After hearing that so many are struggling working from home, I wanted to share some basic tips. Many of you did not choose to work from home but were sort of forced into it as times have changed so quickly. Many of you are also expected to homeschool your children in addition to working from home which is an entirely different topic for a different day.
The most important thing to remember is to give yourself some grace as expectations placed on us by others and by ourselves seem to have changed and increased. Keep kindness toward yourself in mind and I hope these tips help!
Space: Designate a specific place where you will work from. Whether it is a separate office, bedroom, or place at the kitchen table, do your very best to keep all work activities and materials in this place only.
Time: Develop a daily schedule just like you do (or should) when you are at your office with specific blocks of time where you are working and are in your “office space.” During the time you are at your workspace, you are at work, when you are scheduled to be off for lunch, break or for the evening, you will walk away and leave work behind. Do not take it with you and do not answer the phone or respond to work emails.
Family/Roommate Boundaries: Communicate where and when you will be “at work” with the people you live with and ask that they respect that time and not interrupt you unless it is an emergency, or be specific about how they can contact you with needs during this time. You may even develop some type of sign that says “do not disturb” or “work in progress.”
Get Dressed: It is really difficult to get in work mode in your pajamas, get dressed, even if it is a shirt you would wear to work and sweatpants (my go to). Engage in at least part of your normal “getting ready” routine to tell your brain “it’s time to work.”
Move Around: It is easy to sit in one place all day (if you don’t have kids) when working from home which results in poor posture, poor eating habits and allows stress to build up in the body. Incorporate time to get up and stretch, move, eat, and get outside if at all possible, into your daily schedule.
Solo Self-Care Time: If you do live with others especially, but either way, set a period of time where you are alone and can engage in any number of relaxation or wellness activities to help keep you centered. This could be taking a bath, reading, exercise, meditation, etc.
Bonus Tip– EVERYONE HATES INTERNET MEETINGS: Try your best to manage stress when it comes to trouble with Zoom meetings, or coworker’s odd behavior, or your dog making an awkward appearance. Do some deep belly breathing and tell yourself that everyone struggles with these equally.
Remember that this is a major adjustment and it takes some work to manage your mindset around turning work on and off when you are at home. It will get better and it will be okay.
Deciding to seek therapy is a big decision, but an important one. Once you have made this decision, finding a great therapist is the next step, and it can be rather overwhelming. Research shows that the most important factor for success in therapy is the relationship between the therapist and patient/client.
Many therapists advertise a free phone/video consultation so they can hear a bit about why you are seeking therapy and if it is an issue they feel qualified to help you with. This is also an opportunity for them to share how they might help you, and what their therapeutic style is to see if you might be a good fit together. These are some questions you might ask in that initial consultation.
When you are looking on Psychology Today, or google, or any directory to find a therapist and find someone that looks like they might be helpful to you, but they do not advertise a free consultation, you can call and ask them for a few minutes of their time to ask these questions. It could save you from going through the process of completing a bunch of paperwork and meeting with someone who is not a good fit.
Are you licensed to practice therapy (LPC, LCSW, LMFT, PsyD, PhD) in the state we are currently located in?
What style of therapy do you practice?
How would you help me with ______________(anxiety, trauma, stress management, whatever you are seeking support for) and do you have experience working with this particular issue?
For Telehealth (Online Therapy):
What software do you use for online appointments and is it HIPAA compliant?
HIPAA is basically a policy/law that is in place on a federal level to ensure that healthcare providers and facilities protect patient/client information and allow you to have access to your medical records. It is important to choose a provider who keeps this in mind and protects your information when you are doing online therapy.
Do you have any specific training in teletherapy?
**A good rule of thumb is that if you find yourself wanting to tell them more, it might be a good fit. If you feel comfortable and that you are being heard and understood, that is a great sign. If not, thank them for their time and share that you are planning to keep looking.
Good luck in your search. Therapy is challenging, but so very worth it in the end!
I usually handle winter pretty well. I decide to live in a place where we have an extremely long and often cold and snowy winter, and I choose to have a positive attitude about it. However, by the time the end of January, into February, I start to notice the weather wearing on me. Here are some ideas of things you might do to mix things up:
Get out of your regular, daily routine. Something as simple as trying a new restaurant or driving a different way home to check out a new view can make a big difference.
Rearrange your furniture in either a specific room, or even your whole house. For extra points, check out Feng Shui techniques to balance energy even better!
Try adding 15-30 minutes of relaxation/meditation/mindfulness/yoga relaxing at either the beginning of your day, or at the end to reduce worries or sadness and increase a sense of calm and self-awareness. If these things are challenging, go to a class!
Exercise! If you are anything like me, winter is hibernation season, but there is something to be said for “if you can’t beat em’, join em’. Try a new winter activity from snowshoeing to ice fishing, there is something for everyone, just bundle up!
Make a plan with a friend/friends. We tend to see other people less in the winter. If you want to stay in, invite them over for hot chocolate (or hot toddies) and game night.
Get out of town. Whether your budget allows for a beach vacation, or a day at hot springs in a nearby town, a change of location can help with perspective.
Get a massage, try acupuncture, reiki, anything else that sparks your interest as these treatment modalities can make a big difference in mood!
Hang in there, only another 3 or 4 months to go until it’s warm again!
We know what pacing means in the context of running or exercise or “pacing oneself” with other activities such as drinking or working. When it comes to chronic pain, pacing is a skill that helps a person with pain to manage productivity and also increase ability to tolerate activity. Individuals with chronic pain tend to have some level of ebb and flow with their pain, some days are worse, and other days are better. On the days that are good, the individual tends to overcompensate with accomplishing tasks and engaging in activity they are not able to on bad days. What happens is, they exhaust themselves and then tend to experience a drop in energy and increase in pain the following day/days.
Pacing can be challenging but is a useful way to try to manage the ups and downs. This comes down to organization and planning.
How to Activity Pace:
Step 1: Determine what your most important activities are (playing with your kids, household tasks, walking the dog).
Step 2: Creating a schedule with these activities in it for small bits of time, break it up into parts which will help you to move around and engage in our next step.
Step 3: Planned breaks in activity. Especially after periods of activity, build in periods of relaxation, stretching, light walking prior to returning to activity.
This cycle of activity and relaxation will be repeated daily.
When you feel good, do not do more than the schedule allows, and on a bad day, try to keep up with your goals.
Avoid remaining in one position for more than 30 minutes.
Slowly increase activity as tolerated
I have attached an example of a worksheet you can use to plan pacing until it becomes a habit and second nature for you.
Wayfinding is an ancient Polynesian practice of navigating the open oceans with deep understanding of the sky and the water. We have a deep love and respect for Hawaii and its people, it has been a second home to us for many years. These sacred traditions of finding one’s way with no tools aside from nature and its elements is representative of the challenge that it is to find the motivation and tools to change your behavior, or things that you want to change in your life.
Wayfinding is also a concept used in architecture and engineering to help people find their way, from signage, to the way buildings are built with the human psyche in mind. This concept also directly applies to the therapeutic process. One must recognize the problem, what is not working, then experience motivation to make changes and set goals. Next, implementation of various skills to help make changes, assess what is working and what is not working and then celebrate achievement of goals, however small. Just like when someone is lost, you have to work to discover your location, use tools like maps, compasses, the stars, set a new course and continue checking you are on the right path until you reach your destination. However, just like with travel, or finding your way somewhere, that’s not the end destination, you have to find your way to the next place and the place after that. Self-love, sobriety, remission, health, etc. are all processes, not destinations.
Developing a sustainable plan to continuously work toward these goals is the purpose of therapy. This is why the name Wayfinder was chosen. Ancient Polynesian civilizations did not have an easy time navigating their way across the vast oceans, and behavior change is not easy either, but it’s possible with the right tools and support.
It took me until age today to realize how much time I spent talking myself into believing all of the things that I was bad at or couldn’t do. Somewhere along the way, I built up a system of lies that I told myself and others. “I am bad at math” (okay, that one is true). “I am not creative.” “I am not a tech person.” “I don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body.” Now this all plays into my self-deprecating sense of humor those that know me have come to love. However, I blindly subscribed to beliefs that have no basis in reality, except the math thing. How many adventures did this stop me from going on? What did these deeply rooted false beliefs prevent me from learning or growing from?
This realization could have caused me to spiral into all of the what ifs, but I am choosing to use it to reframe my future. My main therapeutic framework is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which means I help people identify automatic negative thoughts that then lead to unwanted feelings and unwanted behavior. I am attempting to apply that process to this system of thoughts I developed probably very early on.
These new realizations came from a decision to build a private counseling practice. All of a sudden, I was filled with creative ideas, entrepreneurial ideas for how to use my skills to help people in a way that fits me. I designed my website and even used some basic coding skills. I got positive feedback about the site, some even asked if I might help with theirs. The thought “I am not a tech person” pops in. Look at all the evidence to the contrary. It appears, I am actually quite good at it.
“I am not creative.” No, I do not knit, paint or draw worth a crap. That does not mean that I am not creative in other ways. I can sing, build websites, have a lot of entrepreneurial ideas and other traits that do not fit the prescribed personality and profile I created for myself over the years.
Consider what lies you tell yourself about your abilities and things you think you are bad at or cannot do. We all have weaknesses (math), and that’s okay, but there are likely a number of things that you can do and are good at that you are unaware of. Become aware of the thought, recognize it, stop it in its tracks, question it, admit that it is untrue/irrational and then replace it with the truth.
Ouch that break-up, what happened? Are you ever going to get married? Are you planning on having kids anytime soon? Still sober? What happened to what’s her/his name? Sound familiar?
For some, the holidays are a time of joy and time with those we love. For others, it is a time that may remind us of painful memories, or responsibility to others at our own expense. Sometimes going home for the holidays or having family and/or friends to visit can mean being badgered with unwanted questions about your personal life or things that may have changed that you do not want to explain. Here are some ideas for managing these uncomfortable situations.
You do not owe anyone a response, period. It has been ingrained in us, that in order to be respectful, we respond when spoken to. This does not mean that if someone has asked us about a topic we do not want to discuss, that we cannot be assertive and respectfully decline to respond.
Assertive communication means effectively and appropriately sharing your wants, needs and boundaries.
If you feel the need to respond, you can try one of the following:
Evasion: “Thank you for asking.”
Divert attention: “I have had a busy year, what have you been up too/how is so and so?”
Direct: “I’m not comfortable answering that” or “I’m working on myself and would like to keep this private.”
Have a “buddy” to help you dodge these questions. Maybe your sister is particularly supportive and understanding, make sure she knows that you do not want to be asked about your DUI, or your divorce, etc. Let her run interference for you.
Or, just walk away!
It can be really helpful to practice some of these communication skills in advance, especially if you are not used to asserting yourself in this manner, or you have been feeling particularly vulnerable.
Our frustration or sadness around these questions does not mean we do not love or care for the people that ask them. People show they care in different ways, and sometimes it takes reminding them that their words can hurt to change their behavior.
If going home, or having people over causes you undue stress, anxiety, depression, panic or any other overwhelming emotion, don’t do it this year (or ever)! Taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give. You are working hard enough, spend your time doing what you want to do, with who you want to do it.
With the first snow coming and going, and the first 11-degree morning, I have heard many deep sighs and grumbles about the beginning of our very long (8 month) winter, guilty of this myself as well in all honesty. While the winter is simply annoying to some, for others, winter is a time where one can become clinically depressed. It is very important to differentiate this from just feeling sad or blue. Much like traditional depression, this is not a choice, it is a chemical occurrence where your brain is misbehaving, and the exact cause is unknown. This can also occur during summer as well, though this is less common.
How can I tell if this more than regular ol’ sadness?
Feeling down for more than a few hours or a day
at a time
Feeling uninterested in leaving home or engaging
in the things you love to do
More nervous/anxious/irritable than usual
Sleeping or eating a lot more than normal
What can I do about it?
All the Serotonin (happy brain chemical) boosters
Exercise- As simple as taking a short walk around the neighborhood or stretching in your living room. Find something that fits into your life, that is manageable.
Balanced diet– Don’t give up the things you love when you are sad, eat the chocolate! Also try to eat something small every few hours (especially breakfast, for you non-breakfast eaters). Add some protein, vegetables, fruits, to your carbs and you’re good to go. Now is not the time to diet!
Sleep– A solid sleep routine is crucial.
Healthy relationships and interaction with others
Vacation or Staycation– if you don’t have time off or it is cost prohibitive.
Vitamin D-Talk with your doctor about checking your Vitamin D level and adding a Vitamin D supplement, especially in the winter. Being low on Vitamin D can cause a plethora of unwanted physical and emotional side effects.
Light therapy- There is some research that shows this can be an effective treatment for seasonal depression.
Therapy- If the above-mentioned interventions are not working or you are having increased depression, consider reaching out to a therapist near you. There are excellent therapists that can see you in person, and others who are able to see you online to help you develop coping skills to manage depression. This is often not a lengthy, years long process, but can be rather helpful quickly.
Medication- Medication in the form of SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors can help in addition to therapy. Talk to your doctor to see if medication might be right for you.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), tell someone, reach out.
I want to introduce myself, my practice and my reason for doing what I do. I can think of a lot of ways to describe myself; a daughter, dog mother, friend, partner, small town/dirt road lover, an only child, a helper, a traveler, avid reader. Growing up, when someone would ask what I wanted to be, it was always some form of doctor or surgeon depending upon the day. After making the decision that chemistry was just too much to ask of me, I gave up on that plan.
I tried on a lot of potential careers from preschool teacher, to singer in Nashville to volunteer in orphanages in far reaches of the world (turns out that one doesn’t pay much). I eventually grew up and became a therapist. I liked being a therapist, but there was still a desire for more, to study further. I came across the Doctor of Behavioral Health program on the back of a brochure and right there and then, realized that I would in fact become a doctor, just not the kind I had originally planned. The DBH program is built on the premise that the mind and body are connected, you cannot treat one without the other. I studied entrepreneurship and the business side of this new way of viewing healthcare. I studied psychopharmacology so I would be able to recommend psychotropic medication to primary care providers I was working with. I learned how to work as part of a multi-disciplinary care team and how the brain works. Most importantly, I learned the vast connection between behavioral interventions and medical interventions when addressing chronic health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure or chronic pain. I witnessed how powerful talking to someone about how difficult it is to receive a new medical diagnosis and change their diet or take new medication was in helping them process and manage it. I have been able to practice this in a variety of settings from a healthcare clinic for the homeless to the Cystic Fibrosis team at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Now, I want to bring this into your home. I want to help you cope with whatever it is that is getting in the way of the life you want. I use a directive, evidence-based approach to develop applicable strategies that fit into your life to manage your health condition or distress.
Stay tuned for helpful information and tips. Thanks for reading!