxiety, depression, and somatic distress than the control group. Thus, this demonstrated that mindfulness meditation increased positive affect and decreased anxiety and negative affect (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
Mindfulness is also known to improve attention over time. This can be hugely beneficial when trying to cope with fear and uncertainty because one can use mindfulness to shift focus away from the source of the anxiety and towards something healthier and more positive. A 2009 study by Moore and Malinowski explored how mindfulness affected participants’ ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information.
In the study, a group of experienced mindfulness meditators was compared with a control group with no meditation experience. The conclusion was that the meditation group had significantly better performance on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were directly related to attentional functioning and cognitive flexibility (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
Less Emotionally Reactive
Often, fear causes panic, poor judgment, and poor reasoning. This can cause people to respond to fear and uncertainty very emotionally without adequately thinking things through.
However, research on mindfulness meditation shows that it decreases emotional reactivity. In a study that looked at people with experience in mindfulness meditation, evidence revealed that mindfulness meditation helped people disengage from emotionally upsetting circumstance. It also allowed them to focus on cognitive tasks better than people who saw the same images but did not practice mindfulness meditation (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
The final conclusion was that the meditation helped participants respond more appropriately emotionally (i.e. calmly) when presented with an image that should have created an adverse emotional reaction like fear or stress.
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Rumination can be defined as deep or considered thought about something. While not necessarily bad, when faced with fear and uncertainty, ruminating on the situation or the issue can lead to mental and emotional distress. However, several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces rumination. In one study by Chamber et. al. in 2008, participants who were new to meditation were asked to participate in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat.
Following the retreat, the meditation group reported significantly higher mindfulness and a decreased negative affect than a control group. They also experienced fewer depressive symptoms and less rumination (Davis & Hayes, 2012).
Ultimately, each of these positive impacts promotes mental health, especially during times of fear and uncertainty. When we are less stressed, less emotionally reactive, have better attention, and spend less time ruminating on fearful situations/stimuli, we are better positioned to make decisions, engage with others, and navigate through life with positivity.
Thus, finding ways to practice mindfulness via meditation and similar practices can prove to be a strong strategy for improving and maintaining mental health during times of fear and uncertainty.
Davis, & Hayes. (2012). What are the benefits of mindfulness? https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner
Are you feeling stressed?
Mindfulness can be achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It's been shown to reduce stress levels and anxiety.
With mindfulness techniques such as meditation, you can learn how to live in the now - without regretting what happened yesterday or worrying about what will happen tomorrow. You'll be able to better cope with life's inevitable difficulties when they arise. And it doesn't cost anything!
All you need is a few minutes to get started.
If you need guidance on how to practice mindfulness and learn all of its benefits,
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Maybe you’re unsure of where your next paycheck is coming from. Perhaps you’re in an at-risk population and know that developing COVID-19 could prove to be fatal. Or there’s a possibility that you’re struggling mentally with the loneliness resulting from social isolation.
The most important thing you can do while living in an uncertain and risky world is prioritizing and caring for your mental health. Let’s talk about six ways that you can do that.
Do things you enjoy
One of the best ways to keep your spirits up during a crisis is to do things that make you genuinely happy. That could mean binge-watching your favorite television sitcom, listening to your favorite songs, or even going for a leisurely drive along a scenic highway. Try to do something you love at least once a day. Then, experiment with new hobbies if you’re feeling adventurous.
Stay away from drugs and alcohol
You may feel bored, lonely, or stressed during the pandemic. That might make you want to turn to drugs and alcohol to either entertain yourself, relax, or escape the negative emotions you’re feeling.
Using substances for any of these reasons and especially at times of great adversity and emotional and mental upset makes you more likely to develop an addiction or an unhealthy coping strategy. For the sake of your mental health, it’s best to avoid drugs and alcohol at this time entirely.
Focus on your physical health
There’s a direct link between your mental health and your physical health, and one does not exist without the other. Therefore, you must prioritize a healthy diet, frequent exercise, and adequate sleep.
Each of these has the potential to improve your mood and reduce your current level of stress. Commit to a workout schedule (perhaps five days a week), eating a balanced diet (add as many colors as possible), and sleeping (try for 7-9 hours).
Find a way to cope
The best way to protect your mental health is by having a healthy coping mechanism to help you work through your emotions. Luckily, this is the perfect time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Be sure to experiment with healthy methods, such as meditation, reading, deep breathing, exercising, or expressing yourself via art. The perfect coping strategy will ease your mind and reduce your stress.
Stick to a routine
At first, having a ton of free time was relieving. But at a certain point, you most likely lost your motivation and desire to stick to a schedule during your day-to-day life. Though a bit of freedom is great, your mental health should stick to some sort of routine schedule, especially during these trying times. Be sure to shower and change your clothes each morning, eat around the exact times each day, and create a work schedule that you can stick to. Consistency is key.
Stay in contact with loved ones
While you’re thankful to be physically healthy during this crisis, your social relationships have been negatively impacted. Not being able to spend time with your family and friends has led you to feel lonely and isolated.
To keep your relationships and improve your mental health, be sure to stay in contact with those most important to you. Schedule video calls with your best friends, and don’t let the physical distance deter your relationships.
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There’s a good chance that this pandemic will take a toll on your mental health in some way. But when your low mood or stress becomes debilitating, you might be better off making an appointment with a therapist or a counselor instead. Try the methods above first and give them time to work but know when to get professional help.
Mental health is a priority for most of us, but it's not always easy to
find the resources to take care of yourself.
That’s where I come in! As a certified counselor and life coach, I can help!
Whether you need someone to talk to or want some tools to help you deal with stress,
I'm here for you.
If you're looking for someone who will be there when things get tough,
then click the box below for free consultation!
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In current times life is full of fear and uncertainty. You may not know when things will get back to normal, whether you’ll get your job back when businesses start opening back up, or if you’ll stay healthy for the remainder of the year.
It can be straightforward to lose hope, but that’s perhaps the most essential thing you can hold onto during this crisis. So, let’s talk about why that is.
The Belief that Things Will Get Better
After so many months in lockdown during this pandemic, it’s easy to believe that things will never get better. You may assume that if things were going to get better, they would’ve by now. By holding onto hope, you can hold onto the belief that things will get better in time.
Think about the worst thing that’s ever happened in your life that you thought you’d never survive. You did stay, and now you know that even the most traumatic events in your life will turn around eventually. Hold onto hope and trust that something better is coming in the future.
Holding onto hope doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t see the world for how it truly is. You’re not turning a blind eye to the problems in today’s society and acting as if they don’t exist…. because you know that they do.
Instead, hope involves recognizing the negatives that are happening but understanding that every situation also comes with positives. Having a positive outlook on every situation can help you to naturally improve your mood and find happiness and joy in even the worst cases.
“Fake It Till You Make It”
If you’re like just about everyone else in America, you’re afraid of what may happen today, a week from now, or even a year from now. This can be draining for the average person in the mental and emotional sense, unsure of what the future holds.
Most people who hold onto hope can implement the idea known as “fake it till you make it.” This is a theory that states that acting as if something is true will eventually make it true. You may remind yourself that you’re happy, that things will get better, and that you’ll survive this.
The Spread of Hope
The great thing about hope is that it tends to be contagious. Just by remaining hopeful around your family members or friends, it might start rubbing off on them. This can help to improve the mood and the outlook of those around you.
On the other hand, helping those around you can also end up helping you in the long run. If you happen to lose hope temporarily, it may just be those you’ve built up that come to bring you back up with them. It’s all about creating a positive support system in your circle.
Not Letting Fear Consume You
Have you ever felt extreme fear about something in your life?
If so, then there’s a chance that you experienced racing thoughts and extreme anxiety wondering what might happen. That’s precisely how many people are feeling in the current environment.
The thing about hope is that it somewhat reverses your fears. So instead of having every single thought in your mind focused on your worries and recent events, you can return your ideas to other things in your life. Less focus on fear can help you to focus on the good stuff.
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Hope is necessary if you want to make it through the current pandemic and state of the world with your mental health intact. To maintain hope and preserve your mental health, it’s a great idea to stay positive, surround yourself with good people, and limit your fears.
You deserve to feel better.
Life coaching is a process of self-discovery that helps you identify your values and goals, create achievable plans for change, and take the necessary steps to make those changes happen. It’s an investment in yourself—in your mental health and well-being.
Let me help you find hope again with life coaching sessions tailored specifically for you! I will work with you one on one or in groups to provide support, encouragement, guidance, and accountability. Together we can get through this difficult time with hope and peace!
Click the box below to schedule a free consultation today!
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Do not touch your face! Wash your hands if you do! Wash your hands if you don't! Don't forget to use hand sanitizer as often as possible! By this point, your nerves are frayed, and your hands chapped from all the handwashing and sanitizing. It has been a lot.
Of course, that's nothing compared to those who have fallen ill, passed away, or 'recovered' with lasting effects. The two are related; we are confident we can prevent the last thing from occurring by doing the first things.
It's undoubtedly an excellent way to mitigate the risk. The kids are at home, with many schools yet to return. A lot of people are working from home or laid off. We aren't meeting our friends and family in person. For a time, we wiped out the grocery shelves, and people were spending an hour in line in hopes of fulfilling their list.
Life has changed in a series of big and small ways due to COVID-19. The only highlight of this is that everyone else is going through it, too. We are all going through this same tumultuous event, and we're all in it together. At least, we should be.
There is nothing funny about a pandemic, but it's essential to stay grounded. As difficult as it seems, it's necessary to accept reality and not catastrophize about what hasn't yet happened. We all cope differently with horrible situations, and we all struggle with our locus of control.
The Acceptance of Reality
There are things you can do to wield control in this situation. Focus on those things to reduce your risk. Firstly, it's essential that you sleep well, eat well, and move often. Those are the basics of life that stand true in standard times and during a pandemic.
It's also essential that you pay attention to social distancing. If you're allowed to have contact with others, then do so, but do it safely. That means wearing a mask, handwashing, and sanitizing often. A skosh of anxiety can be productive if it's causing you to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. If we didn't have a level of reasonable worry, then no one would take the appropriate measures to protect themselves and others.
There is unproductive anxiety, too. Where you allow it to spin out of control by imagining what would happen if you caught it, or your child caught it, or someone you know caught it. It's happened to other people, so it's not ridiculous to imagine that someone close to you could see a highly contagious disease.
You can counteract thoughts like that by focusing on the present. Remind yourself you are safe at home as you cook dinner, snuggle with your partner, play with your kids, or complete your workday.
You can think about it all day, but it won't change anything, and it won't make you feel better.
What began as a tragic story on the news has become a genuine threat to our world? In all likelihood, you know someone who COVID-19. If not, you have touched. By staying grounded, you are not minimizing the pandemic or sticking your head in the sand. You are simply taking the necessary steps to protect your mental health and stay sane. Think of all the efforts you have been taking to protect your physical health.
Now think about what steps you have taken to protect your emotional and mental health? With that in mind, what are you going to do to ensure you stay grounded by accepting the reality of the pandemic while avoiding worrying about things that have not happened?
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If you are finding it difficult to accept everything amidst COVID, reach out for help!
Let me help you get back on track and find peace again. We will work together to create goals for your future, identify what's important to you now, and come up with solutions for how to make those things happen. I am here for you every step of the way so that
no matter what happens next, you'll be ready!
Click the box below and let's get started...
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By Karima Leslie
In times of crisis and transition, we long for our previous normal. We gravitate towards what is familiar, even when what is familiar and "normal" is killing us. We crave fast food and long for the job back that was burning us out and running us into the ground. And none of that is bad. Seeking comfort in familiarity is completely normal. But this season of life is calling us to create a new normal. A better one. When all of this is done, we could have dancing in the streets, we could get to know our neighbors and be active in our community. We could come together, united because of this shared hardship and love like we never have before.
Top 5 tips to Coping through COVID-19
#1: Pay Attention to How You Feel
Pay attention to the warning signs your body & mind may be giving you. Are you finding yourself easily irritated? Overly emotional? Going back to bad habits? Having a hard time concentrating? Experiencing unexplained headaches or body pain?
These are all signs that your mind & body are asking for an intervention.
#2: Dealing with Isolation
When finding yourself in a new environment or working within new parameters, such as lockdowns or self-isolation due to the pandemic, it is important to give yourself a clear sense of purpose. Decide how you want to use this time. Will you be working from home or have time-off? How do you want to schedule your days?
To avoid boredom, discover new activities to enjoy, forgotten hobbies, or pastimes that you had previously gotten too busy for. Learn something new. There is a plethora of free classes on design, marketing, art, languages, music, etc. Learning something new can help you level-up in your current career, bring peace to your spirit, or excitement to your life.
You get to decide what you use this time for and do not feel guilty if what you need during this time is simply to rest. We all require breaks, that is what makes us human.
#3: Take Care of Your Body
It is easy to lie awake worrying about all the things going wrong in the world and in our lives. Choose a time one hour earlier than when you would like to go to bed, say 9pm, to start winding down your day. Find activities that are truly calming and that put your mind at ease (not just a distract you). Turn down the lights, put on some calming music, turn off any screens or devices and do something relaxing before bed.
Try and get your nutrients. This one I know is tough for lots of us since many of us have had to change our budgets as work dynamics shift. Usually common grocery items may also be sold out from time to time. But our mindset has everything to do with our ability to adjust and cope. Take this as an opportunity to cook with new ingredients and learn new recipes.
#4: Take Breaks from the News
The constant barrage of breaking news, especially when it is presented in the most pessimistic light, can cause overwhelm and trigger anxiety. Humans do not have the capacity to absorb everything that is going in the world at all times. Every breaking news story does not equally deserve your attention and there is a line where informing ourselves turns into obsessing over things we cannot control.
It is important that we do our part to be loving, contributing citizens of planet earth. Educate yourself about the facts, the many ways to stay safe and help others, and then take a break from the covid, police brutality, and world disaster news. As a mental health & chronic illness advocate, I may bring up covid from time to time on my platforms, but I do so with a purpose to provide resources, skills, & activities on How to Cope, how to still have fun, how to find peace, be social, laugh, & enjoy life in this new context. I am here to kick fear to the curb and help you deal with this thing.
Check out my page at www.ariseandthrive.ca for more resources on getting motivated, organized, and back on track!
A chronic illness warrior herself, Karima Leslie has battled with debilitating chronic conditions as well as anxiety & depression that came along with them.
Now a champion for mental, spiritual, & emotional health care, Karima Leslie practices as a Spiritual Life & Business Coach providing virtual wellness sessions and business coaching to help women kill overwhelm, boost confidence, & conquer fear. She is currently accepting new clients looking to gain more energy, simplify recovery, find new joy in forgotten passions, and healing for the mind, body, & soul. She is also working on a group program for women entrepreneurs struggling with chronic illness.
Founder of Arise and Thrive Co., check out her services & resources on her:
or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in on a free session and find out your next step to making 2020 a better year!
The world that we are living in today is anything but peaceful and predictable. It seems that every day there is some new tragedy or cause for fear that demands every ounce of our attention.
These incidences come from every direction and in all shapes and sizes. Whether a personal issue arises that completely disrupts your peace of mind but seems only to affect you personally or a global event transpires that uproots the happiness and joy of millions of people simultaneously, our world can be a very uneasy place to exist.
With everything going on around you, maintaining a sense of security and order in your mental environment and personal life can feel like an ultimately futile effort.
Try as you may; there seems to be something that always comes along for no other reason than to fill you with fear and worry. While you can’t change the dynamic nature of the world you live in, there are thoughts and strategies that, when implemented effectively, can help you stay grounded when life gets hectic.
You Cannot Bear The Weight Of The World On Your Shoulders.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to realize and come to terms with the fact that you are a single human being that is tremendously incapable of bearing the weight of the world on your shoulders.
At first glance, this may seem like a sign that you should just give up and let the waves toss you of each new tragedy. However, becoming aware of your limitations can serve as one of the most significant sources of peace you could ever hope to find.
The reason for this is that when you take the time to identify the things that are out of your control, the list of things that you actually can influence becomes much more apparent. Instead of feeling overwhelmed at every single problem going on around you, you can focus your efforts on only the issues you can change.
Not only does this give you a much-needed sense of authority over your circumstances, but it also frees you from the burden of trying to manage the problems of the world by yourself. In the raging war that is our world today, you must pick your battles wisely.
Another common issue that many of us have when it comes to all the things going wrong in the world is that we automatically feel as if these things directly affect our personal lives.
While this may seem insensitive, the truth is that not only are most of the issues we notice daily through the media or online things that have little to no effect on our existence, and they are also far out of our hands. Expending your time and energy to solve the problems that affect your immediate environment is a much better investment than worrying about a conflict or issue on the other side of the globe.
Supporting a worldwide cause for the sake of charity is fantastic, but not if doing so means ignoring the conflicts that are staring you in the face.
Maintain A Sense Of Order
Finally, you must maintain a sense of order in your own life, regardless of how messy and cluttered the things around you become.
If you allow your internal state to mimic your external environment, you fall victim to the chaos. Whatever your day-to-day life entails, always strive to develop systems and routines that provide you with a sense of peace and security. If you are looking for these things in places other than your own life, you will not find them.
We're all just trying to live our lives and make the best of what we have.
But it seems like there's always something in the way, some new tragedy or cause for fear that demands every ounce of our attention. Sometimes it feels like life is one long emergency, with no time to stop and think about how things might be better if we could only take a step back.
That’s where I come in. As your life coach, I will help you find clarity so you can get unstuck from whatever has been holding you back from living a full and happy life. Together we'll work on building skillsets that will allow you to feel more confident in yourself and your abilities - so that when an emergency comes up, instead of feeling overwhelmed by it all, you'll know exactly what to do next.
Click the box right now! Schedule a free consultation with me today!
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Isn't it incredible to think that just a few months ago, we'd never heard the term COVID-19? While coronaviruses have long existed, this coronavirus did not. That didn't stop it from transforming our entire world, though. Life has now changed beyond recognition, professionally and personally. Some people have been on lockdown all on their own, unable to see their loved ones at all.
While others have been working from home surrounded by their family, regardless of your lockdown state of play, you have likely gone to extra effort to connect with the people you can't see.
You may have stocked up on dry goods, hoping to ride it out without leaving the house. Perhaps you felt comfortable taking regular walks while masked. We have all had our paths to walk during COVID-19. Some people will have had a more challenging time.
1. Your Red Flags
As well as knowing the red flags of cognitive and emotional overwhelm, you should get to know your red flags. Think about past stress you have experienced, whether it's been work or relationship-related. What type of event or situation triggers a feeling of overwhelm, and how can you manage that more efficiently? By getting to know yourself better, you will better understand your red flags and handle the load.
2. Know Your Brain
You know how you react when you're in love. You know how your brain responds to stress. You recognize how your brain acts when you're anxious, fearful, excited, etc. Understanding your brain can help you manage your cognitive and emotional load. Your brain on stress will cloud your judgment. The positive chemicals that come with falling in love are as powerful as the stress chemicals that come with emphasis.
You should know yourself well enough to recognize when even the slightest stress creeps in. Know the physical symptoms you experience when stressed outdo your palms grow sweaty, is there an eye twitch, do you itch, do you get a headache, are you experiencing acne breakouts, or are your bowels off-kilter? We all have our signs of stress, but knowing what they are will help you cope.
3. Abundance > Scarcity
What type of mindset do you have? Do you believe there is enough for everyone or that you have to grab what you can to protect yourself? If you're the former, you likely bought what you need to stock up for COVID-19 lockdown. If you are the latter, you probably have enough toilet paper and bottled water to carry you midway through 2021.
It might not sound like much, but with a scarcity mindset comes the idea that things are okay. Nothing will get better. That's not going to help you cope with a heavy emotional and cognitive load.
4. Listen to Your Body
One of the most effective ways to manage distress is to identify the physical and emotional symptoms, as well as the thoughts you tend to experience before spiraling into overwhelm. If you are confused by whether you're coping with your load, then you have to listen to your body because it holds the clues to your truth.
A body scan or check is a great daily tool to check in with yourself and get ahead of any red flags. It's easy. Simply sit quietly for a few moments, practice deep breathing, center yourself, and scan each area of your body. You can also ask specific questions about what you're dealing with to determine whether your body responds. Do you feel fearful? Are you tense or tight?
Are you feeling struggling emotionally?
You’re not alone. We all have our paths to walk during COVID-19, and some people will have had a more challenging time than others. If you are looking for someone to help you navigate the emotional toll of COVID, I can provide the support that you need!
Let me be there for you when life gets tough so that together
we can find new and more peaceful and enjoyable ways of living in this challenging world.
Reach out today!
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By Holly Miller
“Are you ready for the new school year?” is a question I hear every year earlier and earlier into my summer break. It always makes me squirm with anxiety in a regular year. This year, when the questions started coming in July, I answered with “I can’t even get my head around that yet!” I spent the good portion of August ignoring it. Even as I woke to attend my first in-service, I was still in denial that the new school year was starting. To say the start of this year has been challenging is an understatement. Teaching always presents new challenges from year-to-year, but with all of the Covid restrictions, seeing my classes for only 88 minutes once a week and coming up with digital lessons for the rest of the week for them, managing students in-person as well as live on Zoom, ensuring I am covering all of the high school math curriculum at the same pace in this platform, and trying my best to keep my students and myself safe with sanitizing, social distancing, and mask-wearing, I do not recognize what I am doing this year as teaching. And I have 100% NOT been ok mentally. I have sobbed every day after work for at least an hour when I got home up until last week. I wrote this social media post in the height of my anxiety:
I’ve had 5 panic attacks in the last 5 days. I am 100% convinced I cannot do my job. The only way I could convince myself to leave my house today was to mobile order a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks. Something good waiting for me outside of my house. I picked my drink up and headed to work. Except I didn’t. I went the complete opposite way. Trying to get myself turned around and heading in the right direction, I drive by the place where we found Murdoch after 3 weeks of hopeless hell. I am taking this as a sign that there are things I was convinced were impossible but they came to be and it can happen again. I’m completely lost. But I’m going to do the next right thing.
"I've seen dark before, but not like this
This is cold, this is empty, this is numb
The life I knew is over, the lights are out
Hello, darkness, I'm ready to succumb
This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing
Can there be a day beyond this night?
I don't know any more what is true
I can't find my direction, I'm all alone.
How to rise from the floor?
But it's not you I'm rising for
Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won't look too far ahead
It's too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I'll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And, with it done, what comes then?
When it's clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I'll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing"
- The Next Right Thing, Frozen 2
Murdoch in this story was our beloved dog my husband and I had before we were married. A friend was watching him in 2012 when we went to New York City for the day. He was a very anxious dog and when she went to let him out, he snapped his leash and ran off. Murdoch was lost for 3 entire weeks. 21 days. Over Christmas. We did absolutely everything we could to bring him home. We barely slept, barely ate, and were out in the cold and snow non-stop posting flyers, talking to people to ask if they saw him, checking out reported sightings, trekking through wooded areas, streams, and fields to find him. While we felt so hopeless, we never gave up. I never prayed for something harder in my life. 21 days later, down to the hour he escaped, we got a call that he was sighted near a housing development in a field. We were able to secure him. We got him back 6 miles from our house. It was an unbelievable miracle that came true. I always look to this as my personal miracle and proof that with God, all things are possible.
I bring up this story because often when I read in the Bible of Jesus performing miracles and his disciples doubting him, I always get kind of frustrated with his disciples at first. “Um, He is JESUS! You’ve witnessed this man do miracle after miracle! How can you doubt him?!” And then I realize I do the same in my own life. When I got lost on my way to work (seriously, how do you get lost on your way to a place you have driven to over and over again for years) and drove by the spot where God granted me the biggest miracle of my life, I knew it was no mistake. I was being reminded of who is in control when I feel out of control. Despite how terrible I am feeling mentally, how difficult I am finding it to do my job and even just function as a human being, despite my fears, doubts, and worries, I know I have already won this mental battle.
“No, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” – Romans 8:37-38
I sometimes get so caught up in drowning that I forget to look up to see that I’ve been rescued all along. While starting the school year has been tough on all of us, teachers, students, and parents, I am trying my best to remember that this battle I am trying so hard to fight has already been fought and won. Not only will we get through this rough patch, we will more than conquer it.
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life. Holly can be reached email@example.com
2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. I have seen memes about canceling this year because it has been “so bad”. Well, this year has been nothing like any of expected. We have been dealing with a global pandemic for over about half of this year and the racial injustice current is taking its toll. All of this generates emotions in us that we often refer to as negative (I like the term uncomfortable emotions better). We can feel powerless in the midst of all the emotions generated by these events. But, if we learn to bounce back, we become stronger in the long run.
You are probably saying, “bounce back from a pandemic, from racism? These big things are out of my control!” And in some ways you are right but there is so much we can do to take care of ourselves emotionally so that we can build resilience. While you are in the grasp of uncomfortable emotions, it may seem difficult to build any resilience to life’s less pleasurable experiences. It is possible, and I encourage you to keep that in mind. You can build resilience even during the toughest times!
How come some people give up and cry into a bottle, while others just pick themselves up, dust themselves off and carry on as if nothing happened? They’re called coping skills, and anyone can develop them.
Flexibility and adaptation are undoubtedly two outlooks that help people recover from bad situations. Whereas someone who may feel entrenched in their uncomfortable feelings finds it harder to remove themselves from those feelings and change direction, those who are willing to understand how to let go and change direction quickly, come out on top.
In a way, emotions are like quicksand. By seeing negative events in your life as flexible, short term situations, you can more easily move on. Let’s imagine someone who sees these negative events as a fixed point in space and time. To them, that disappointment they felt with themselves or that failure they felt, is a fixed point in their life. It’s always there. Nothing they can do will change the fact that there are failure and disappointment in their lives. Those who view situations as being temporary will be more likely to see the same situation as a speed bump in life’s rearview mirror.
So what can you do to help you adopt this outlook?
Ever poured paint or bleach into a bucket of water? The same thing happens to people who see their situations as a fixed point in life. If you only focus on what is going wrong, it starts to spread and color everything else. Try seeing new challenges as crayons that can be laid side-by-side with each other. One crayon might be missing the wrapper, the other might have been used so much that you can barely grasp it between your fingers. Some colors are more enjoyable and pleasant, compared to others. But all these crayons are useful.
To build emotional resilience, change the way you see things. But also change the way you see yourself during the crisis. If you think that you won’t make it or this is the end of you, then you will feel doomed. Your perspective is important. And then when you feel that your emotions are being highjacked, do some emotional self-care. Be kind to yourself. Nurture yourself. You can read more about emotional self-care in this article.
How would you handle these challenging events and any other hardship differently if you remembered that nothing lasts forever?
How would you feel emotionally if you focused on what you are learning through these times?
What would you conquer if examined the usefulness of every hurdle in your life?
If you want to build more resilience so you can bounce from hardships faster and always on the winning side, check out this worksheet on Resilience Traits.
A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks and we are all impacted at one level or another. Dealing with the emotional (and other) toll of corona was hard enough and now the issues of social injustice, racism, and safety are front and center. Many have lost their lives in the past week and beyond.
In the past few days, I have had many courageous conversations in diverse circles. I talked with my church small group on what the church can do to be the solution. I have also had friends who asked me what they could do to help. Emotions are high and so is helplessness.
And I understand both but I want to remind each of us that we need to have faith and hold on to hope. We also need to remember thatchange starts with each one of us. In order to change the world around us, we need to first change ourselves.
Furthermore, I want to tell you personally that I see you. I see you wanting to do your best and feeling like it's not enough. I see you having so much to say and not sure if it's the "right" thing to say. I see you wanting to make a difference and not sure where to begin.
I see you being filled with anger, frustration, sadness, confusion and even despair at times. And I see you. I see you because I too, am dealing with similar emotions and I have been working hard at recentering myself.
I see you and I want you to know that you are not alone in what you think and feel.
I see you and I'm only a click away if you need a safe place to be heard.
I see you and I want to hold space for you!
The recent events have been affecting my emotions big time and I needed to center myself in prayer this morning, maybe you need this as well. If you would like to pray with us on a regular basis, join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/PrayWithChou/
By Donna Lund
The human brain fascinates me. The information stored in our memory bank is quite remarkable and the triggers that cause memories to be retrieved with such accuracy is even more amazing. I experienced one of those triggers the other day as I read in school news that kindergarten registration is coming up. I felt this uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and my heart started to race a little. Kindergarten registration was an exciting time for my 2 girls thankfully. My boys on the other hand, not at all. The memories surrounding my boys starting kindergarten bring back to life the most traumatic school transitions we ever faced. Memories that still are as vivid as the actual events. Honestly, I'd give anything for them to just fade away.
When Donny was set to start kindergarten we did not know he was on the spectrum. We knew something was different certainly, but not exactly what. Nikki was thriving in a Catholic School but we knew Donny needed the resources of our public school district so we decided to uproot her and start both kids in our neighborhood elementary school. Family is everything to us and our kids needed to be in the same school. So during the spring of 2002, a few weeks after Cathy died, I enrolled our children in a new school for the upcoming school year. I remember so well entering the office of Baker Elementary School. I asked to talk to the principal who was retiring that year and I told him something was different about my son and he directed me to the guidance counselor. There I sat in her office. Exhausted, grief stricken and terrified. The tears began to flow as I told her about Donny, Nikki and the cancer ordeal that we had just lived through. I was so fragile during this time I felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. As I left the building I saw moms talking and laughing and I thought to myself that this school truly is the beginning of a brand new life for me. I was now sister-less and in a few months I would learn I am an autism mom. I felt like I was being tormented and was yearning for inner peace. Everything I knew was gone.
Donny's orientation to kindergarten was even more fun! Not. As the new students were filling into the school with their moms Donny would not get out of the car. There were a few moms who I was friends with that saw me struggling and they tried to coax him out of he car, even the principal came out to our car but Donny was too stressed and overwhelmed to pull it together. These were the kinds of things Donny would do that made people misunderstand him. I'm not sure how it happened but finally we made it into the building. That's where the details get blurry.
What I do know and will never forget is how remarkable and special those years were for Donny and I. His teacher was so gifted and confident and seemed to make everything ok. She was responsible for Donny's encouraging development and for giving me a game plan for how to deal autism. Donny and I were both learning and adjusting and the fog that felt suffocating was beginning to lift. In many ways I was her student too. I never knew how much a teacher could mean to our family and how that special little school would become a cornerstone in my life. At the most fragile time in my life the staff at that school was exactly what I needed as I began a new life.
Brian's kindergarten registration was completely different than Donny's in that he was already diagnosed and he had attended a special needs preschool. His needs were much different but I was eager, actually excited for him to have the same excellent teacher Donny had. I wasn't adjusting to being a special needs mom anymore and I already knew the players. It was round 2 and I was much more prepared. Of course I was heartbroken, that goes without saying, but I was used to it by now. An autism mom was who I was and probably what defines me in our community. Amazing how times change. In 2002 I could hardly say the word autism without breaking down. 15 years later I'm writing about it and own an autism mom t-shirt! I guess we are all capable of adapting even when we think we can't reinforcing why our brains are so fascinating and powerful.
Sadly, Brian going to Baker for kindergarten was not in the cards. We were informed that he would not be attending the elementary school his siblings attended. We were crestfallen that Brian would not attend the school that felt like family to us and have the wonderful teacher Donny was blessed with. I definitely was not wanting to start over and put down roots in another school. Just as I was gaining some confidence the rug was pulled out from under me and I was back to square one. It was a devastating time but we were determined to adjust and put our best foot forward. Again, as it was when Donny started kindergarten, everything I knew was gone. I have absolutely no recollection of Brian's orientation day. I'm not even sure we went.
Moments are fleeting but memories are permanent. They are a very powerful thing. Some are joyous while others are very painful. I think we share our favorite memories so they do not fade away. That notion is probably why I mention my sister a lot. They keep us connected to the past whether we want to be connected or not. The memories that are stored in our brain; the good, the bad and the ugly create our story and are a reflection of our short time on this earth. They are reminders of what we have lived through and who touched our lives both positively and negatively. I'm grateful for all of them because it means I've had an array of experiences. No one ever said life was supposed to be easy or is promised anything and I'm happy and thankful for each day.
Happy 2020 my friends...….it's time to create some new memories and I wish you all the very best!!
Donna is a wife, mother of four, and loving advocate from Pittsburgh, PA. Both of her sons have ASD. Her contribution to the autism community in her early years focused on fundraising both at the national and local level. In 2011, the Lund family was featured in a documentary, The Family Next Door. The film’s mission was to illustrate the emotional impact of autism on families, and its influence has led to speaking engagements that focus on Donna’s message of compassion. She has been invited to speak at local universities with special education teachers as well as at high schools (including annually at Mt. Lebanon School District as part of their curriculum) to promote professional development. Donna was a speaker at the Robert Morris University Educational Conference and a guest panelist for Representative Dan Miller’s Disability Summit. In 2018, she launched her blog, Labeled to Lunderful. Most recently she was a coauthor for the book collaboration You Are Not Alone. Find out more at http://www.labeledtolunderful.com/
You don't have to say, "yes" to everyone and everything. Work through the fears that lead to people-pleasing and build a strong self-construct. Here's a great resource to get you started: https://payhip.com/b/fWxt
A couple days ago, my daughter and I did a Facebook Live and talked about many of the things that our family does for fun. We also discussed why it's important to be intentional about building and cultivating relationships within the family.
What does your family do for fun?
How do you cultivate relationships within your family?"
We need to create a safe place for men to share their feelings and seek help for mental health when needed. Our physical health affects our mental health. We need to seek help for all of us, not just part of us. We need to do a better job at supporting caregivers. If you are a caregiver, we are here for you. Reach out to us today!
Here are the websites I mentioned:
A year ago today I was being air-lifted to a local hospital. Doctors, family, nor I knew what the future held. I had a few spams in my brain and I couldn’t speak or move the left side of my body. I spent a few days in the Intensive Care Unit and almost a month in a rehabilitation hospital. Then came more therapy, first at home then later at a clinic. Today, a year later, I’m grateful to be alive.
Ever been stranded? Not just on the side of the road but on the sidelines of life? Ever felt like you have given it your all and still things did not turn out as you expected? I been there many of times. At those times, what I wanted or needed was not always what I received from others.
Life has a way of hitting us out of nowhere and even the ones who prepare well are not exempt from the pains that come from living. The death of a loved one. Chronic or sudden illnesses in ourselves or in a family member. Broken relationships. Life is hard. Life can be painful. We do not have to live long before we experience pain and loss of some kind. And, if we are honest, we can all admit that we had a time or two (or more) when we did not feel like we had the strength to keep going.
We are so good at telling others to "hang in there" and "keep on keeping on" and I'm guilty of it as well. But, do we realize that statements like these force others to be (or at least pretend to be) invincible human beings who should not feel hurt, lost, or even defeated at times? That is misleading. That is not human.
It also makes us, the people saying those things, hypocrites. Not always intentionally but still hypocrites to the true sense of the word. Hypocrites, because we know that we ourselves had moments where we felt exactly the same way and the last thing we wanted to hear was "hang in there" or keep on keeping on". We felt like giving up and most likely all we needed was someone to listen, someone to show that they care, someone to remind us that tomorrow is another day.
Sometimes, we use those statements when we do not know what to say. Other times, it is simply because we ourselves feel uncomfortable with the situation. In a few instances, those statements are the easy way out when we feel inconvenienced. Yes, being there for others is an inconvenience and few of us are willing to stop and support others in ways that are meaningful to them because it is easier to simply say a quick "fix-it" statement.
People are not looking to be fixed, they want to be supported. Even on my toughest days, I do not want someone to tell me "it's going to be okay" or "this too shall pass". I want someone to just sit with me awhile and walk with me in my hardships.
Next time you see someone hurting. Please do more than give advice. Sit with them. Talk with them. Share a time when you overcame a hardship. Most importantly, ask them "how can I support you in this?" This reminds them that they are humans, just like the rest of us. This shows that someone cares. This gives them hope. This also helps you help them in a way that they want to be helped.
Chou Hallegra - Counselor & Consultant
I know that I don’t have to write a blog post each week, but this is a goal I set for myself. It keeps my brain and fine motors working. Writing has been so therapeutic to me, I get to work on so many therapy/recovery goals in one exercise. Hence, I will do my best to write a few sentences each week.
I’ve been home for five days now. I already had one trip to the Emergency Room, that was scary. Thank God, I’m back home. Home Health services are going well. I was looking forward to being home but being home has also been very overwhelming.
However, it’s a joy to see how much my children have grown during this time. On Monday, I watched my middle child get yogurt and cereal from the kitchen, serve himself, sit at the table to eat, then clean up the table. He also returned the yogurt and cereal to where he got them from and washed his bowl. He did all that before getting his shoes and coat on for school. He will be 6 years old in a month and completing all those tasks took lot of effort and planning. He had to overcome many organizational, fine motor and sensory challenges, but he did it! I was so proud of him.
This past weekend, my 11-year-old daughter, the oldest, asked to mop the kitchen floor. I kept telling her not to worry about it, but she found many reasons to do it and assured me she would be safe. She sure did! She moped the kitchen and the upstairs bathroom and has been cleaning many other things around the house.
Last night, the youngest of our family (he will be four years old in a few days), applied lotion on my very dry legs. He loves that texture, so he had fun doing it but when he was done, he said to me, “does that make you feel better?” I had tears. I thought I was giving him something fun to do but he was more concerned about taking care of me.
In their unique ways, my children have been taking good care of me. I’m a blessed Mama, I have great kids. I also have awesome friends who shower me with love and take care of my children and me during this time. Thank you all for your prayers, visits, cards, calls, texts, emails, messages, gifts, meals, and encouragement. You make me brave and I thank God for each one of you!
If you need hep finding resources in your community, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-216-0230.
Chou is a best-selling Author, a Transformational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at email@example.com