We all feel anxious every once in a while, especially these days in the midst of the coronavirus global pandemic. Sometimes, though, you may end up in a situation that provokes severe symptoms of anxiety.
You may wish that you could make a quick exit, but that isn’t always possible. With each passing moment, you feel your heart beating faster. You feel queasy and uncomfortable, your palms are sweaty, and you’re experiencing shortness of breath.
What can you do when you encounter these situations? Are there any secrets to dealing with anxiety in the moment when it occurs?
Everyone’s methods for sitting with anxiety will be a little different, but there are a few helpful tactics that you can rely on.
Count Backwards to Feel Less Anxious
Sometimes, giving your brain something else to focus on is enough to lessen your anxiety. You can always try counting backward from ten.
Try to go through the numbers slowly and shift your concentration from whatever makes you feel anxious back to the counting process. This approach may not sound like a therapeutic technique, but you would be surprised at how effective it can be.
Slow Breathing and Mindfulness to Distract from Anxiety
You may find yourself in a situation where you cannot take your mind off what is happening around you. Trying to distract yourself by focusing on something else is risky or dangerous. But that does not mean you have to deal with high levels of anxiety with no remedy.
Instead, take slow, deep breaths—when we’re anxious, our breathing often becomes shallow and rapid. You may even realize that you were holding your breath.
Repeat a Mantra to Ground Yourself through Anxiety Symptoms
Keep a mantra in your back pocket to repeat to yourself when you are in an anxiety-inducing situation. It could be something uplifting like: “Keep your chin up.” It might be something more stoic like: “Just be.” Or maybe it’s something that reminds you to keep moving forward like: “This too shall pass.”
You can repeat this to yourself—in your thought or out loud—as many times as you need to. As you may notice, this has a grounding effect and makes you feel more calm and centered.
Note Your Triggers for Anxiety
While this may not help you in the moment anxiety happens, it will come in handy. When you’re in a situation that sends you reeling with anxiety symptoms, take a second to figure out what is setting you off.
Is it a particular person? Could it be the location? Is it one specific noise that reminds you of something else? Sometimes even familiar smells can trigger a vivid memory of a past situation that left us feeling hurt or traumatized, which can spark significant anxiety.
When you have a good idea of what triggers your anxiety, you can take steps to address this issue’s roots.
One thing that sets off anxiety for many people? Being unprepared and ending up in a situation they did not adequately plan for. If you find this happening to you frequently, it may be helpful to start making it a point to do a little more planning.
Maybe you need to purchase a notebook or planner to keep track of specific vital details. You could consider using a phone reminder or alarm clock to remind you of particular tasks that need doing so you’re not rushing around.
With some forethought, you’ll avoid plenty of anxiety-provoking situations just by being better prepared.
Anxiety Therapy Columbus Ohio
If you’re dealing with high levels of anxiety, you’re not alone. Rest assured, there is a path to healing. Talk therapy can help you process your anxiety and develop methods for managing your symptoms. Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy for those struggling with anxiety living in the state of Ohio. Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We can help you manage your anxiety.
It could be that you and your partner have been struggling for some time now. Perhaps, you always disagree and can’t see eye-to-eye. Or maybe the coronavirus pandemic, forcing you both to be home more, is bringing to light or emphasizing issues you didn’t realize were as bad as they are. Either way, the situation is putting a real strain on the relationship.
You both know you need help and that therapy is essential for getting that help. But getting to the therapist’s office just isn’t feasible right now as the world battles COVID-19.
That’s where online couples counseling comes in.
The technology isn’t new, as we’ve had video conferencing for quite some time now. But online therapy might be new to you and your partner.
Here are three tips to help you navigate online couples therapy at home, so you get the most out of the experience.
1. What to Do with the Kids During Your Online Couples Counseling Session
If you’re a parent, one significant concern is what to do with the kids when you and your partner are meeting with your therapist. Naturally, the session won’t be constructive if your children are present and can hear everything you say.
You and your partner need privacy to talk freely. Even if they are young infants, you don’t want to have to take care of a child while you’re focusing on therapy. There are lots of ideas, but here are a few:
- Have them in a nearby room with their favorite games and puzzles (either traditional or computer)
- Have them build a big fort that they can show you when you’re finished with your session
- Let them watch a video or listen to music (preferably with headphones) with some snacks (if they’re old enough)
- Schedule your session during nap time
- Try having a grandparent, aunt/uncle or babysitter entertain them on a zoom call in another room
- If they’re old enough, they could keep themselves busy in the house while you have your session in your car or yard
Also know that your therapist will be very understanding that an interruption from your child could happen. Just help them regroup and come back into the session as best you can.
2. How to Handle Pets During Your Couples Counseling Session Online
Pets are another variable to take into account when having an online couples counseling session. Thankfully, they’re more manageable than kids.
For example, you could get away with having your pet dog or cat present on the call. Pets can be a welcome distraction to the session. However, your pet parakeet might not be the best addition to the call. Perhaps you know your dog is too energetic, or your cat too destructive, to have them present during the session.
Consider putting pets in a separate room or outside, covering the birdcage, or putting your pets in their crates. Sweeten the deal with a treat!
When in doubt, if you know that your pet will be a distraction to the call, then it’s best not to have them with you.
3. Find the Best Setup for Your Online Therapy Session
If you’ve watched people do online video interviews, you’ll know there’s a broad spectrum of consideration when it comes to the setup. Some people have books or artwork in the background. Others have a blank white wall. Here are some thoughts:
- Try to have the call in a room and not outside. For one, you’ll want your privacy. Two, outside calls might get disrupted from the wind blowing in the microphone, sun in your eyes, glare on the screen, or changing weather. (The exception being as noted above if you’re looking for privacy that you can’t find in your house. Outdoors may be your best option.)
- If using wifi, have your device as close as possible to the router. This strategy will help with signal strength and image clarity.
- Use a computer or tablet device with a camera instead of a cell phone, so you can see yourself and your partner on the screen and the therapist more clearly.
- Try to keep the background neutral rather than cluttered or distracting.
Typically, therapy lasts for multiple sessions. So, for the first call, treat yourselves with kindness if things don’t go right the first time. You’ll get the hang of online counseling soon enough and find your own best practices to make it successful.
ONLINE COUPLES & MARRIAGE COUNSELING COLUMBUS OHIO
If it feels like your relationship is struggling or experiencing excess stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, and you decide you’re in need of online marriage counseling from Ohio-based couples therapists, please contact Blue Boat Counseling today. Our skilled marriage counselors can help you get started with online therapy. We’re here to help.
We’re conditioned to think that only when we’re able to check off countless impressive personal and professional successes could we possibly find happiness.
Sadly, though, quite the opposite is true. Chasing after these illusive monumental accomplishments only produces stress. Happiness eludes us. And worry about failing turns into anxiety, and even depression.
The problem lies in our focus.
We’re always looking toward the next day, the next week, the next year. Striving for the big break. Chasing after happiness. And hoping that someday our ship will come in.
But what if happiness is already part of your life? What if it’s all around you? And you just didn’t see it because you haven’t been present—here, in this very moment.
How the Little Joys of Life Can Help Your Conquer Stress and Anxiety
There are countless opportunities each day to find the little joys in life. The only thing it requires is being present and looking for them.
Here are some ideas:
Kick off each new day with something positive to beat anxiety
Most of us have personal experience with how starting our day affects the rest of it. When we wake up with a negative, agitated mood, often, the remainder of the day follows along in the same pattern. Unless something or someone snaps us out of it.
So, starting each day off with a positive attitude goes a long way. One of the easiest ways to bring a little joy into your life and benefit your well-being right from the start is to begin the morning with a smile or even a positive affirmation. Not only does it wonders for your body chemistry to make you feel good, but it’s also contagious. And it will set the tone to help you make the rest of the day more productive and happy.
Show kindness to yourself and others to lessen stress
Not all of us have the means and the time to pamper ourselves by going on a big vacation—perhaps to an exotic land or a paradise beach location. But we can all aim to seek out little joys by treating ourselves kindly.
What does that include? You may want to start by showing your body and mind some love. A little self care goes a long way. Eat healthy and nutritious foods, keep yourself hydrated, get enough restful sleep, and exercise regularly. Also, don’t stress yourself out with all the tasks you need to do, but rather give yourself a break and some breathing time—a 10-minute coffee break, a half-hour bubble bath, or kicking your feet up while listening to your favorite song.
And then extend that same consideration to other people in your life—be that your spouse, children, parents, friends, co-workers, or even a complete stranger! Small acts of kindness and empathy toward others lead to big rewards of happiness and satisfaction for yourself.
Have fun, play, and enjoy your environment to reduce anxiety & stress
That being said (the previous point), why not take it a little further with acts of kindness and relating to others? Social connections are well known to boost happiness and overall well-being. Not only does happiness rub off, but it also flourishes more freely when we are in a group.
Think about little ways you could have fun every day. Spending time with family or friends watching a funny movie or playing a silly game. It’d be impossible not to laugh! And once the laughter starts, it’ll be hard not to be affected by it and join in. Aside from giving you pleasure, laughing also helps your creativity to flow more freely.
Plus, play often includes enjoying your environment. For example, getting outside for a walk, a bike ride, or a friendly game of catch, etc., helps to not only make your body healthier but your outlook as well.
Reflect on every little good thing with gratitude
Life is an accumulation of many small aspects. However difficult life may get, everyone has something they can be grateful for—no matter how small. Reflecting on these little moments of gratitude with thankfulness helps us to be centered and present. The great thing is, we can do it before we rise each day, after we’ve gone to bed, or anytime in between.
So, close your eyes for a moment and think about that one good thing. Perhaps you were able to get up this morning with fewer aches and pains, you savored your favorite meal, your baby just took their first step, you received a sweet text from one of your loved ones, you enjoyed a cool dip in a lake on a hot day, your boss thanked you for helping out with a work task, you found the first spring flowers coming out in your garden… the list is endless!
When you allow yourself to be joyful and grateful over the things you may often take for granted, a permanent feeling of happiness is inevitable.
Practice being mindful every day to ward off anxiety
In many people’s minds mindfulness is often connected to mediation and breathing exercises. While that may be true to some extent, practicing mindfulness also includes opening our hearts to positive and loving emotions. Plus, being mindful every day simply means to enjoy the moment, fully live it, and indulge in it.
Worrying about the past or future is a waste of time and depressing. But when you learn to focus on living with presence, experiencing each moment of life with full awareness, you can beat stress and anxiety. And you come alive!
ONLINE THERAPY IN OHIO
Granted, life can be stressful, and many situations can cause us anxiety. Sometimes we even create pressures and stress for ourselves. But by proactively being present, we can learn to find the little joys of life and conquer the negative with the positive.
If you’re having trouble seeing those small joys in life and feel like you could use some professional help to counter anxiety and stress in your unique situation, please reach out for support. You’re not alone. Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy to help with stress and anxiety. Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here for you.
Many parents have experienced dragging their teen to counseling. Several reasons might cause a teen to struggle with going to therapy, such as:
- It feels weird being in a counselor’s office.
- The conversation is awkward and not genuine.
- And of course, teens are often very reluctant to talk about what is going on for them. Especially talking to adults!
However, online counseling can help break down these barriers.
It’s a tool where the therapist and client hold their session via video conference, instead of face-to-face in an office environment. This approach allows teens to “go to” and thrive with therapy, instead of only surviving sessions.
Are you a parent with a teen in counseling? Consider how online therapy could help.
A Familiar Setting
There are several benefits to online therapy, and one advantage of holding an online counseling session is that your teen can do so comfortably at home. Keep in mind, somewhere familiar and relaxing will help your teen to open up.
Think about it. In your own experience, have you ever felt a little tense in a new or unfamiliar setting, especially offices? So, when your teen goes to a therapist, especially initially, they are already on guard.
That stress decreases or disappears altogether when teens are at home. It’s helpful to coach your child on having an appropriate environment for the call, too (i.e., low noise level, minimal distractions, good internet connection, etc.), and to reassure them they’ll have the privacy they need.
Technology Is Second Nature
Teens are already very familiar with technology in general. It’s incredible how easily they can adapt and learn new apps or programs.
Having a face-to-face conversation may be more challenging for them than chatting online. They’re even more used to talking on video chat than making a phone call.
Teens are often used to video chatting with groups of friends. So, if the idea is to engage with teens so they actively participate in therapy, it makes sense to utilize tools they’re already familiar with.
The Perception of Control
Almost everyone wants to have control over their own life. This mindset certainly applies to teens who are always looking for more freedom. When a teen goes to therapy, though, it’s often not because they want to — but have to go.
They must ride in the car with you to the office. When it’s time for the appointment, they must walk through a door that they would rather not.
With online counseling, there is more of a perception of control. In theory, they could merely disconnect from the call if they wanted. Naturally, the hope is for teens to stick to the conversation.
However, just having that perception of control can help keep teens engaged.
Some Things to Consider
It’s important to note that although teens have the potential to thrive and engage with their therapists through online therapy, that isn’t always the case.
Unfortunately, too many teens live in home situations where they would rather not participate in online counseling. One reason is they can’t get any privacy to talk. Another is they might be embarrassed about where they live. And sadly, many teens have negative or abusive parents. They might hear what their teens say in a session and hold that against them.
If your teen is engaging in online counseling and you genuinely want them to get help, here are some ideas to support them.
- Give them their privacy. If teens have their room let them have the session there. Or, step outside while your teen has the call. If neither option is possible, both of you wear headphones. Or, you play music or watch a video while they’re talking.
- Create a space for their sessions. When it’s not possible to have a suitable background or your teen is very self-conscious, go to the park. They could have the call on a distant park bench while you wait in the car. If, by chance, you do accidentally catch a bit of the conversation, don’t act on that knowledge.
- Be respectful. The ability for your teen to have confidentiality with their therapist is crucial for the process to work. It could be that your child notices that you accidentally overheard something. If that happens, apologize and reinforce how you know it’s vital for those conversations to be confidential.
Online counseling is an excellent opportunity to engage teens in therapy who would otherwise be resistant.
ONLINE COUNSELING IN OHIO
The COVID-19 health crisis is affecting all our lives, and many teenagers are having an especially difficult time. Symptoms of depression and anxiety are showing up in teens who feel isolated due to this pandemic. If your teenager is struggling right now, Blue Boat Counseling offers online counseling with teen therapists who can really help. Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here to help your family and provide the support your teenager needs.
There are so many ways to view this world of ours. You have your optimists and pragmatists and pessimists and more. Of course, there are times of almost universal celebration and other times when virtually everyone feels sad. Such is the inevitable twists and turns of life.
However, if you’re someone who struggles with catastrophic thinking, things are not so cut and dried. You may feel susceptible to intense fixations and unreasonable expectations. These extreme emotions, in turn, can induce a state of emotional overwhelm and stress.
Catastrophic Thinking, Overwhelm and Stress
We all have negative thoughts at times — often for very justifiable reasons. If those thoughts often or always spiral into worst-case scenarios, it could be that you’re dealing with catastrophic thinking.
A widespread example occurs when you experience any physical symptoms. Logically, you may want to know more about it, so you do a Google search and diagnose yourself with a terminal illness within 10 minutes. There seems to be no middle ground.
Again, this happens to everyone at one time or another. But for someone who has gone through a traumatic experience, catastrophic thinking could become the norm. It’s common among those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Regardless of the underlying cause, catastrophic thinking can override, stress and overwhelm your rational mind. An overwhelmed mind is more likely to slip into even more worst-case scenarios.
Signs of Emotional Overwhelm
- A progressive decrease in your ability to focus or complete basic tasks
- Feeling fatigued or symptoms of physical illness with no apparent source
- Withdrawal and social self-isolation
- Displaying disproportionate reactions — in particular, extreme responses to minor events
- Your emotions color your perception of everything in your world
- Again, your overwhelmed state feeds you right back into susceptibility to catastrophic thinking
4 Daily Tips to Cope with Catastrophic Thinking and Overwhelm
1. Be Mindful of Your Thoughts
Catastrophic thinking thrives when you dwell on the past or fret about the future. Mindfulness teaches us to be more present with our thoughts and see them with more clarity. Meditation is a proven and calming practice explicitly designed for this service.
2. Accept the Ups and the Downs as Normal
The antidote to catastrophic thinking is not denial. There is a happy medium: acceptance and balance. No one can avoid bad moments, but recognizing them as normal can reduce the dread they create.
3. Counter With Self-Care
The more stressed you are, the easier you slip into catastrophic thinking. The more tired you are, the faster you are overwhelmed. By practicing daily self-care and trying to find the little joys of life, you raise your defenses. This approach includes healthy habits with sleep, eating, and exercise, along with some relaxation techniques.
4. Talk Back to Your Inner Voice
Before you can fall into a state of overwhelm, learn to say no to the internal monologue’s preaching about doom and gloom. Your thoughts are yours to believe or challenge. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with experiencing a false notion — unless you surrender to it without a fight. The next time your inner voice tells you something like you’re getting fired or failing a test, ask it for evidence.
When to Seek Help
As stated above, catastrophic thinking is often an outcome of PTSD. This condition is severe but typically treatable with outside intervention. This reality — combined with the potentially debilitating effects of emotional overwhelm — points you in the direction of counseling. Putting the onus solely on yourself may be too much to handle at first.
That’s okay; there’s no shame in seeking help. Weekly therapy sessions can help you identify unhelpful thought patterns and their sources. From there, you can see the path to change and recovery with more clarity and motivation.
Online Therapy in Ohio
With professional guidance, you can and will calm your anxiety. Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy for those struggling with anxiety and PTSD living in the state of Ohio. Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here to help.
You know the feeling. You’re chugging along in a good groove. After a while, you settle into a rhythm and may even begin taking the upbeat vibe for granted. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, you are greeted with sudden, perhaps drastic change. It feels jolting, disorienting, and yes, …it can be frightening.
On some level, we all know change is inevitable, but time and time again, it takes us by surprise. When it’s a significant change — like the COVID-19 global health crisis — it can send you into a tailspin. Even though pieces of the economy are opening up in Ohio and across the country, the summer of 2020 is not going to be like any we’ve experienced. And all your best-laid plans for it have been scattered to the wind.
Change Is Inevitable
Nothing lasts forever except impermanence. It’s a delicate balancing act to accept this non-negotiable reality while still enjoying the present moment. You might say that this high-wire juggling act is our life’s work.
Those who practice mindfulness are best equipped to tackle the issue.
They appreciate the moment not only because it’s all we honestly have but also because they know for sure that things will change. However, even the most mindful have a lot in their hands when the change arrives suddenly and intensely.
Not All Change Is Created Equal
There is a kind of change that qualifies as upheaval. It strikes at our foundations or the foundations of our social contract. This kind of change is traumatic, and it creates aftermath.
There is perhaps no better illustration of this type than the coronavirus pandemic. Everything we took for granted — e.g., our health, finances, career, comfort, and natural ability to move about freely — is up for grabs.
In rare instances like this, we feel a sense of profound loss. An inevitable outcome of loss is grief and mourning. It may be for a particular individual. But a less explored form of grief occurs after we’ve been thrown off course. Our plans are irrevocably altered. It leaves us floundering, lost and sometimes having depressing thoughts or experiencing depression symptoms. Such a scenario requires us to face up to the need for grieving as we seek to recover our previously positive outlook.
6 Healthy Ways to Grieve Your Plans & Stay Positive After Sudden Change Due to COVID-19
Denial is a normal reaction to sudden change. To process and thrive, it is essential to shift quickly to acceptance. Accept that a). change is inevitable, and b). a significant change has just occurred. Don’t waste valuable energy struggling against reality. Instead, aim that focus on managing, healing, and helping others.
2. Maintain Whatever Structure You Can
This strategy, of course, depends on the scope of the change. In the case of social distancing, you‘ll be well-served to set up a routine as close as possible to what you’re used to while still following pandemic protocols. Over time, you can explore new approaches.
This choice has two benefits. Firstly, you become the better, healthier version of you. Also, you’re reminding yourself that you matter. Prioritize essentials like sleep, healthy eating, and activity habits.
4. Digital Detox
Take breaks from the endless notifications and the panic-inducing COVID-19 headlines. Use that time to practice stress management and to cultivate mindfulness.
5. Seek Out a Support System
Friends, family, neighbors — find people with whom you can share trust. Have a video call or a social distant chat in the driveway. Humans are social beings and need to stay connected even under social distancing guidelines. Consider seeking professional guidance, too. There is professional support available as most mental health counseling practices are open for online therapy, which is effective and even has some benefits over in-person counseling.
6. Embrace the Opportunity to Reinvent
In moments of turmoil, you can find the seeds of fresh and new ideas. When your routine and your plans are gone, you are free to reinvent. What are some new things you and your family could try this summer that fit within the confines of social distancing and other COVID-19 guidance? Personal growth can be the lasting gift of grief and loss.
Online Counseling in Ohio
Sudden changes leave us without a roadmap. In this scenario, it’s comforting and healing to find a skilled mental health counselor to help us navigate this uncharted territory. Even in a period of sheltering at home, online counseling offers much-needed relief and recovery. Please reach out for support; you’re not alone. Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy, and we can help. Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here for you.
“The new normal” is already starting to feel like a cliché as we navigate this COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s true, we’re all experiencing huge disruption, stress and overwhelm in our lives due to this public health crisis, and it really is creating a new way of life for everyone. While the state of Ohio and many others are starting to open up some of the economy, it’s definitely not business as it was a few months ago. This coronavirus is still among us and wants to spread, and until we’re able get ahead of it with a vaccine, we’ll be living with it and many new protocols for the foreseeable future – incorporating physical distancing of at least 6 feet, wearing masks, using barriers, limiting capacity all with constant hand washing and disinfecting. Everyday life is different and many plans have changed.
Our new normal is going to have many bumps along the way, but there are some positives. We’re seeing creative innovation like never before. Savvy businesses and incredible scientists are thinking of new ways to do things from how to sanitize N95 masks at Battelle here in Columbus, Ohio to hooks used to open doors and contactless pickup at many restaurants and retail stores. Health care is also pivoting in response to COVID-19, and telehealth is becoming more popular than ever. And mental health care is no exception. We’re fortunate to have technology on our side during this crisis, and mental health agencies are able to convert to offering treatment through online therapy. And while it’s not the same as seeing your counselor in person, there are many benefits to online counseling. Here are a few…
YOU CAN “GO” TO YOUR COUNSELING APPOINTMENT
There can be a lot of anxiety associated with routine things like going to the grocery store right now in the midst of this pandemic. What did I touch? Did I sanitize my hands after touching that door? Did I touch my face? How do I wipe down my groceries when I get them home? There’s so much stress over things that used to be so simple. The basic things now take a lot of planning and energy when they used to take little to no thought at all. To have an outlet for your stress and anxiety that doesn’t add to it is so important right now more than ever. With online therapy you can “go” to your appointment from the place you feel the most safe and comfortable – your home. We have the technology, and getting the help you need is the perfect way to use it.
ONLINE THERAPY WORKS!
With technological advances and the introduction of telehealth options, many studies have been conducted on the validity of online mental health counseling. There are reports on the effectiveness of online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with a study from the Journal of Anxiety Disorders stating internet-delivered CBT “for anxiety and depressive disorders is effective, acceptable and practical health care.” Another study found that online therapy can work for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) just as well as in-person counseling.
Online therapy may not be the best choice for more severe mental health issues or those experiencing a mental health crisis, but for many it’s a viable option that we know works and one that mental health therapists are grateful to have during pandemic times where face-to-face interaction must be limited.
FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING WITH ONLINE COUNSELING
When you don’t have to physically go to an appointment, it’s amazing how your scheduling opportunities increase. Suddenly lunch breaks and kids’ nap times become options you would never consider for an in-person counseling session. And you don’t have to incorporate drive time or consider traffic in your scheduling decisions. Maybe you have a teenager who’s home now during the COVID-19 pandemic and can now have an online therapy appointment when before they didn’t have a ride because you were at work – and most teens genuinely thrive with online counseling. Online therapy offers much more flexibility than in-person scheduling, and now is the time to take advantage of that.
ONLINE THERAPY IN OHIO
The COVID-19 health crisis is disrupting our lives, and many are experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms for the first time. Symptoms are worsening for those who already have anxiety and depression issues, and the stresses of daily tasks that now take so much energy are taking their toll on mental health. If you or someone you love is struggling right now, you’re not alone. Blue Boat Counseling offers online counseling, and we can help. Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here to support you.
A pandemic is bad enough. But what if you or a loved one is dealing with a mental health crisis during this time?
Individual crisis definitions vary, but in general a crisis arises when an uncontrollable and unpredictable stressful or a traumatic event occurs. A crisis leads to emotional instability that includes elements of anxiety and depression. An individual in crisis is unable to cope with the situation as they typically would be.
In a sense, we’re all currently dealing with a crisis: the crisis that is this coronavirus pandemic. But some of us are perhaps better off than others. As I write this, I think of how my life would be different if I lived in a 3rd world country. My current situation surely wouldn’t look like a hot cup of coffee and a laptop allowing me to write this post. It would probably look and feel a lot more like a war zone due to financial strain, crime, and a poor healthcare system.
So here are some examples of what I’m referring to as I discuss a loved one being in crisis during this time:
- A veteran with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) who is reminded of war during this pandemic
- A woman who struggles with panic attacks, whose husband is abusive and now working from home
- A child who has nothing to eat for lunch due to school closures
- A former foster youth who is now homeless because their dorm closed
- A dad who lost his job and became severely depressed during the pandemic
- A woman who lost her mother due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is grieving the loss
As you can see, everyone’s definition of crisis may be different. We each experience reality from our own perception, so be cautious to not minimize anyone’s experience(s) during this time. Rather, allow them to be angry, sad, confused, and so on. That means, simply allowing the person to cry if that’s what they need. It’s also important to mention that even though these are what we call an “individual crisis,” a crisis rarely affects just one person. As you can imagine, in all the examples above, more than one person is affected by each situation. But there’s also what we call a “systemic” crisis which may come in many forms, such as those economically based, for example a worldwide recession that leads to millions of individuals losing jobs. A systemic crisis happens when communities, people, and institutions become overwhelmed and the “response systems are unable to effectively contain and control the event in regard to both physical and psychological reactions to it”.
So, what can you do to help a loved one who is currently experiencing a mental health crisis?
Here are 5 things you can do to help a loved one who is experiencing a crisis. These are adopted from Psychological First Aid.
1. Reach out or make contact with the person experiencing the mental health crisis
A loved one who’s in mental health crisis may reach out to you, and as such you would be responding to someone who’s experiencing a crisis. When a person is in crisis, they may be confused or even irrational. They may not act the nicest, or they may not realize what they’re experiencing. And with today’s stay at home orders, it’s tough to know who may be experiencing a mental health crisis since you’re not seeing them in person as you normally would. So, you may need to be the one to initiate contact with your friends and family who may be struggling during this COVID-19 pandemic. You should do so in a helpful and compassionate way. For example, sending a simple “check-in” text can be helpful, such as “how are you holding up during this time?”
2. Assure safety
Assuring safety is extremely important. We cannot truly focus on one’s mental health if they’re lacking basic needs such as shelter or food. It would be difficult to work on coping skills with a child who’s hungry. Likewise, if someone’s injured, or a serious danger to themselves or others they need to seek immediate attention by either calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency room. If your loved one is already safe but doesn’t feel that way, remind them they are in fact safe. This might happen if someone has a flashback of a previous trauma, for example. This person may be acting as if they’re defending themselves from an attacker or in some other way re-living the past. To help, assist the person by reminding them where they are, that they are safe, and help them orient their senses. You can do this by asking questions such as, “how do your feet feel on the floor?” or “what 2 things can you smell in this room right now?” This will help the individual return to the present moment.
3. Offer practical help
If you’re able to and willing, help address immediate needs and concerns of your loved one. This may be more difficult than usual during this coronavirus pandemic as social distancing took effect. Some ideas for how to help during this time include offering to stay on the line with the individual as they call the suicide prevention hotline or their sponsor; helping the person find a mental health counselor; or finding a place for them to live.
4. Connect with a social support network
Isolation during this time is already ever present, but someone who’s in mental health crisis or recently experienced one may not be too eager to reach out for help. There are a number of reasons for this: embarrassment, shame, and fear among many. It can be helpful to connect the individual with their support network, including family members, friends, and community resources as applicable. Someone who’s hungry may need help locating the nearest food pantry. Another person may need to contact a family member or a friend.
5. Connect with resources and services
Finally, it’s important to help your loved one find needed services. Again, you may be able to help them find a mental health counselor who may be available via online therapy. For someone who’s in crisis, it may be overwhelming to attempt to research the internet for hours for the right person. They also may not be thinking in the most helpful ways – and therefore might miss out on something right in front of them. For example, a friend whose child is sick may need to be reminded to call her doctor or take the child to an emergency room.
Taking steps such as the ones above will hopefully help your loved one find some immediate relief. They will likely need follow up care to resolve the mental health crisis, so it’s important to follow up with crisis therapy, or another therapy which aims to resolve the issues. This is typically provided by licensed professionals in the human services field, like mental health therapists.
The following are additional crisis intervention resources:
United States (and other countries): https://www.psycom.net/get-help-mental-health
NAMI Helpline and Crisis resources: https://www.nami.org/find-support/nami-helpline
THIS BLOG POST WAS WRITTEN BY Blue Boat Counseling Therapist, Olena Sowers, LPC
Online Therapy in Ohio for Mental Health Crisis During COVID-19 Pandemic
If you’re not in an emergency crisis situation and decide you or your loved one are in need of a high quality Columbus OH counseling practice that’s offering online therapy in Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic, please reach out and contact Blue Boat Counseling today. Our skilled Columbus therapists can support you and provide ongoing crisis therapy to help improve your mental health during these trying and unsettling times.
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