What is Online Counseling?
Online Counseling is the interaction between you and I through the use of the internet. Counseling is communicated through the use of a confidential messenger/video program like skype, called "Zoom".
Psychological Advice about the fear of the Novel Coronavirus: We WILL get through this. As Dr. Fauci says, "This will end eventually."
The following is the outline for this page. Take your cursor down and go to the area you would like to find more information:
- What is Covid-19 or the Coronavirus?
- Signs of Emotional Distress and Coping
- Avoidance and Treatment of Covid-19
- Wear a mask or cancel your small family gathering
- Feeling Awkward about asking people to wear a Mask
- Young Adults and Dealing with FOMO - Wanting to Date and If you moved back home
- Avoid Super-spreader Events - no matter your age
- Use your Pent-up Energy to Do Good
- Emotional issues and communication
- Reducing Fights through Emotional Social Distancing
- For you and your younger kids and going back to school or online
- Keeping UP Beat
- Conflicts over whether to wear a mask - Don't be a "Mask Karen"
- How do I sign up for Online Counseling?
What is COVID-19? Covid-19 is a new type of flu virus (also called a coronavirus) that is very contagious and can be very deadly. Most colds and flues are a 'coronavirus', so named because of the Corona or crown made of the spikey proteins on their surface. But Covid-19 is one that is new and because of that, we have no immune defense to it. Covid-19 is more deadly than most flues. Since it came out in December of 2019, researchers are studying it and have found vaccines. Many people are freaking out and panicking about possibly getting the virus.
Signs of Emotional Distress include:
- Shallow breathing, high pulse
- Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety, or fear,
- Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels,
- Difficulty concentrating,
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images,
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes,
- Worsening of chronic health problems,
- Anger or short-temper,
You might notice that many of these symptoms of distress mimic symptoms of Covid-19 (body aches, difficulty breathing, fatigue, cough/sneezing, worsening of chronic health problems, and sometimes fever and/or rashes). It is one reason that ER's are seeing a lot of people asking if they have it. Most likely, they are having a panic attack or some sort of emotional distress, but it is possible it could be Covid-19, so it is very concerning. Public Health Officials are saying, "Don't go to the ER or Urgent Care. Call your doctor, or a doctor, to ask if you should get tested." And just because you might get a negative result (meaning you don't have it), it doesn't mean you won't get it the next day, or even the next hour..
There are questions flying in our minds, such as:
- What if I get it from someone near me while at work, out shopping for food, or even at home?
- What if I lose a family member over it?
- How do I stop feeling angry over people wearing masks or not wearing a mask?
- What if I lose my job or my income?
- What if the world as I know it collapses?
One of the scariest things about this Coronavirus is the UNKNOWN. That is why all of the "What if..." questions really bug us. We think we can't answer them. However, we can with a good degree of certainty by going to medical and scientific sites to find answers. Keep up to date on the research, too, as the data changes the outcomes of studies. For instance, at first, the medical boards and politicians were saying don't buy masks to wear at the beginning of this pandemic. They did that because there weren't enough masks for nurses and doctors. They told us to stay home instead. Now the medical personnel have enough protective equipment and they are letting us go out more, so masks are very important for us to wear when we are out in public.
If you read something on the internet, especially on social media sites, that seems very alarming (such as protests to reopen, cures & remedies for Covid-19, rules & laws, political rhetoric), do your research and make sure it is true before you panic and share it. Remember that social media sites have a strong confirmation bias. Meaning that they program your pages and ads you look at to be similar or alike to your belief system (things you said you liked). In contrast, most scientific studies look at other ideas and hypotheses, making them more well-rounded and less biased. And because data changes, the scientific advice changes.
Covid-19 is a novel, or new, virus that is ever changing and the treatment for it changes as well. It is important to look at the source of the medical information and how the study was conducted. Proper studies include double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials, which is generally considered a design that minimizes bias and can support causal inference, This means that the people in the study and the people conducting the study do not know who is getting the real drug and who is getting a sugar-pill. That way, no experimenter or subject bias can explain the reason for the changes. The control group, the one with the placebo sugar pill, is there to see if it is the actual drug that is working or some other thing related to being in the study. If there was no control group, then it would not be able to show causality, just a coorelation or co-relation to the drug.
Avoidance of and Treatment of Covid-19. Many people fear getting sick, even without a pandemic to scare them. They are more sensitive to their body's symptoms and tend to catastrophize and think of the worst possible outcome. They are called "hypochondriacs" or other insensitive names. People might say "It's all in your head." Most of the time, they have an anxiety disorder that includes being highly sensitive to their body's symptoms. Sometimes they can be unconsciously influenced to show signs that they read about in an illness or the side effects of a drug. If you do show any symptoms, like a cough, sniffles/sneezing, fever, difficulty breathing, losing taste or smell, or rash, call your regular doctor and ask them if you need to get tested for the Coronavirus. Otherwise, remind yourself that there are plenty of regular colds and flues and allergies going around, most of which will not make you severely sick in need of hospitalization. If you do show any of these life-threatening symptoms, please go to the nearest ER or call 911.
- Bluish lips or face
- Severe and constant pain or pressure in the chest
- Extreme difficulty breathing (such as gasping for air, being unable to talk without catching their breath, severe wheezing, nostrils flaring)
- New disorientation (acting confused about where you are, what day it is, etc.)
- Unconscious or very difficult to wake up
- Slurred speech or difficulty speaking (new or worsening)
- New or worsening seizures
- Signs of low blood pressure (too weak to stand, dizziness, lightheaded, feeling cold, pale, clammy skin)
- Dehydration (dry lips and mouth, not urinating much, sunken eyes)
Otherwise, remind yourself that you are probably okay. Get evidence for your subjective thoughts. For instance if you have a headache and worry it may be a brain tumor, see if taking a Tylenol will get rid of the headache. If it does, then you probably don't have a tumor. If you have sneezed and then cough, take a Benedryl and see if it is more likely an allergy.
Perhaps you want to get tested for Covid-19 to rule it out. Just remember that the test doesn't show if you got the virus after you took the test. To not worry about it, act as though you are fine, rather than acting as though you are sick. See if you can talk yourself out of being ill rather than the other way around. If you can, then it is more in your mind than a real illness. Your mind can manifest these symptoms in your body. They can also reduce or get rid of them if they are not caused by a contaminant.
The best way to avoid getting Covid-19 is to avoid being around anyone who may have it. The latest mutations of the coronavirus are more and more contagious. But, locking yourself in for lengthy periods of time is not always a healthy way to live. Before we had vaccines available to us, we had to avoid people as much as possible. Large gatherings, crowds, sporting events, travelling, and even small family gatherings with people you haven't seen in a while was not advised.
Getting vaccinated works bed to avoid getting severely sick from it. Having been fully vaccinated, you only have about a 10% chance of getting it, but the symptoms should be mild compared to people who are unvaccinated. The unvaccinated have a very high chance of getting it and possibly having to go to the hospital and be put on a ventilator. They may even die. Not getting vaccinated should be a choice made by you with your doctor about it's safety for you specifically. Some people have medical conditions that preclude them from getting vaccinated. The coronavirus doesn't care if you are a republican or democrat, a religious person, or a super healthy individual.. Anyone can get it from 2 to 102.
At home and hospitalization treatment
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is causing Covid-19 cases to spike, with an average of more than 747,000 new cases a day, according to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University. That's almost three times the average daily cases from a year ago, when the country was going through its previous peak, and it's putting an incredible strain on hospitals and emergency rooms.
The good news since the last peak is that the US Food and Drug Administration authorized new antiviral pills. Both Paxlovid and molnupiravir were given emergency use authorization in late December to treat mild to moderate Covid-19. They interfere (through different pathways) with the virus' ability to replicate -- and they can be taken at home, before someone becomes seriously ill.
Molnupiravir reduces the rate of hospitalizations in high-risk patients by about 30% and carries some possible side effects, but Paxlovid reduces the rate of hospitalizations by around 90% and is considered safer. In other words, Paxlovid is a bit of an antiviral superstar.
The bad news is they are hard to find. Twenty million pills could eventually prevent more than a million hospitalizations, based on Paxlovid's high efficacy. But given the time it takes to scale up production, the majority of those doses won't arrive for months. The National Institutes of Health guidance, which prioritizes treatment for those at highest risk: the immunocompromised and the elderly and unvaccinated. This last category, the unvaccinated, may not sit right with some people. But, most vaccinated people will not need the treatment to avoid hospitalization.
Still the best way to avoid Covid-19 is to get vaccinated and get boosted.
Another way we can avoid getting it or passing it, even if we are vaccinated, is to wear a good mask. If anyone around you has a cough, you can politely ask them to wear a mask to cough into, just as you would do if you had a cough. We used to say, "Cover your cough", but now it is important to really cover it. Don't just use your hands to cover it. And actually, it is even more important to cover your nose and sneezes. Don't go "nose commando" and wear your mask below your nose. Yes, it is more comfortable, but it is completely useless that way. The virus grows in the nose. You can find masks now, in almost every store, online, etc. Cloth masks are almost as good as wearing nothing. Find one that is at least 3 layered, non-woven, and fits as close to your face as possible. if you are outside and can stay 6 feet away from someone, you probably don't need to wear a mask. If you are inside your home alone or with people you have been around for at least 2 weeks without getting sick, you probably don't need to wear a mask. It is polite and good sense to wear a mask indoors a public area such as a store or a business.
California and most other places in the world have been in and out of "lockdown mode" with "SAFER AT HOME" orders. We needed to flatten the curve of new cases so that people who really needed medical help could get it. If we got the virus all at once, hospitals couldn't help us all. We saw that in Italy where people died in the hallways of hospitals, waiting for a ventilator. We still need to wear masks* and continue social distancing, it's been shown that this has significantly helped reduce the spread of the killer virus.
Collectivistic societies (meaning they will always focus on what is good for the group instead of over what is good for the individual) like China or Japan, seem to be able to handle the rules better. As Americans, we’re not used to limiting our personal autonomy to help the greater good. This meant it was hard to convince people that even if they are not in a high-risk group, or worried about getting sick themselves, they should stay away from other people, in order not to spread the virus.
World Health Organization experts warn case counts will continue to climb through the winter if hygiene and safety practices such as social distancing and wearing face coverings are not followed. We saw a huge spike in cases and deaths after Thanksgiving when people didn't heed the warning. After Christmas and New Years, the numbers are climbing very high, very quickly. It was hard to imagine, but we doubled our cases from winter 2020 to 2021. This means that many are NOT following orders to stay safe. At least 40% of the US is choosing to not get vaccinated and refusing to wear masks. We could have reduced or stopped the Pandemic in 2021 with the vaccines, but instead, almost a million Americans have died.
There are steps you can take to help protect yourself, grocery store workers and other shoppers, such as wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, and using wipes on the handles of the shopping cart or basket.
Feeling Awkward and geeky about asking people to wear a mask. Knowledge is power and that is why I state these facts. As the death toll rises, and reports of increasing numbers of younger people being hospitalized surface, we are finally able to understand how serious this pandemic is. It certainly also becomes "real" when we know someone who has had it and died or suffered through their recovery. Yet, young adults and teenagers are having trouble with the social ramifications. They believe it's a real disease and can be deadly, but it's hard to articulate it without sounding weird. Peer pressure can get in the way, too. Some of their peers are rebelling and saying things like "If you wear a mask, you are living in fear. Don't be a wuss." It is hard to think beyond this awkward moment and stand up for oneself and their health. They could memorize this phrase in response, "I'm quite brave and smart, actually, and will not subject myself to foolish behavior." or simply, 'You do you. I'll do me."
I've also seen this: When I wear a mask to an event, party, or when I go out to shop,
🔵 I am smart enough to know that I could be asymptomatic (without symptoms) and still give you the virus.
🔵 No, I don’t “live in fear” of the virus; I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.
🔵 I don’t feel like the “government is controlling me;” I feel like I’m being a contributing adult in society.
🔵 The world doesn’t revolve around me. It’s not all about me and my comfort.
🔵 If we all could live with other people's consideration in mind, this whole world would be a much better place.
🔵 Wearing a mask doesn’t make me weak, scared, stupid, or even “controlled.” It makes me considerate.
Wearing a mask is not a political issue. It’s a public health choice. Yes, President Trump has been saying that Covid-19 is no big deal and he doesn't wear a mask much or recommend them for his family or political events. It has been shown quite clearly, that his events are super-spreaders. The White House itself has the virus on it's surfaces and almost anyone who goes in it is at risk. This is not rhetoric it is fact And when President Trump got Covid, he had special medications to help him, creating a feeling of euphoria and feeling better than he did before he got Covid. Most people don't get those medications, so it is not fair for him to be a good representative of how Covid-19 is treated. Beware of his messages for your own safety.
YOUNG ADULTS Most people in their twenties and thirties are in the stage of life where they are just finding their new found freedoms away from the family and want to make their own decisions about their lives. They want to experience independence and fun times. Perhaps to even be a little irresponsible and learn how to "adult" by figuring out their limitations and boundaries through natural consequences. Many want to rebel a lot and be very irresponsible, feeling invincible and like this is a period of experimentation. They want to go to huge parties, drink a lot, maybe do drugs, and have sex. Heck, the more the merrier!
Suddenly, everyone was being told to be socially distant and many have had to move back in with mom and dad. It is quite natural to want to do the opposite of what mom and dad say to do. It's a way of "individuating" and becoming your own person. But, try to learn about yourself and rebel in small, meaningful ways. It is very difficult for the more impulsive ones who do not see the long-term effects of their daily behaviors.
Dealing with FOMO. The fear of missing out is anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website. Instagram seems to show so many people out having fun in groups. The photos make it seem as though there is no pandemic at all. They beckon, "Join us, it's okay..." You are sad and lonely anyway and then you see these fun activities your friends are doing and you are so TIRED of all this pandemic stuff. Maybe you give in to it. At your age, it's not easy to hold off on instant gratification and see the long haul of your decisions that impact other people. If you have gone back to university or college, you may know of some parties. The moral dilemma then is, "Do I report their behavior?" Concerned students want to remain on campus safely and are upset with the students who would rather go to college to party. But, no one wants to be a snitch.
The first thing to do is remember the truth. THERE IS A DEADLY PANDEMIC going on and it could hurt your loved ones. Over 800,000 have died in 19 months in the United States alone. In California alone, 34,000 have died. There are over 3 million cases of Covid with about 3% of those requiring hospitalizations and 1% die. Remember that as you plan your days. While you may be "over it" and not want to listen to the numbers any longer, Covid isn't over you.
By staying home as much as possible, you are choosing to eliminate the activities and things that don’t contribute to the deepening of the quality of your life experience overall. Try to embrace yourself and make the most fun of your current situation. Remember that the grass is always greener where you water it. Be grateful you have a place to live and that you are safe. Think of a time 1 year from now where you you look back at how you were smart and safe, while others were irresponsible and perhaps hurt others. How many people had to get sick and die to get the message? What you are doing by remaining in social isolation is meaningful and courageous. When someone says, "Hey, come on...." You can be brave and say, "You go ahead. I've got people I don't want to get sick." or, "I'm not invincible, and neither are you. But, go ahead. Be careful!"
Wanting to date and have sex does not go well with social isolation and lockdowns. How do you even kiss with a mask on? Try to put your libido on pause. Again, slow down and try to do everything online. Getting to know someone before you have sex can lead to a very close and meaningful relationship. As you talk, you will know whether this person is a good match for you. Do they have the same interests? Do they have the same world view? What about their financial goals? Even if you are interested in someone who lives a mile from you, think of them as "long distance" and you have to talk to them on the phone, facetime, or zoom. If you enjoy writing, write letters or emails. It can be very romantic. To see them in person, plan an outing that is something you can do 6 feet apart while you wear masks. Something like meeting at a park, the beach, or at the end of your driveway. Maybe get take-out food and put your cars parked in a way that you can sit and open the door to each other. If all you want to do is get laid, masturbation works very well and is perfectly natural. SEXTING might work well for that. As usual, make sure it is with someone over the age of 18. If you watch porn, remind yourself that most of the scenarios and people are not realistic. Don't expect your next lover or sexual experience will be like that. Many wives complain that their husbands learned how to have sex from pornography-- it is usually very self-serving. And don't compare your body to others on screen. Comparison makes for depression.
If you have moved back in with mom and dad, contribute as an adult and try to live like a good roommate. Do chores, clean, laundry, and cook for yourself or others, Communicate your wants and needs respectfully. If you have a job, don't just save your rent money, contribute to the household finances. At least offer to do these things. Parents should allow you to try to adult even if you are in your childhood room again. Decorate your own little corner of the house in the way you want. Change it up every week. Change the background of your wall behind you that shows on a virtual meeting. If you want to meet up with friends, do zoom parties. Play games, compete, make your own individual masks, etc, all online. or at least outside, spread out.
Super-spreader Events - No matter your age, please do not tempt fate and go to a party with people you don't live with, church worship service, or any crowded "super-spreader event" like Sturges. It is more important to be alive than to be among people at this time. There have also been many pastors and priests who have held large services, got sick and died. What would Jesus do? He would probably tell you to go home and praise Him. Your church, synagogue or mosque probably has a way to stream their services and there are so many apps you can find for church TV in general.
Use your pent-up energy to do some good. Your anger is energy that says, "Something is wrong and I need to make it right." Your frustration and anger will lower as you see that other people do not have life as good as you do. Find a food pantry you can distribute food to, or pick up food for people who need it. Tutor younger kids online in your favorite subject. Maybe you are the one who goes for groceries or take-out, since you may be the one at lower risk.Rescue a dog and train it. Take the dog for walks. If you feel particularly healthy and courageous, work at an essential job such as; grocery store clerk; pharmacy; clinic or hospital staff; cleaning crew for Servpro, Belfor, or Servicemaster; if you have a commanding and calm presence about you, be the person at the front of the store who asks people to wear masks (be prepared to deal with Mask Karens); delivery driver for meals-on-wheels, instacart, amazon, UPS, FedEx, Post Office;restaurant take-out food at the curb; or wait staff at an outdoor restaurant. Be a frontline hero. You will feel so much better for it. And you can look back on this historic time and think about all the good you did. Humanity is winning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=jRaTPkvJf6M&feature=emb_logo.
If you work outside the home, be sure to wear a mask* and clean your face and hands when you get back home. I've seen delivery people not wear masks when they go into restaurants, and that is very dangerous for the restaurant, the delivery person and the person they are delivering to. What a way to keep passing it around! If you work in a healthcare setting, long-term care home, or live in a big hotspot of the virus, after you come home, put your clothes in the laundry and take a shower. And remember to clean the doorknob to the door you come in after being out. Clean the faucet handle and the laundry knobs, too.
Boredom is your brain saying, "I want more stimulation!" Who would have ever thought we would think, "I am tired of staying home and watching Netflix." Instead of using that energy to be destructive, be creative. What have you always wanted to learn? Find any class you want online. For example, learn to cook or bake. Go to your app store and find the Food Network Kitchen. Invite Giada De Laurentiis in your home, Challenge yourself to beat Bobby Flay. If you are naturally creative, do your thing. Make an Etsy.com account and sell your items. If you hear the voice in your head that says, "I can't draw, paint, etc." try to prove it wrong. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Itching to go travelling? Plan a trip for 2021. Learn the language and the customs of the place you are going to, before you go. Enjoy singing and dancing? Make a youtube or tik tok video. Many are people who have found ways to put their special skills and talents to good use. A former toy-maker, laid off from his job, is putting on puppet shows in his living room window for passersby. An artist set up a socially distant art gallery in her backyard. Two siblings are helping local businesses provide low-cost meals to immigrant families in need. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/08/12/898528098/how-an-artist-a-toy-maker-a-college-student-use-their-skills-to-fight-the-pandem
Perhaps this Covid-19 Pandemic has changed your career goals. Maybe you want to join in a medical career (or avoid one). Maybe you want to be a teacher or educational administrator. Or maybe that is now the last thing you want to do. Do you think you may want to major in Political Science, Public Relations, or Broadcasting? One of the best things you can do with your time is take classes to find out what you enjoy doing. And one of the best classes is on critical thinking skills. If you are in school, find that course in your college or university. Or, take it from an entertaining scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson: https://www.masterclass.com/classes/neil-degrasse-tyson-teaches-scientific-thinking-and-communication. You will sound so smart when you argue your points. And you will be able to discern what is truly fake news.
Emotionally, it is a very tough time to be in close proximity with people whom you do not get along. Typically families have spats and disagreements, but when we are in close together for a long time, the arguments can get really heated. It feels like there is no where to go. I recommend "Emotional Social Distancing." Before you say something you might regret and can't take back, take a deep breath, and walk out of the room. Stop. Close your eyes. Feel the ground under your feet or a flat wall or door frame. Scrunch your toes and let go. Touch something soft and comfortable. (Use your 5 senses to calm yourself.) Now, ask for some time to yourself. Say, "I just need 10 minutes, please." Yelling, "Leave me alone!" or "Shut up!" can just keep the fire stoked, so try to be gentle, yet firm about it. Use this time to learn how to be more assertive and set boundaries. When learning to be more assertive, the family system can feel really awkward. Just go with it and strive for the middle ground, not extremes of aggressiveness or passiveness. The biggest part of being assertive is asking for what you want, not demanding it. Also, accepting "No" as an answer. Try for a compromise, but if someone you are talking to is not up for a compromise, let it go. For now.
Emotional Social Distancing can mean that you are aware and mindful of your emotions and decide how you want to express them. You may want to just name the emotion and soothe yourself in some way. Tune in to yourself. Say to yourself something like, "I am really frustrated! But, it is going to be okay. This is temporary." You may want to set an emotional boundary. "I don't want to talk about Donald Trump anymore, okay? I get too upset and there seems to be no end to it" is a good way to stop political arguments that go nowhere. If someone you tell this to continues to talk about the President, you can simply say, "I really don't want to fight about this. Can we talk about what we are going to do for Thanksgiving plans?" or "What do you think you want to change about our house next year?", "Do you still like the open-concept layout?"
Fights about chores are super common. Who is always getting stuck with the dishes? Suggest a schedule that seems fair. What to watch on the living room TV is also a big daily argument. Perhaps you can have a family meeting where everyone lists their favorite programs and you work out who gets to see what and when. Above all, be respectful of any ideas toward resolutions. If you are with someone who is emotionally abusive, or you find yourself being emotionally abusive, ask for help from a professional therapist or agency. Abuse (where you violate other people's boundaries) tends to get worse rather than better with time. You must make some change, no matter how small, for it to calm down.
Keep your cool.
There are times when all couples, parents, and children feel that they are out of patience. However, it is always important to find ways to help your family communicate without hurting feelings. Here are a few ways to calm yourself when you feel stressed, before you try to talk.
- Take a few deep breaths very slowly.
- Wait 5 minutes before starting to talk.
- Try to find a word to label what you are feeling (such as "disappointed, annoyed, irritated, angry, upset, lonely, sad"). Say it to yourself and be sure that it is appropriate for you conversation.
- Think of a request you would like to make regarding that feeling. Make the request assertively.
- Do not hold grudges. Deal only with the present. Try to avoid saying, "You always..." or "You Never..."
- Seek professional help if you feel that you have lost control.
Healthy communication with your family and friends is one of the most important and rewarding skills that you can develop. It also makes the tough conversations much easier and more effective.
Take deep, slow breathes to clear your lungs and help your body calm down. Shallow panicky breathing makes our bodies feel like we are suffocating. Deep breathing and natural coughing keeps you from getting pneumonia-like lung infections. Cough into a tissue or your left elbow.
Try to maintain a schedule while you are self-isolating. Having structure makes us feel safer. When there is a lot of change, we have to use a lot of energy to adapt. Do things you usually do to have life feel predictable and controllable. If you usually get up at a regular time to go to work or school, keep your sleep schedule. If you aren't a morning person, adjust your time to a later hour, but keep the schedule. Keep your exercise schedule. Improvise at home with heavy items to replace weights. Take breaks during the day where you are doing something physical for about 20 minutes (walking up and down stairs, gardening, cleaning, etc.)
Fill in your time with fun and interesting activities online. You can go to many museums and aquariums online, stream movies and documentaries get curiositystream.com, take new classes to enhance your career (coursera.org, thegreatcourses.com, and udemy.com are great sources). Volunteer virtually at https://www.volunteermatch.org/virtual-volunteering
Ask yourself what you CAN control right now.
There is plenty you can control: how you protect yourself, how you think, what you believe, what you learn, how you relax, who you trust, who you listen to, what you want vs what you need, whether you feel gratitude, how you are aware in the moment, how and when you ask for help, what type of mask you will wear, etc.. What other things do you feel you can control? Focus on the abundance, not on the lack.
Financial worries are also part of this pandemic. It is important to find any and all resources to keep a roof over your head and food in your stomach. If you are having trouble paying your rent or bills, talk to your bank about postponing or lowering the monthly amounts. Many utility companies like power and water will work with you during this time. There is no shame in taking a loan or grant, filing for unemployment, or going to a food bank. If you feel inclined to want to pay it back, you can always bring food or donate to the foodbank you used after you are financially stable again. Or pay it forward. A large part of our society is just one paycheck away from being homeless. If you are fortunate enough to not be in this position, try helping out someone you know who is. If you can keep your job and are financially solvent, now is a great time to donate to non-profit agencies, shelters, food banks, free clinics, etc. If you have received a stimulus check and you really don't need it, donate it: https://www.pledgemycheck.org/
Be aware of scams, too! Times like this either bring out the best or the worst in people and there are those who will try to scam you out of your money. As usual, do not give out your financial or social security information unless you are the one who initiated the call. Scammers use text or email to seduce you. They are posing as government sources for financial assistance, websites selling fraudulent products, falsely representing health organizations, and fake nonprofit donation requests. There is a common text going around that says you have a package that needs to be picked up. Scam! The USPS and other mail centers do not text you. Please double check all of the above situations before you give out personal information.
Many leaders are saying that precautions and the economy can coexist, if we do them safely. Andy Slavitt says, "So we're going to blame the people who were partying on Memorial Day. We're going to blame people who are protesting, we're going to blame -- there were some political leaders -- but the first place to put the blame is on the virus. Now we can control how we react to it. And I think we've issued a statement -- a website called #opensafely, which indicates things that you should be able to do."
For you and your younger kids: Remember that just because a school building is closed, it doesn't mean school lessons stop. When your child is in school online or in person, keep your kids up on their grades and schoolwork. This isn't a vacation like a long summer break. Add in "recess" or short breaks to your day where you do something physical, possibly outside for 10-15 minutes. If you have very young kids, it might be a good idea to have a small group of kids from the neighborhood (like 3-5 kids of the same age range) to meet and do classes together. Like a tiny kindergarten. They can follow the online classroom guidelines, but have a tutor or educational nanny to work with them. Keep washing their hands and toys every other hour so the germs have less of a chance of grabbing hold. The kids will probably be fine, but the teacher, nanny, or parents may be at risk. Here are some resources and ideas for students using online schools https://www.ocregister.com/sponsor-content/?prx_t=jfEFAABdFAFiEQA
http://www.fusionacademy.com one-on-one classrooms for grades 6-12 and tutoring for grades 2 and up.
For Families with small children, regarding Covid-19 https://consciousdiscipline.com/covid-19-five-helpful-responses-for-families/
Try to stay upbeat in your attitude. Sing a happy song-- It regulates your breathing and makes you feel happy. Clap. Dance. Get up and move. Laugh. Try to have fun while you protect yourself. Ever thought of wearing a Halloween mask or full costumes at home or out? If your kids need to go out with you to the grocery store, wash up their Halloween costume and let them go in it. If the mask has an opening at the mouth, put a piece of cloth, paper, or panti-liner on the inside to cover it.
*Whether or not you wear a mask seems to be another issue to be in conflict with others. To reduce conflict, we need to realize our assumptions and remind ourselves we may be incorrect. We may assume who is behind the mask or who is not wearing a mask-- what their world view is, what their beliefs are, what their political affiliation is, that someone is trying to block our pursuit of economic prosperity, liberty, or happiness, or whether they have an invisible chronic illness that puts them at risk. Some people don’t like masks because they panic when wearing one, due to claustrophobia or feeling like it’s hard to breathe; others find masks intolerable because of conditions like autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing issues. Thank you for checking on your assumptions!
Some people who refuse to wear a mask will try to break the rules and go into stores, restaurants, bars, planes, etc. without one on. When people say, "No mask, no service", they fight back. The arguments and physical fights can be extreme at times and lead to death. Those folks who are fighting about it, wanting their liberties, are probably not reading this page. However, if you are, thank you! If you come across someone like this, just go to the management and ask them to take care of it. The point of wearing a mask is to protect each other from a deadly virus. They found that many people are without symptoms, so they can pass it along very easily without a mask. We do not need to be hurt or in peril while fighting about it. Sometimes people will film these arguments and put them on social media where they go viral. I guess that is better than getting a real deadly virus, but try not to be a "Mask Karen."
A "Karen" is what's become common internet slang for an entitled and privileged white woman (sometimes they are men)-- Karen's tend to call out normal and appropriate behavior of a person, because she deems them a threat to her liberties or safety. These are her learned beliefs. In the end, they look really ridiculous, because they are. Again, try to solve the mask/no mask issue peacefully. Just try to follow the mask rules of an establishment and/or move away from the person who isn't wearing a mask.
**You can make your own individual masks with cotton cloths, old t-shirts, pizza boxes, rubber bands, and paper bags. Color and style them to your liking. They could be like Roman or Viking soldiers, your favorite anime character, your favorite superhero, a cat or dog, or lion, etc. They are not surgically sterile or graded N95, but they are a help in protecting you from breathing other's sneeze & cough droplets. If you are coughing and sneezing, you should wear something to protect others around you. Have a contest to make the most stylish, the most colorful, the most "you" mask. I would have thought that fashionistas would have created some pretty unique masks by now. They have! https://www.reuters.com/video/watch/make-your-face-mask-pop-like-a-new-yorke-id716231160?chan=9qsux198 BE SURE TO MAKE THE MASK BREATHABLE! No plastic near the nose or mouth.
Bottom line: Be a positive force in the world. Don't hoard toilet paper, paper towels, Lysol wipes, isopropyl alcohol, water, meat, fish, or peanut butter. If you find you are out of toilet paper, ask if anyone you know would like to trade for something you have that they want. If you need to DO SOMETHING, clean your own house and ask your elderly or disabled neighbor how you can help them. Maybe a mom nearby needs childcare so they can go to work at a hospital, restaurant, etc. Share positive stories on social media about how people are coping. Just as fear is contagious, so is hope.
This year, expressing gratitude seems more essential than ever. It’s been difficult lately not to focus on what we’re missing, the people we’re not seeing, the places we’re not going and the things we’re not doing. Articulating what we’re thankful for is a radical act in the midst of a hard time. Turning our attention to the things we do have rather than what we don’t is a tough task, but a crucial one.
If you find yourself lonely from having to self-isolate because your school or work sent you home, or your family is together more and having more conflicts I can help you all communicate peacefully. Feel free to make an appointment.
If you tend to be anxious or depressed anyway, now is a great time to get counseling. Do not let yourself go deeper into a hole of despair. Please sign up for an online session. I am here to help. Write ([email protected]) or text me (9492291138) to ask for an online appointment. We will come up with a time that is convenient for both of us and then get online at that time. Please put "online appt request" in the subject line of the email. Let me know some good available times for you. You may also want to set your own appointment on my calendar. Text me to let me know you set up an appointment. There is somewhere you can go for confidentiality. Most people who want individual counseling in their home where other people reside are doing the counseling in their cars.
The opportunity for confidential support online can help many people to feel safer and more in control when they communicate about their concerns in life. It helps a lot of people who are not able to come to my office for one reason or another*, or just wish to stay home and do counseling online. I've been doing online therapy via email for a long time, being one of the first therapists to do so.
Online counseling can feel very much like in-office counseling. Once the session starts, and we begin our work, the screen seems to melt away. As a therapist, I am giving you exactly what you would get from me if we were in a room together, and I make every effort on my end to convey that to you during our time together. I recommend taking some time upfront in order to facilitate your own therapeutic environment: Make sure you are in a quiet and private space, make sure you don’t have anything else scheduled for the hour, and you do not have interruptions. These things help ensure that you are having the same experience you would in a my office.
I charge $50 for a half hour and $100 for an hour session. Often your insurance will pay a portion of it. See here for more information on that. I can offer discounts for people who require them.
If you do not like the idea of someone looking at you, Email Counseling, TEXT counseling, and phone counseling works, too! The process of writing down thoughts and feelings can be particularly powerful. For some, this can help to focus thoughts and concerns. Online interaction also gives you the option to reflect or re read your communication with the counselor. It is especially helpful to people who find writing easy.
*Licensed as a Clinical Psychologist in California (PSY14768), I can help you online if your residence is anywhere in California.