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Video Telehealth Appointments Available 

Call or TEXT us at (541) 868-2004
for Portland, EugeneCorvallis & Bend Appointments

 

Stay Connected


We are in our fourth week of exclusively providing video telehealth counseling and psychiatric services. It's been a whirlwind but we are so pleased and thankful with how clients, staff and clinicians alike have adjusted to the change. Our clinicians are determined to build deep, helpful connections -- even in this medium. Thank you for doing your part to make our communities safer through physical distancing. We look forward to seeing you again as soon as possible!




 
Marc Zola, LMFT & LPC
Founding Director
Oregon Counseling & Eugene Therapy

In this special issue:

 Could the Discomfort You're Feeling be Grief?

We are all feeling it: The stress, anxiety, worry—these are the emotions we expect to deal with when it comes to COVID-19. But another common reaction—which has come as a surprise to many—is grief. In some ways, we are already in the process of grieving the loss of normalcy, the loss of connection, the loss of physical safety. The following is a summary of a recent article by Scott Berinato. It's been helpful to our team and our families and is worth reading and passing on.


What are we grieving?

While each person’s individual circumstances are different, we are all experiencing a loss of normalcy, a loss of connection, and a sense that the world will be changed after an experience like this. We’re grieving the way things used to be, and perhaps the way things could have been if a global pandemic hadn’t interrupted our way of life. Many of us may also be experiencing anticipatory grief—a sadness that comes from contemplating an uncertain future, or from thinking about something we know we’ll lose someday.
 

The stages of grief

As you go through the grieving process, it’s helpful to understand the stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, acceptance, and meaning. These stages may happen in a different order for different people, but recognizing what stage of grief you’re in and trying to find meaning in your emotions and experiences can help you to manage what you’re feeling.
 

How can we manage our grief?

Mindfulness techniques are particularly useful for dealing with anticipatory grief. By keeping you centered in the present they can help you prevent yourself from grieving things that haven’t yet happened and may never happen. Focus on your breath and recognize the reality of things as they are in this moment. Even mentally describing objects in your home or reminding yourself that in this moment you are well, sheltered, and fed can mitigate the intensity of your grief.

Be patient and compassionate with yourself and those around you. Everyone grieves differently, and everyone is trying to cope with a very stressful and frightening time. It’s okay if you, your coworkers, or your family members aren’t at their best right now. Recognize that when you or someone else acts in a way that isn’t typical, it’s a manifestation of grief and fear, not who you or they truly are as a person.

Focusing on what you can control (washing your hands, maintaining appropriate social distance, etc.) and letting go of what you can’t control (other people’s actions and emotions) can give you a sense of empowerment and calm to take the place of grief and anxiety.

Although it’s difficult, accept the open-ended nature of things at this time. We don’t know when this crisis will end, but we know it will. Looking back at our history, whether global, national, or personal, teaches us that crises are temporary. Sometimes it helps to take a moment to remind yourself that this won’t last forever, and you will get through it.
 

Moving through grief

Remember, you have to feel and accept your emotions in order to move through them. Although grief may be an unexpected reaction to COVID-19, it’s completely natural, and you’re not alone in what you’re feeling. Recognize your grief, accept it, learn from it, and continue to move forward, knowing that this is a temporary situation and that your grief will eventually pass.

If you need help coping with your grief during this time, there is support available. Our counselors and therapists are offering video telehealth services so that we can safely help you during this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you feel you need it.


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Stay at Home Activity for Kids: Scavenger Hunt

This is an activity encouraged by one of our play therapists, Wendy Nims, LCSW. It's a great way to keep kids engaged and energized while at home. 


For more great ideas for supporting kids through this crisis, check out the Covid-19 Time Capsule.
 

 How to Stay Mentally Healthy During COVID-19


The science is in, mental health and physical health are connected. Here are some simple steps we can all take every day to help us through the COVID 19 situation. 


Dealing with Difficult Feelings When They Arise

Lots of us are scared, sometimes we might feel angry. The risks and dangers are real right now. It’s okay to feel that way. It’s important to allow ourselves to feel our feelings about this situation. 

  • When we do it helps to pay particular attention to how our body is feeling: 

    • do you feel the feeling in your stomach? 

    • in your chest? 

    • if feeling had a color what would it be? 

    • if the feeling had a shape what would that be?

  • Having a good cry is healthy and helpful. 

  • Talking through our fears with friends and loved ones is also healthy and helpful.

  • Reach out to an online counselor if needed. 

 

Allowing a Break from Difficult Feelings is Essential

It’s important not to allow ourselves to spend all day every day in these negative feelings. Here are some options to give ourselves a break from them:

  • Minimize news intake to 30 minutes to 1 hour per day.

We all need to stay informed but let’s use reliable websites which do not sensationalize things, and we shouldn’t spend too long on them.

  • Pay attention to positive news sites and online resources:

  • Writing down three things we are grateful for Every. Single. Day. Or saying them aloud to another human is a proven way of increasing mental health and wellness. Taking this five minutes a day helps remedy the negative effect of the constant stream of information we are receiving. This is also a great skill to teach children. 

  • Helping others makes us feel good and makes them feel good. Us humans can do marvelous things when we work together. Find people who are vulnerable or isolated and offer support, it could be practical or emotional:

    • talking on the phone

    • a safe run to the grocery store

    • a letter mailed to a senior’s home

    • make a cheerful or funny video for loved ones who are far away

  • Try to focus on getting through one day at a time and the things you can actually control.


Staying Positive 

Endorphins, dopamine and serotonin are our happy neurotransmitters and we want them working for us right now.

  • Laugh as much as possible; watch and listen to comedies. Even a fake laugh will give us a little boost.

  • Exercise is a quick way to flood our body with good feelings and keep us healthy. 

  • Connect with friends and family. Lucky us, we can stay connected even when social distancing prevents us from physically being with our loved ones. Connect often with apps like FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, or even pick up an old-fashioned telephone.

  • When we do see other people in person, we can still look them in the eye and smile, even though we can’t get physically close. 

  • Take a moment longer than usual to really notice and savor little things you enjoy, tastes, sights, smells, and sensations.

 

Routine and Goals

Us humans thrive when we have a routine and short, medium and long-term achievable goals. COVID-19 has really messed with that for most of us! It’s time to make new, temporary routines and goals. 

  • Try to get up and go to bed at around the same time everyday. Eat meals at regular times (and pay attention to enjoying the taste!). If working from home keep regular work hours. 

  • Incorporate exercise every day, preferably a walk outside (being careful to adhere to social distancing guidelines). Fresh air and exercise are easy ways to get our happy neurotransmitters working for us. 

For many of us normal work and school are suspended so now it’s time to find some new short-term goals that we haven’t had time for before. 

  • Always wanted to learn how to sing? Play a musical instrument? Paint? Write? There are so many online resources for learning new skills. Pick one and start a course, spending some time every day enjoying it. 

  • Maybe there’s some tasks around the home that usually there’s no time for:

    • Marie Kondo-ing that cupboard that’s in chaos

    • putting in a flower bed in the yard, planning a vegetable garden

    • decorating a room or a wall

    • rearranging the furniture

    • spring cleaning

    • finishing that DIY project

For those of us with children we so often rush around in our day-to-day lives and miss precious time with them. Here’s our opportunity:

  • Play that game with the kids that there’s never normally time for

  • Teach the kids some skills around the home e.g. baking, lighting a fire, grooming the pets

  • Read together

  • Look at family photos together


A Few More Notes About Our Bodies

  • Pay attention to the breath. Many of us breathe in ways that negatively affect our health when we are stressed. 

    • Take time each day to focus on nice long deep breaths, filling all parts of the lungs and then emptying them completely. 

    • Sometimes it helps to imagine oxygen coming into your body from the trees and nourishing you, and then giving back the carbon dioxide as a gift to keep the trees healthy on the out breath. 

  • Sleep. Get the best sleep possible. As you know decent sleep is essential for mental and physical health. For great tips to improve your sleep, head to https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips

  • Remedy for panic symptoms (heart racing, stomach in knots, sweating, shaking, shallow short breaths, panicked thoughts that won’t go away). 

    • Try breathing in for a count of 3 and out for a count of 7 until the body feels calmer. 

    • Breathing in and out of one nostril at a time (with a finger closing the other), can work well for panic symptoms.

  • If you are experiencing lots of fear and anxiety minimize caffeine. Caffeine mimics the effects of the fight or flight response, which drives our anxiety (and our anger).

  • Meditation is a great skill to learn while we have extra time on our hands. There is mounting evidence that it improves physical and mental health.

    • Apps like Headspace and Insight Timer are great resources. 

    • Lots of free meditations are also available on YouTube.

Use this time as an opportunity to 'reset' and always remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself a break. You don't have to be perfect to get through this. You just have to be you!

Our thanks to by Dr. Helen Peel for sharing this information


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Anxiety Management during COVID-19

How our clinicians are coping at home and how you can too

 


What's Working? We asked our clinicians to let us know a few things they and their families are doing at home that is helping them cope. Here is some sharing and tips for you!

 

What are you doing at home to cope with isolation, physical distancing and anxiety?


Ideas for Adults

  • I remind myself that even though I am alone, I am not IN THIS alone. I think of all the other people I know who are struggling with the physical isolation and pay close attention to my mind. If I feel lonely or sad and those thoughts begin to drift into a place of questioning my own worth, I practice 'mentalizing' or noticing what I feel and why I feel it. This provides me with the information I need to better regulate, or simply tolerate, intense feelings. Even though we are physically alone for good reasons (flattening the curve), our minds might play tricks on us and tell us we're to blame for being alone. The slippery slope of going from feeling bad to blaming ourselves for feeling bad, is worth looking out for because this forced isolation certainly isn't your fault or my fault. It is just a problem without a bad guy/gal!

 
  • Getting sick made it easier for me to naturally social distance as I didn't want to be around anyone and quickly understood the gravity of the situation. Scheduled and regular video chats with friends and family. Limiting my time looking at the news only checking morning and night to see what I need to know. Getting to do all the things on my to do list that get pushed to low priority; going outside to be in the sun when it's out. When I get up I still do my morning routine to get dressed, eat, etc; having a separate area that is for work to keep my 'homelife' separate. Taking drives to see new scenery without getting out of the car (different than going to the store). Only one person in our home is going out to get supplies. Looking at this as a positive experience 'what I can and get to do'. Playing board games, doing puzzles etc. Home improvement projects; watching movies--throwbacks are the best; family and friends have been sending throwback pictures which has been fun to reminisce; writing letters to elderly and shut ins along w/ thanking front line workers. Attending live stream religious, cultural and social event. Journaling about the event so I can look back on this time in the future (historical reference). Reading, crafting -- my daughter and I learned how to finger weave!

 
  • Walks with friends around the neighborhood, 6 feet apart. Video chat with family. Watching something funny at the end of the day. Getting good sleep. Consolidating "being informed" time to a limited number of instances and duration per day, and to be thoughtful about when and how it is being used (how it affects you emotionally). Do some of those home projects you've putting off to the extent it works for your family. :)

 
  • I am trying to see this time as an opportunity to work on and focus on things I would like to have grown in by the time this is over. I am maintaining connection through live stream classes I would normally attend with my community. I am finding encouragement from those who are using their gifts and abilities to make this time a little easier for others through sharing art, music, or literature online.

 
  • My wife and I make time for a one hour walk as many days in the week as possible. We've even been doing so when it's raining. While it's not exactly our normal level of physical activity, I am finding that it serves to make enough space in my brain to feel at least more relaxed than I may have been throughout the day as I'm talking with clients repeatedly about the stressors we're all dealing with.

 
  • Virtual calls using a variety of apps. Phone calls and texts. Family/friend virtual gatherings. Limiting consumption of news and other media. Getting outside for walks or to garden. Reading, puzzles, cooking, snuggling and doing things with my in house family. Meditation, visualization, mindfulness. Gratitude expression and prayer. Accepting my feelings as they come and go.

 
  • Having at least one scheduled thing per day is really helpful! For me, I've set up a 7pm virtual movie night with friends that we do three times a week. I also find it helpful to still get dressed as if I was still going to work; it gets me in the mindset of productivity.

 
  • Recognizing my emotions as valid without comparing to others. Allowing myself to appreciate what I had before while also grieving. Noticing kindness and sharing gratitude. Been trying to make a schedule and do small workouts throughout the day.

 
  • Self-care practices (watching favorite shows/movies, reading, artwork etc.) Exercise (at home workouts or going for a walk) Social connection (facetiming / texting friends and family) Maintaining a routine/structure.

 
  • Focusing on the importance of relationships new and old. Going back to old behaviors before technology. Laughing a lot. Trying to look for the silver lining. Being grateful. Back to the basics.

 
  • Creating a schedule Spending time outside in nature, when possible Spending time doing fun activities Connecting with friends and family via text or video.

 
  • Maintaining some routine. Experimenting with new recipes. Giving each other breaks away from the kids.


Ideas for Teens

  • We are talking about how to best support our teens within the context of our family's home life. Us parents are talking about remembering things that we want to do with our teens and never have time for. And now since we all do have more time, we are pursuing bonding projects with our teens.

 
  • Maintaining social connection with friends (texting, facetiming) Getting outside Having a balance of privacy (alone time) and time with family/siblings self-care (reading, video games etc.).

 
  • Structure and connect w/ friends over video chat; hobbies to do at home; get physical exercise; participate in the online learning tools teachers send out.

 
  • Creating a schedule; though as a guideline rather than rigidly. Spending time outside in nature, when possible Spending time doing fun activities. Connecting with friends and family via text or video


Ideas for Kids

  • My kiddos are doing lots of video chats w/ family and friends or connecting through video games to play each other. I've found this really helpful for the younger kids as they just talk and play alongside each other; getting into routine and structure -- I still make them 'get ready for school' and set up structured learning time; keep eating and bedtime routines; eat meals together; letter writing to shut ins, family, pen pal program; attend church/youth group virtually; learn new crafts; go outside to play when possible; read; family movie nights; baking; games; still follow rules setting limits about technology; we aren't talking about the news and what's going on but making them aware of what they need to know only answering questions when they ask; they know it's more than just them and we talk about the frontline workers to appreciate them; I think it also helped them understand because I have been sick that they 'see' what is going on and we were already taking measures anyway.

 
  • Virtual play dates, age appropriate explanations and media, keeping/having a routine (with some flexibility), keeping expectations similar as possible regarding chores. Ensuring physical activity daily (walks, bike rides, backyard play, go noodle, etc.), reading, growth mindset, educational screen time, limiting news, talking about anxiety and reality checking personal safety concerns, meditation. Gratitude focus, involvement in religious or cultural practices.

 
  • Adults with kids are feeling challenges at some times and at others they are really impressed with the resilience their kiddos are displaying. Homeschooling is probably the biggest challenge for parents right now because it is often not their forte and they aren't getting any breaks. So again, focusing on how the client/parent can carve out even a small amount of space for themselves.

 
  • Sticking (loosely) to a regular school schedule. Getting outside, bike rides, walks, playing in the yard, learning about nature. Reading, listening to audiobooks. Video chatting with grandparents and other family. Talking about their feelings about being away from school and friends. Writing letters/cards to friends/family. Art projects.

 
  • Face time with loved ones. Recreating (with imagination or art) the things we miss. Going for drives so that they can see that the world and the things they love are still there and will be when this ends. Picnics and baking together Write and mail letters or drawings to friends.

 
  • Per some client's reports: Maintaining a structure/routine. Scheduling out an hour of movement/exercise/play. Engaging in family activities: games, movies, themed dinners, dress up/fashion show, creativity activities (artwork).

 
  • Getting out for walk or just to play in the yard. Maintaining their routine as much as possible. Explaining what is going on in a way that helps them understand why things are closed without making them overly fearful.


Ideas for Couples

  • Do your own thing to give yourself space and then have time when you can spend together. Have your separate areas to work and set up a schedule so you have 'work' and 'home' time. Share responsibilities and coordinate. Set up video chats together w/ friends. Talk about the anxiety when needed. Reach out for help when you need it. Learn something new together. Find ways to do something for someone else in need. Limit social media and outside sources so you don't keep sharing and building on each other's anxieties. Appreciate the different ways people cope to maintain realistic expectations.

 
  • Identify early on when a couple needs breaks, identifying those small clues initially that help you respond earlier to meeting your needs to step outside, or to step away and read a book, etc. I encourage couples to help each other with this so that when they notice the other struggling, they can help them remember that their break time is in need of happening now.

 
  • It's normal to have a little bit more conflict during this time, since you may either be sharing more time/space with them than before, or the stress of COVID can have an impact on the relationship. Do your best to self-soothe before engaging in discussions with your partner: it'll make conversations more productive and help them understand where you're coming from.

 
  • Try to give each other grace around stress reactions, like irritability. Exercise and have time to yourself and offer opportunities for your spouse/partner to do the same. Talk about things you both appreciate in your lives, despite everything going on. Set the bar a little lower together around what you expect from your kids during this time.

 
  • Have clear discussions around boundaries (alone time vs. spending time together) finding new activities that you can enjoy together and that act as a distraction. Do weekly or daily check-ins around how each person is coping and/or struggling with anxiety, depression etc. Assist each other in challenging worst-case scenario thinking.

 
  • Mindfulness has been helpful, taking time to be quiet together. Making a routine and debriefing the day. Having an ongoing project like a puzzle, chess game, card tournament, video game.

 
  • Talk. Talk about your needs, wants, feelings. Re-evaluate chores/expectations/household tasks. Listen without judgment or interrupting. Take time to be together mindfully.

Have a tip for how to best manage during the current stay at home order?
Send it in to us at hello@oregoncounseling.com or hello@eugenetherapy.com.

Be well!

 
 
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Video Telehealth Appointments Available 

Call or TEXT us at (541) 868-2004
for Portland, EugeneCorvallis & Bend Appointments

 
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