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Call or TEXT us at (541) 868-2004
for Portland, EugeneCorvallis & Bend Appointments
We still have telehealth-only sessions. Re-opening plans coming soon.
Your therapist will talk to you about in-office session availability after June 14th.
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Acknowledging the Hurt


Our practice acknowledges the hurtful impact that these last several months have had on our community. The ongoing experiences of systemic racism, violence, oppression, fear, illness, financial and democratic insecurity impact us all, but none more than Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Words aren't enough to express the hurt and trauma being experienced. This past weekend, our clinical staff participated in diversity training sessions and we look forward to continuing our internal education and expanding upon our dialogue of understanding. We don't have all the answers but we strive to do all we can to foster inclusivity and help others as we take a hard look at what we can do to better support vulnerable and oppressed people in our community. 

We so appreciate every one of our clients and team members, especially during these last few months. 

Above all, we are always hear to listen and acknowledge the seriousness of what our friends and neighbors in the community are experiencing. You all matter to us and we thank you for the trust you have placed in us.


 

From our Entire Staff
Oregon Counseling & Eugene Therapy
 

In this special issue:

Simple Ways to Fight Racism

-- Articles worth reading for ideas on what we can all do --

On the Spot Techniques: 

Managing Anxiety With Anna Gularte

 
When we find ourselves in the midst of swarming thoughts, increased heart rate, erratic breathing, and overwhelmed, it can be hard to recall our resources: the things we have experienced to be helpful. Each of us have different methods and techniques that resonate with us, and it is part of the process to see which ones are going to best aid us in our time of need. With that in mind, I would like to offer some possible options for how to interact with our anxiety when we find ourselves in a panic.

After you read each one, I encourage you to practice it. Notice how your body, mind, emotions, and/or spirit respond to the exercise. I encourage you to try when you are feeling less anxious so that the stakes are not as high and you have a sense of whether it is a good match for you. By using these in less tense moments, we might be setting ourselves up to be less anxious in the future. As always, give yourself compassion as you learn what works best for you. If you feel more comfortable exploring these with your therapist, they’d love to hear that!


Noticing and accepting

Noticing that we are anxious can be an important first step to accepting that we are anxious. We may wish to feel another emotion instead or may have a hard time allowing ourselves to have anxiety. When we recognize it for what it is, we can approach anxiety from a more informed lens and create more understanding of what our unique needs might be in that moment, often starting with the breath.


Breathing

Even though we are doing it all the time, we rarely turn our attention to our breath. Notice where you feel your breath in your body: your upper chest, your belly, your back, your nostrils. When we breathe in we activate, and when we breathe out we calm. If you are mostly breathing in your upper chest, gently encourage your breath to go lower. By doing this, your lungs are reminded that they have space and it can allow us a feeling of wholeness. Even one or two minutes can have a positive effect.


Talking to yourself or journaling

When we are swimming in the context of our minds, we do not have the filter or language to organize our thoughts. For instance, sometimes we say things out loud that made sense in our heads, but sound very different out loud. Although it may sound silly, talking out loud to yourself like you are talking to a friend can be grounding. Imagine a friend is feeling how you are feeling, what would you say to them? This translates well into talking to a comfortable friend or therapist about what you would say.

If you would rather not talk to another person or talk out loud, journaling can serve the same purpose of noticing your feelings, accepting you are anxious, and writing about what you are feeling. A journal prompt you can do when you are not feeling anxious is to write an encouraging letter to yourself for when you are anxious and what your anxious self might consider doing to calm down.


5-4-3-2-1

This technique involves rooting yourself into the present. We are often anxious about things that are not in our current environment and need to remind ourselves where we are. This technique can be done silently, verbally, or through journaling. Name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. If you cannot sense something within a category, imagine them: for instance, the smell of an apple when you first bite it. Click for a video about doing this grounding technique:


As mentioned above, the more you practice the more you will find these tools accessible in the moment. I hope some of these resulted in you feeling a bit calmer and grounded. If not, there are many others! There is value in simply spending time on yourself and sitting with your emotions.
 
-- We're pleased that Anna Gularte will be graduating this month and staying on with Eugene Therapy as a staff clinician --

Finding Focus in a Time of Distraction

It’s well known that distractions and disruptions to routine can interfere with your focus—but it’s rare that we have to deal with massive distractions on a global scale. COVID-19 has disrupted the way we live our lives, and it’s a distraction that has gone on for many weeks. If you’re struggling to keep your attention where it needs to be during this time, you’re not alone. Many people are reporting difficulty finding and keeping their focus right now.

Although what you’re experiencing is normal, it isn’t convenient. Try these tips to find and increase your focus during this unprecedented time of distraction.
 

Exercise in Bursts

Short bursts of activity can help you to reset and clear your head. When you can’t seem to focus, try standing up and pacing, going for a quick walk or 10-minute bike ride, or pulling a few weeds in the garden.
 

Get Outside

Time in nature has been proven to soothe anxiety and help you focus more effectively. Aim to get outside for at least a few minutes every day, no matter what the weather, and enjoy whatever nature has to offer.
 

Take Time to Relax

Sometimes the more you to try to focus on something, the more your mind wanders. Counterintuitively, stepping away from a project and allowing yourself to relax can make you much more productive when you come back to your task.
 

Be Present

Mindfulness is a powerful tool to increase attention. If you find your thoughts flying off in different directions, acknowledge the distraction, then gently bring yourself back to where you are and what you’re doing in this moment.


Use Positive Self-Talk

Be your own coach and motivate yourself with encouraging words. Things like, “It will feel so good to finish this,” or “I made good progress today,” can help you to focus on the rewarding aspects of paying attention and working towards your goals.


Break it Down

It can be helpful to break down a task into smaller increments, or to work on it for short periods of time interspersed with breaks. Rather than deciding to finish a project by the end of the week, decide you’ll work on it for two hours each day, in four half-hour sessions.


Find an Accountability Partner

It can be hard to stay focused and motivated if no one else knows how you’re doing. Find someone to check in with each day about what you’re accomplishing. You can cheer each other on, provide support, and be accountable to each other.

Finding focus in a time of global distraction isn’t easy, but there are things you can do to boost your attention and productivity, even during COVID-19. By doing the best you can in a tough situation, and taking it one day and one task at a time, you can find and maintain focus and accomplish what you need to do, no matter what distractions or disruptions try to derail you.

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Developing Resilience in a Time of Change

 
 
Do you know someone who seems to cope better with change than other people? Somehow, this person embraces change while others fight it, sees possibilities where others see only problems, and remains cheerful and optimistic even in the face of uncertainty. This isn’t necessarily just down to personality. People who can do this have developed a skill: resilience. And the good news is that, because it’s a skill, you can develop it also. There are many ways to strengthen your ability to cope. Here, we’ll outline just a few ways that can help you develop resilience in a time of change. 
 

Alter the Narrative

What we tell ourselves about a situation has a huge impact on how we see and handle it. Very few circumstances are completely negative. In fact, there is a point at which negativity is just not an accurate reflection of circumstances. You can think about it as practicing seeing the positive and building your confidence by using positive self-talk, but you can also look at it as simply being more accurate with your thoughts. For example, instead of, “This is too hard. I can’t do it,” try something like, “This is certainly a challenge. What strengths and resources can I use to help me resolve it? Is this similar to other challenges I have lived through in the past?” 
 

Learn to Ask for and Give Support

Part of developing resilience is learning to draw on the strength of others when we need it. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to others. They care about you and want to see you succeed. This also lets your friends and loved ones know that they don’t need to be ashamed of their problems either, and can turn to you for support. By strengthening one another, we become stronger and more resilient ourselves. 
 

Take Care of Your Health

Resilience is multi-faceted, and it’s important to realize that your health—both mental and physical—has an influence on your ability to bounce back. Practice good self-care, including regular exercise, a healthy diet, enough sleep, and stress-management or mindfulness techniques. Nurturing yourself allows you to build up strength reserves that can help you to be resilient when times get tough. 
 

Choose to Act

Sometimes change can feel overwhelming, and this immobilizes us. You can develop greater resilience by pushing through that paralysis. Focus on what you can control, however small or large it is, and choose to act so that you can influence that particular aspect of the situation. Doing this gives you a feeling of empowerment and greater ability to cope with and recover from challenges.

Developing resilience in a time of change requires dedicated focus, but it’s well worth the effort. As you take steps to increase your resilience, you’ll begin to develop a more positive outlook, recover more quickly from setbacks, and become a source of strength to yourself and others.

 

 Living Through a Pandemic is Trauma


 

Living through a pandemic is causing stress, anxiety, fear, and grief for many. But can living through a pandemic actually be traumatic?

Depending on a person’s overall mental health and past experiences, yes, living through a pandemic can be a trauma. While many people are likely to adjust and bounce back fairly quickly from this experience, others may struggle to cope with the emotions caused by COVID-19, both during and after the pandemic.
 

Who is Most at Risk?

While anyone can be traumatized by living through a pandemic, there are some groups that are more at risk than others. These include:

Those who have lost a loved one. Whether to COVID-19 or some other cause, losing a close friend or family member during a time of social distancing can be traumatic. Those who weren’t able to give the level of in-person care they wanted, or who couldn’t say goodbye, are more likely to deal with mental health repercussions such as PTSD after the pandemic.

Those diagnosed with COVID-19. Survivors of this virus have been faced with their own mortality: afraid for their lives and worried about what surviving family members would do without them. Intense fears like this can be hard to recover from, even when the danger has passed.

Those impacted economically. Being able to provide the necessities of life for yourself and your family is important to your mental well-being. Those who were hardest hit by the economic impacts of the pandemic may have a harder time than others feeling secure and stable after the worst of the crisis is over.

Essential workers. Those who have lost jobs may view essential workers as fortunate, but there are two sides to the story. Healthcare workers and others who work closely with those who are ill can experience trauma from losing patients. Essential workers in any field may have experienced increased job pressure on top of the fear of being exposed to the virus on a daily basis. High-pressure experiences like these can also be a form of trauma.
 

How Can I Minimize the Traumatic Effects of Living Through a Pandemic?

So, if living through a pandemic can be a trauma, how can you protect yourself? There are steps you can take now to minimize the traumatic effects of living through a pandemic, including:

  • Practice self-care. When it comes to your mental health, it’s important to be proactive. Don’t wait until things have calmed down to take time for yourself. Instead, practice self-care every day to build your resiliency.
  • Stay connected. Knowing others are in this with you and being able to support each other in difficult times can help to stave off feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • Limit your news intake. Yes, you want to stay informed, but too much news can cause a downward spiral in your emotions. Pick a time and a reliable news source, and once you’ve gotten the facts give your brain a chance to rest.
  • Seek professional help. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and counseling or therapy can be a powerful tool—both to build resiliency against trauma and to recover from it.
 
Yes, living through a pandemic can be a trauma, and some are more at risk than others. But a pandemic is a temporary situation. Know that it will end, and that in the meantime, there are things you can do to take care of your mental health and protect yourself against the traumatic effects of uncertain times.

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Preparing for Reopening: Ease Into It

 
 
As Oregon prepares to gradually lift lockdown after many weeks of stay at home orders and other restrictions, it’s important to know what to expect on an emotional and mental health basis. Although the lift of lockdown can feel like freedom, it’s also another change for your brain to deal with, and mental health repercussions are to be expected. By preparing for re-opening, you can develop realistic expectations that will allow you to make the adjustment more easily.


New Normal


Re-opening won’t mean that things go back to the way they used to be. Expect a new normal, with the possibility of continued social distancing, emphasis on sanitation, and other restrictions as individuals and communities learn how to re-enter the world post-pandemic. Take confidence in the fact that you’ve already adjusted to a new normal once, and you can do it again.


Trauma Symptoms


While many of us associate the word “trauma” with a single dramatic event, people can also experience trauma symptoms from prolonged stress—something that has become common during COVID-19. It’s expected that a significant portion of the population will experience anxiety, depression, or other post-traumatic stress symptoms after the lift of lockdown. Be on the alert for these types of symptoms in yourself or loved ones, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if needed.


Fear and Anxiety


After re-opening, many people will find themselves in closer proximity to others for the first time in weeks. The message of social distancing has been emphasized long enough that being around others may initially cause some anxiety. It’s advisable to continue precautions like wearing a mask or increasing personal distance, both for your physical health and for greater ease of mind.

For some of us, the prospect of re-entry is anxiety provoking. What if it's not safe? What if these gatherings make me sick? What if people don't follow reasonable guidelines?


Acceptance


Remember, life is not risk free. You can't control others' behavior, but you can control your responses. Resist the urge to judge others' decisions around re-entry and develop compassion. Complaining about other people not complying with safety guidelines is bound to make you feel worse. Remind yourself that everyone is doing the best they can and people bring their own personal values into these type of decisions. That said, it's also okay to maintain a tight circle of people and connect yourself with like-minded folks who help you feel positive and supported.


Go Slowly & Be Direct


Consider a gradual re-entry. There is no need to dive into the deep end of the pool. Starting with a socially distanced walk or outdoor gatherings with trusted friends can help. Feel free to continue the behaviors you can control, like hand-washing, distancing and wearing a mask. It's okay to maintain your own safety rules, even if others don't. It's also okay to set boundaries in your home. If you have visitors, rather than spending time wondering if they are going to follow your preferred guidelines in your home, ask them to do so. Be kind, but be clear.


Be Patient with Yourself


Experts in re-entry for trauma survivors remind us to be kind and patient with ourselves. Exposure is the key to overcoming anxiety, but it can come gradually, with practice and acceptance of the emotional ups and downs that are bound to accompany re-entry.
 

Economic Impacts


COVID-19 has had a significant impact on economies around the world, as well as financial impacts for individuals and families. It’s possible that these effects may become more pronounced over the coming months as businesses try to re-open, job searches begin in earnest, and grace periods for rent and other payments ends. By doing your best to prepare for these repercussions now, you can be ready to make wise financial choices post-lockdown.

Re-opening may be a challenge, but you can prepare yourself to handle it effectively by learning what to expect and making a plan to deal with potential changes and mental health effects. If you need help, get in touch with one of our licensed counselors or therapists. As always, we’re to help support you in your efforts to live a healthy, happy life—in every circumstance.

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Call or TEXT us at (541) 868-2004
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