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The Election & Your Mental Health


Election 2020
 
It's been a long few days with the presidential election and votes still being counted. With the process being drawn out, it's normal for people to be experiencing heightened anxiety at this time. 

As we await the outcome, it's especially important to be paying attention to our mental health. Focus on finding calm in the midst of chaos and taking care of yourself. Be sure to provide yourself with the rest and self-compassion you need during times like these.

Here are some important reminders:
  • Take social media and news coverage breaks as needed.
  • Do something you enjoy -- listen to music, put on your favorite show, work out, meditate, or cook your favorite meal.
  • Prioritize your basic needs -- eating well, drinking water and getting enough sleep.
  • Spend time with people who make you feel loved and safe.
  • Set boundaries if you need to take a break from talking about politics.
At Eugene Therapy & Oregon Counseling, we want to let you know that we are here to provide support if you would like someone to talk to during this time. You can schedule an appointment with one of our therapists today.

In this issue:

Preparing for a Pandemic Winter


 

The winter months are already tough for a lot of people. With cold weather, we experience less sunlight and more time indoors than the rest of the year. Many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a depression that occurs in the winter months that’s characterized by low energy, feeling bleak and losing interest in daily activities. Living through a pandemic during the wintertime adds a new layer of dread for this upcoming season. It’s going to make it a lot more difficult to socialize outdoors, adding to the loneliness of the situation.

This Vox article explains how we can generate more positive feelings about the current situation: by shifting our focus outward. By directing the attention off of ourselves, we’re able to take on a greater perspective and focus on the things around us that make us feel fulfilled. There’s three practices that can help us focus on something outside of ourselves:

 

A Sense of Social Connectedness

There is a lot of psychological research that supports the idea that social connectedness is one of the keys to happiness. Having strong social connections boosts our mental health and has shown to contribute to increased physical health. While socialization during the pandemic is more complicated, we can still find creative ways to connect with others. One technique that’s been largely adopted in Canada and New Zealand is the “double bubble.” This is where two households make a pact to hang out with each other, as long as they are distanced from everyone else. 

Another type of social connection that can bring us joy is doing kind acts for others. We can practice acts of kindness while still keeping our distance too, whether that’s picking up groceries for an older neighbor or donating to a charity that is meaningful to us. Giving back brings us social connectedness and is a great way to go beyond ourselves for joy.

 

A Sense of Purpose

Having a sense of purpose can help us to cope with isolation. Even in the gloomiest of times, people who have a sense of purpose have something to hold onto and guide them through it. Your sense of purpose could be simple, like caring for your pet, volunteering for a cause you care about or writing letters back and forth to a friend.

 

A Sense of Inspiration

We can increase our sense of inspiration by regularly feeling gratitude. Remembering that we have others to lean on and that we aren’t alone can significantly reduce our stress and inspire us to give thanks for those around us. Practicing gratitude journaling helps with this. It helps to especially focus on the people we are grateful for, rather than superficial things. (You can see a trend here about just how important connection with others is). 

Another way to gain inspiration is to find things that bring us curiosity or awe in our daily life. Finding joy in even the most ordinary things, like in the path you walk near your home each day or the way a home-cooked meal tastes when you put all the ingredients together, can increase our emotional wellbeing. 

 

When the winter season fully sets in this year, shifting our focus outward is a useful tool to cope with the bleak weather and ongoing pandemic. Transferring our energy away from ourselves and towards the people and simple things we care about can bring us joy even in the darkest of months. This type of mindset will make us more resilient through it all.

 

Other Helpful Articles


Tips for Wintertime Self-Care
Seasonal Affective Disorder

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How to Address Conflict in Your Relationship

 

Relationships and COVID-19

Conflict is normal in any relationship. However, the pandemic has presented its own unique challenges for couples. The many big changes this year have provoked new types of anxiety and friction in relationships. 

Almost every aspect of our regular lives has been flipped upside down. People have been pulled away from their social lives and leisure activities. Work from home has become the norm. Businesses have closed and jobs have been lost. Most kids have transitioned to all online schooling. This pandemic is a major external stressor, which can, “produce conflict, anxiety, lack of alone time for couples, less intimacy, more loneliness, and for many couples, less relationship stability.” All of these challenges can take a toll on a relationship without effective ways to manage conflict.
 

5 Tips for Managing Relationship Conflict

The Gottman Institute provides tools for managing conflict in your relationship, so that your disagreements can be constructive, rather than hurtful to one another:
 

Soften Startup

The way that the beginning of a conversation goes can largely determine the tone for the rest of the discussion about the issue. In a healthy relationship, you should be able to say just about anything. But the way you say it matters greatly. Consider using a 'soft startup' to gently introduce topics or concerns that are likely to result in some level of disagreement. It's important that you are heard. It's also important that you and your partner each maximize the chances of feeling heard, by maintaining a kind, curious and patient tone, ata all times. 

 

Complain, But Don’t Blame

Instead of blatantly blaming or accusing your partner for something, simply state your complaint of what is bothering you. For example, instead of saying, “You never cleaned up the kitchen and it’s a mess,” you could say, “Hey, I noticed that the dishes aren’t cleaned and put away. We agreed that you’d help with it this time. This is upsetting to me and it would be helpful to discuss it."

 

Make “I” Statements instead of “You” Statements

Beginning sentences with “You” can put your partner in a defensive position because it can sound accusatory. Instead of saying, “You’re always distracted with work and you never listen to me,” you could say, “I feel like I’m not being heard or being made a priority when I try to tell you something important.”

It’s also good to avoid using the words “always” and “never” altogether when communicating with your partner. These extremes are rarely factual and can immediately put someone on the defensive. 

 

Be Polite and Appreciative

It’s important to be kind to one another, even in the heat of an argument. In the midst of conflict, you can still say kind words to each other and acknowledge the things you do appreciate that your partner does. 

 

Don’t Store Things Up

Sometimes things build up and we put them off to avoid confrontation. However, the longer we take storing things up, the more overwhelming it becomes. Try not to wait too long to bring up an issue. The sooner you discuss something that is bothering you, the more productive the conversation will be.


If a conflict arises in your relationship, these tips can help make it a more productive discussion. This is a strange and difficult time for many. It's okay to acknowledge that COVID-19 has made a lot of things more complicated. Especially now, it helps to be honest and vulnerable with your partner about the difficulties you may be facing right now. Communicating concerns you have with your partner in an effective way will ensure that you maintain a happy and loving relationship.
 

Other Helpful Articles


COVID-19 and Relationships
6 Tips for Managing Couples Conflict
How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationship
Tips for Saving Your Relationship

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 The G.R.A.C.E. Meditation Practice 

This is an incredibly tense and divided time. Take 12 minutes out of your day to try this Mindful Live guided meditation to "gather your attention, and consider what would really serve you, your self-care, and your capacity for resilience." Meditation can help us slow down and ease anxiety by taking a break to fully exist in the present. 

Check out the video to follow along with the guided meditation or follow the G.R.A.C.E. steps here:
 

G Stands for Gathering Attention


Take a moment to gather your attention by focusing on the sound of your breath or a surrounding object-- anything that will gather your attention in one place.

 

R Stands for Recalling Intention


Next, remember your intention for why you're here today. It could be to practice self-care or become more resilient. Our intentions are gifts for ourselves. So once you recall it, let it go. 

 

A Stands for Attuning to Self and Others


Attune yourself by doing a brief full body scan and checking in with your body. Notice any particular sensations you're experiencing. Then, think about attuning to others. Bring awareness of our interconnectedness into the space.

 

C Stands for Considering What Would Serve


Now take a moment to consider what would serve you, your self-care and your capacity for resilience. What do you need to make you feel more at peace?

 

E Stands for Ethical Ending and Engagement


Finally, choose one wise action you can take for yourself. Consider the next step for you. Take a deep breath in and out, begin to feel your feet on the floor, then, when you're ready, slowly open your eyes. 
 

Other Helpful Articles


How to Meditate (and Why You Should)
Spiritual Self-Care: Self-Care Series (Part 3)

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 From the Blog
 

          
5 Signs You Could Benefit From Therapy            10 Tips to Overcome Self-Doubt

          
Emotional Self-Care: Self-Care Series               5 Misconceptions About Depression

Licensed Clinicians Wanted

We have a limited number of openings for licensed clinicians


Our practice provides outstanding clinicians with a time-tested blend of clinical autonomy along with career development opportunities and comprehensive administrative support. Interested?

We are currently hiring licensed clinicians who can work from any of our locations or can work 100% remotely. 

We are also hiring for a licensed clinician supervisor position as well.
 

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