Building CommUNITY During Social Distancing and Self-Quarantine

Building CommUNITY During Social Distancing and Self-Quarantine

Building CommUNITY During Social Distancing and Self-Quarantine

You Are Not Alone

During a time of uncertainty and fear, it can be easy to feel isolated and alone (especially, when current CDC recommendations call for a degree of social isolation). You may even feel a sense of disconnection…there’s a lot going on and a lot to process!

Although, it may feel like a “silly” time to find the silverlining (and, certainly, I do not want to diminish the hardship many of our community members are currently experiencing or will likely experience over the coming weeks). I do find sometimes, crisis situations lend themselves to fostering a sense of community and belonging if we are able to look hard enough. 

Think of an incredibly challenging event you have faced (and it might even be right now!). What did you crave most? I wonder if it might have been a sense of support or connectedness? A feeling that tells us, we are not alone.

First, it can be helpful to draw on what we as humans are programmed to do…which is to connect! We have a biological predisposition to seek connection, closeness, and attachment with others. 

At the core, we are social creatures. How we go about having our needs for connectedness met can vary, but I think most of us can relate to the desire to feel like a part of something larger than ourselves (i.e. finding our community: whether this means your social network, a bowling league, athletic team, a religious group, etc). 

I wanted to share ideas that may help you to foster a sense of belonging and connectedness, during a trying time, that can easily lend itself to feeling quite the opposite (disconnected and isolated). Below are a few tips to help you cultivate unity during a time of polarization.

You’re Not Alone

Everyone is experiencing the consequences of Covid-19. Although the consequences we each experience may vary in their specifics, we are all experiencing them. Unfortunately, no one has the opportunity to “opt-out.” This may in some ways feel disheartening, but perhaps we can view this as a more global opportunity to foster connectedness through shared experiences. 

We can seek cohesion, in knowing, across the world others are faced with the same hard questions, the same uncertainties, and are continuing to foster resilience. There is power in normalizing and sharing the burden of hardships. [For more on adapting to change, check out this article, Resilience: How to Adapt to Change.]

Reflect On What You Can Control And How This Can Help Your Community (And Yourself)

There is no beating around the bush, there’s A LOT of uncertainty about what the future might look like. However, there are things each of us has the power to impact. We are all able to contribute to the safety of ourselves and our community members. Find your agency in a situation where you may feel disempowered! 

Example: we all have the power to control our hygiene (like washing our hands and avoiding touching our faces) and to truly take part in social distancing efforts. Your individual efforts do have a community impact.

Community Contributions

Happiness research shows we feel better by doing good things for others. How can you contribute to the wellbeing of your community? Is this by donating to your local food bank (if able)? Or, this could simply mean doing your part to abide by health and safety recommendations. 

Conversely, perhaps you might find it beneficial to access community support and resources. Healthy communities can cultivate positive relationships, involving reciprocal give and take. If each person assumes responsibility for their part, we can inadvertently overcome obstacles as a community.

We Are All Connected

If the spread of this virus has demonstrated one thing, it is that we are connected worldwide through many different channels. This means, from a systemic perspective, when one person changes their actions, this can create a ripple effect. This then has the power to ultimately change the entire system. How cool is that?!

What this boils down to is recognizing we are part of a larger functioning system, and we each have power and agency to impact positive change. Your role in the system matters and is inherently intertwined with others.

Access Your Network (and, no, I’m not just talking about your wifi)

Identify your social support system and lean on them, as they will likely need to lean on you during this time. Specific activities that foster a sense of unity can have a profound impact on our individual sense of wellbeing. [Read: Coronavirus Life: Practical Advice to Help You Cope for more ways you can focus on your individual sense of wellbeing while being there for your community.]

Identify how you can feel close while practicing physical distance. Example: meeting with friends via FaceTime and participating in “virtual” activities.

I know this doesn’t take away the pain, fear, and loss you may be experiencing. Instead, my hope is to shed a small light on ways we could find unity within our communities. In turn, perhaps this may help to counterbalance some of the emotional burden.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on how we, as a collective society, will look back on this experience. What might we say about it? Perhaps we will be able to say, we stood by one another and worked to protect not only our own individual interests, but that of our loved ones and community members. 

Maybe we will be able to share that we looked at the worldwide consequences and thought about ways we each could individually impact positive change (because, believe it or not, we do have some agency). Not that we didn’t think about ourselves (because this is important too), but that we considered our own well-being in the context of others. We are stronger together.

In a time where you may feel alone, I’d like to wish you not only health but also unity and connectedness.

Warmly, 
Rachel Harder, MA, LPC, MFTC

Rachel Harder, MA, LPC, MFTC helps you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.

Let’s  Talk

Read More by Rachel Here…

Covid 19 Anxiety: How to Cope

Covid 19 Anxiety: How to Cope

Covid 19 Anxiety: How to Cope

How to Deal With Coronavirus Anxiety

If you have anxiety about coronavirus, you’re not alone. Many people have been experiencing Covid 19 anxiety, and understandably so. The virus is spreading, things are being canceled, schools and businesses are closing, and these are uncertain times. 

There is so much in the news right now about how to protect your physical health against Coronavirus, but not so much advice for how to protect your mental health from Coronavirus anxiety. And… lots of people need that right now.

In the past week I’ve had so many therapy clients reaching out for online therapy for anxiety, (they wisely want to have their therapy from home right now!), specifically wanting to talk about how to manage anxiety about coronavirus. They’re worried about getting sick, or what will happen if they do get sick, and even their financial future. For some, it’s all they can think about. And it’s scary.

How to Manage Anxiety About Coronavirus

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m sharing practical strategies for how to reduce Corona anxiety and replace it with activating, helpful ways of thinking so that you can stay in a good place mentally and emotionally during this challenging time. Specifically:

– How to shift out of anxiety and into a proactive stance, mentally.

– How to increase your emotional resilience.

– How to maintain supportive emotional connections in the age of “social distancing” 

– And more.

I hope these strategies help you reduce your anxiety about Coronavirus, and resource you to stay strong and resilient.

Wishing you love, happiness, success and health,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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How to Deal With Covid 19 Anxiety

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Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD, LMFT, BCC

"Hi, I'm Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby. For over a decade, I've been helping people all over the world create Love, Happiness and Success in their lives through positive, compassionate and effective Marriage Counseling, Therapy and Life Coaching. I'm so pleased to be able to help you, too. There is help for you here, and I'm glad you've found us.

This website is devoted to your wellbeing, and offers loads of free information and actionable advice that you can start using today to create positive change in your life. Browse around to meet our experts, get free advice on our blog, listen to a podcast, or take our "How Healthy is Your Relationship" quiz. Or, if the time is right, you can schedule a free consultation with any of us to talk about your situation -- and, most importantly -- your hopes for your future." -- Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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My passion is helping people just like you reach their highest potential both individually, and in their most important relationships. 

Whether we work together in couples counseling, family therapy, individual therapy, or life coaching, my focus will be understanding your deepest desires for your marriage, your family, and yourself so that I can help you create your most gratifying life. Our work can help you heal, gain understanding and compassion for yourself and others, and live with intention.” 

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Nutrition and Mood

Nutrition and Mood

Nutrition and Mood

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Healthy Body, Happy Heart

 

As a therapist and life coach, over the years I have gained a healthy respect for the limits of traditional talk therapy. The truth is that we’re complex, and many things factor in to how you feel day-to-day. Simply “working through the past” or gaining insight into your self (while fantastic) is not usually enough to actually change how you feel. Certainly, our thoughts impact our feelings, as do our life circumstances. When you make positive changes in either of those areas, you’re likely to feel better.

However, something that many therapists and life coaches (and physicians, and psychologists for that matter) miss is the dramatic interplay between physical and emotional wellness. The mind / body connection is not new-age hocus-pocus; it’s a fact. What is happening in your body impacts the way you think and feel. Likewise, the way you think and feel impacts your health. (I could bore you with a detailed explanation of the fight-or-flight stress response and it’s impact on cognition, immunity, sleep cycles and more, but I’m going to restrain myself today). Winning!

Nutrition and Mood

One big piece of the mind / body connection that has been largely overlooked in the past by the mental health community is the relationship between your nutrition and your mental and emotional wellbeing. Being deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients can have a significant impact on the way you feel, and according to recent research, by treating these deficiencies many “mental health” symptoms can be relieved. [More: Natural Remedies for Depression]

This is big news, particularly because it is very easy to become nutritionally malnourished in America these days. Much of the standard, processed American fare that is consumed by most of us regularly (pastas, sodas, fast foods, chemical sweeteners, pretty much anything bread-based or with potatoes in it) has little to no nutritional value.

Even conventional fruits and vegetables, if they’re grown on overworked depleted soil supplemented with sub-par chemical fertilizers can be nutritionally depleted and therefore have less nutritional value for you than you might think. It’s easy as pie (eating pie, that is) to become deficient in important vitamins and minerals, which can lead to a multitude of health problems as well as create feelings of anxiety and depression. Strategic incorporation of foods high in vitamins and minerals, and/or vitamin supplements may be extremely helpful in lifting your mood or calming a worried mind.

I’ll go over a few vitamins and minerals that have been found to be linked with mood, for your information. My big disclaimer here is that I am not a nutritionist or dietician and can’t offer any specific advice on supplements that you should or should not be taking given your unique health situation. If you think that you may be deficient and would like to get on a good nutritional plan I would recommend sitting down with a registered dietician or a naturopathic doctor.

Nutrients That Are Known To Impact Mood

Iron and Depression

  • If you’ve ever been anemic I don’t need to tell you that if you’re deficient in iron you feel awful. Tired, lethargic, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in activities you once found pleasurable…. Sounds familiar? Sounds like something from an anti-depressant commercial, doesn’t it? The effect of not having enough iron is similar to that of depression, particularly in the physical experience of depression (tired, withdrawn) but also in the experience of isolation, loss of pleasure, loss of energy, and overall depressed mood. Anemia (iron deficiency) is associated with higher levels of depression. It’s not unheard of for someone’s chronic “depression” to finally lift when their nutritional deficiencies are addressed appropriately.
    • Fun facts about iron: Iron is more absorbable from natural food sources than it is from supplements, so it’s best to get it from dietary sources if you can. It’s also more absorbable when taken with vitamin C. There is lots of iron in red meat, but if you avoid red meat or are a vegetarian and not conscientiously eating other sources of iron like spinach and broccoli, you can easily become deficient in this mineral. Iron supplements can be very helpful, however you can also take too much iron, so a safe bet would be to find a high quality multivitamin with iron in it.
    • For more info on depression, check out: Is it Depression?

Magnesium and Anxiety

  • I recently found out something fascinating about magnesium. It’s actually often given to people in hospital emergency rooms because deficiency in this mineral is so widespread, and deficits are associated with serious health problems like muscle cramps, heart spasms, high blood pressure, abnormal heart beats, and even seizures—as well as intense anxiety. Speaking generally, high amounts of magnesium are associated with relaxation, calm and “looseness” whereas low amounts of magnesium are associated with irritability, anxiety, and tenseness, both physically and mentally.
    • Fun facts about magnesium and mood: You can take magnesium as a supplement (but do your research, as some variants are more absorbable than others) but anther good way to get magnesium in your system in through Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) in your bath. If you want to go the dietary route, add dark leafy greens and beans to your diet.

B Vitamins, Depression, Anxiety and Energy Levels

  • These important vitamins play a role in the formation of neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that mediate interactions between neurons and other structures in your brain. When your neurotransmitters are depleted, or not in balance people frequently experience a disturbance in their mood as well as in their overall energy. Antidepressant medications work by increasing the amount of available neurotransmitters you have via various mechanisms. It’s been found that people deficient in B vitamins often have symptoms of depression as well. There are a number of important B Vitamins but the major players associated with depression are Thiamin, Folate, B-6, and B-12.
    • Fun facts about B Vitamins: Foods with the most B Vitamins tend to be animal products like fish, red meat, eggs, and dairy. Unless they are very conscientious about getting enough of these vitamins from other sources (whole grains, nuts and seeds) Vegans may be at risk of becoming deficient, especially in B12. However there are plant based B12 supplements.

Vitamin D, Depression and Illness

  • Having low levels of vitamin D has been associated with depression, fertility issues, inflammatory responses and a less efficient immune system.
    • Fun facts about Vitamin D: Milk products are commonly fortified with vitamin D, but in addition to drinking milk you have a fast, easy and free source: Sunlight. Spending just a few minutes in the sun with bare arms and/or legs will give you more than enough vitamin D to boost your mood. Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunlight in cold, dark winter months may be one factor associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People with darker skin living in northern latitudes and dairy-avoiders are even more vulnerable to this deficiency. Reason #374 to get some fresh air and exercise outside!

Fish Oil, Mood and Cognition

  • The helpful fats in fish oils contain molecules that help create the neurotransmitter seretonin, and also seem to make your cells more permeable to the neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. There’s enough recent evidence between the impact of fish oil on mental health symptoms that a forward-thinking psychiatrist may even prescribe them to you along with your anti-depressant medication.
    • Fun facts about fish oil: You can get your daily dose of Omega 3’s, the active ingredient in fish oil through natural sources such as fatty fish and flax-seed oil. However, if salmon burgers are not your thing, fish oil supplements are widely available now. Supplements vary in quality. Check labels to make sure that your selection has been tested for mercury and other contaminants.

Probiotics and Mood

  • We know that the neurotransmitter serotonin impacts mood. But did you know that the second largest serotonin-producing factory in your body, after your brain, is actually your gastrointestinal tract? Numerous studies have shown that the quality of your healthy gut bacteria can have a significant impact on your serotonin production and consequently, your mood. Fascinatingly, one research study took gut bacteria from happy mice and sad mice, and swapped them. The sad mice demonstrated more behaviors associated with happiness in mice (sniffing? running on their little wheels? the study did not elaborate, sadly), and the formerly happy mice became sadder. Poor mice. However, the takeaway for us is this: Probiotics impact mood.
    • Fun facts about probiotics: Natural sources of probiotics include fermented foods like kombucha, kimchee and sauerkraut. Supplements are also available. High quality probiotics can be pricy, however when you consider the impact they may have on your overall life satisfaction they’re worth it. Other ways to support your gut health is by eating high quality, high fiber, plant based foods. Apparently, roughage supports the growth of healthy bacteria.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Friends, I could go on. (Want to talk about exercise and mood? Don’t get me started!) But the point is that the way you feel on the inside, the way you think, and the way you react are all impacted by the way you care for yourself physically, as well as emotionally. That’s just one of the reasons why the counselors and coaches of Growing Self are such strong advocates of self-care. If you’ve been feeling not-so-hot lately, it may be a good idea to take a look at how you’ve been eating and caring for yourself physically.

You are a WHOLE being. You have thoughts, feelings, behaviors, relationships, and you are involved in different systems to boot. All of these impact you. It’s always helpful to talk about your feelings in order to understand yourself and develop compassion for yourself. However, you may move forward faster when you partner with a coach or counselor who will also support you in taking action to make positive changes in all parts of your life. You’re worth taking good care of!

All the best to you,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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How to Stop Worrying: Seven Tips to Manage Stress

How to Stop Worrying: Seven Tips to Manage Stress

How to Stop Worrying: Seven Tips to Manage Stress

Rachel Harder is a marriage counselor, life coach and therapist with Growing Self Counseling and Coaching who specializes in helping you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.  Learn more about Rachel.

Are You a World-Class Worrier?

Have you ever found yourself laying in bed and worrying: “Did I set my alarm?  What all do I need to get done tomorrow? Agh, I forgot I have a meeting! I hope my boss won’t say anything about that project. How will I have time to stop by the grocery store and get to the gym!? Maybe I should cut the gym out?” 

Well you get the picture, the worries, to-do lists, and questions can go on and on. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you may be a pro-worrier. You may notice worrying is impacting your relationships and your overall happiness. So, put your to-do lists aside and take a deep breath! We’re going to talk about

dealing with worry and stress.

Let’s start with a little background about why stress can have such a big impact. Stress is a “normal,” biological, bodily response. It helps to trigger our “fight or flight” response, which protects us in potentially dangerous situations. This is great! It means your body is functioning effectively! What’s not great is when we experience this response over an extended period of time. This can negatively impact our nervous and immune systems.

When we practice strategies to reduce our stress and worry levels, it can also have a positive impact on how our bodies are functioning from a physiological perspective, improving overall wellness. Now let’s get to the good stuff. I’m reaching into my cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques tool bag to bring you Seven Skills for Stress. I use these with my therapy and life coaching clients all the time, and I know they work. Try using these to help mitigate some of that worry!

Seven Skills to Manage Stress

  1. Prioritize:Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done and worrying about how you will accomplish all of it? Taking a look at what needs to get done versus what we would like to get done can be helpful. For example, picking your kids up from school likely needs to get done, but do you NEED to vacuum the floors, or can it wait?
  2. Delegate:You might be thinking, “I’m uncomfortable with asking for help.” However, try to remember you are one part of a greater system, and in order for that system to run smoothly, all pieces need to be up and running. You can prioritize high-stress or high-need tasks and delegate! If they are necessary tasks of daily living for your household, you can ask for some support. This can be talking to a friend or asking your partner to make dinner. Remember, bids for attention connect!
  3. “This or That” Thinking: Often worry can be rooted in dichotomous thinking (sometimes called “black and white” thinking). This means we may say to ourselves, “This has to happen, or that will happen.” When we think in this way we eliminate the opportunity for flexibility. You essentially have sent the message to your body, if this does not get done now, there is danger! Take a moment and ask yourself is there another option?  What’s the middle ground? [Learn more about helpful vs. unhelpful thinking styles in our online Happiness Class.]
  4. What’s the Worst that Could Happen?: Let’s face it- it can be incredibly easy to catastrophize. How many of us play out “the worst case scenario,” just so we’re prepared…”just in case.” Take a moment and first practice noticing when you’re jumping to the worst-case scenario, then ask yourself, “Is this really a likely outcome?” Are there other more positive outcomes that are equally as likely?
  5. What’s the Evidence?: Ask yourself is there any past evidence to support that I cannot handle or manage the tasks at hand? Chances are, there will not be much evidence to support that in times of intense worry you won’t be able to formulate a plan of action. Remember: You got this!
  6. Explore Activities That Work For You: Oftentimes when you’re stressed, the activities that give you a sense of relaxation fall to the wayside. Try to remember that taking care of you allows you to be present for others in your life. Try integrating activities into your daily schedule that give you some relief; this could range from taking five minutes to just breathe to going for a run outside.
  7. What Can I Control?: Oftentimes we worry about things we do not have control over. Take the pressure off of yourself to control the uncontrollable! All you can control is yourself. When you notice your thoughts pushing you to analyze all of the external circumstances, bring yourself back to the simple (or not so simple) question of “What is within my control?”

Managing worry and stress is all about finding what works for you! Everyone experiences and deals with stress differently. Remember we can’t control that stress is a biological response but you do have control over how you’d like to manage it. If you’ve been struggling with stress and worry lately, and would like some personal support in managing it just get in touch with me: I’m always here to talk.

All the best,
Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFTC

How To Stop Worrying: Avoid The Mind Trap

How To Stop Worrying: Avoid The Mind Trap

Anxiety Management: How to Stop Worrying About The “What-If’s”

I have an infant, which means that over the past several months I have often found myself awake in the middle of the night feeding a hungry baby. Although I would do everything possible to keep my mind quiet and in sleep mode I started to notice a recurring pattern.

I would have just settled into the still and quiet of the night when I would hear a little voice in my head say “what should we feel anxious about right now?” This voice was clear as could be, prompting me to run through all the things in life I could worry about that would most likely keep me up for the rest of the night. Having spent years as a therapist and life coach helping others learn to manage their anxiety as well as teaching myself to manage my own, I was able to see this for what it was…a trap.

The mind is an amazing tool that can also be a bit of a narcissist, demanding attention when it is beginning to feel forgotten. In order to regain your focus, the mind will create the illusion of distress and unrest where there is none.

Learning how to combat the “worry trap” of the mind creates an experience of true freedom.

People have a tendency to believe that their thoughts have power over them, when in reality, we have power over our thoughts. Research into evidence-based forms of therapy, such as cognitive therapy, shows that by repeatedly practicing a different thought patterns we can create new neurological pathways in the brain. This means that with practice, you can begin to control the reflexive response of anxiety and feel more at peace.

Three Steps to Get Out of The Mind-Trap

  1. Ask Questions: You can take the first step out of the mind trap by asking yourself a couple of simple questions. Is there anything I can solve right now? And if so, what are the solvable problems? I know that at 2:00 in the morning the chances of me solving any of my worries are slim to none, making it pointless for me to give that little voice any attention at all.
  2. Talk Back: I found that the simple act of saying to myself “there is nothing I can do about any of these anxieties at this moment” quiets that nagging voice.
  3. Solve Your Solvable Problems, or Let It Go: However, when that voice presents in a moment where you can tackle the anxiety, identifying the solvable problems does two things. First, it exposes whether or not the anxious thoughts are based in reality and second it helps you regain your sense of control. If there are no solvable problems than you can consider it wasted worry and move on. On the other hand, if there are solvable problems, taking the steps to remedy whatever it is that is provoking the anxious feelings will provide a sense of empowerment and ease the feeling of impending doom that anxiety tends creates.
So, next time you hear that sneaky siren calling you into the depths of anxiety, remember, it is only a trap. You have the power to ignore the call altogether or take the necessary steps to avoid the deceptive lure into the mind trap.
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