The Return to College Amidst Covid-19

For many returning college students, late August and early September means moving back to campus, reuniting with long-distance friends, and gaining the independence that comes with leaving home. There’s nervousness and excitement in the air that signifies a new school year and new potential, but what do you do now when the start of the 2020 school year is unprecedented? 

With freshmen beginning their college journey online and returning students having to adjust to a completely new format, here are some tips that may help college students with adjusting to this drastically different school year and the complex emotions that are likely to accompany this transition. 

First-Year Students

Whether starting off their college experience at home or alone in a new environment, the 2020-2021 school year is going to be far from the year that first-year students were expecting. From campus life to social scenes to classroom environments, they will be the first cohort to enter college in this way. 

Making friends and establishing a sense of community can be hard enough in college under regular circumstances. Typically, roommates can be a sure set way to make a friend or two, but due to the pandemic, most dorms have been converted into singles. Joining clubs and Greek life can also produce lifelong friendships, but that process is not going to be the same this year either. It would be understandable to view these changes from the freshman year you had envisioned as overwhelming.

While the process of making friends and building your sense of community may be different and more unique than in past years, universities and campus organizations are still making it possible to be a part of campus life. Many social events and gatherings may be virtual for the time being, and it may take some time to adjust to this new format, but establishing a sense of community is of utmost importance in order to avoid potential feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Returning Students

After having experienced the “normal” college experience, returning students — who know what the year could have been — can experience a very difficult time adjusting. New students have only heard about many of the aspects of college life that returning students have already experienced firsthand. Returning students may be tempted to expect things to be just like previous years or to hyper-focus on the differences between previous years and the current one.

For these individuals, it is important to avoid comparisons or the temptation to focus on “what could have been.” Remaining positive and seeing the good in the situation can help divert attention away from dwelling on the past. This school year might not look like those from the recent past, but the future still holds many kinds of experiences and potential for learning and growth of all kinds. The future also holds a return to more in-person college life, all within good time. 

All College Students

It is important to make the most of the situation with what is given. Participating in the online Zoom events that universities put on can help foster peer-to-peer connections while remaining safe. In addition, having a schedule and staying on top of classes can help establish an environment as close to a normal year as possible. 

It is up to the individual to attend their online classes, and getting behind can result in poor academics, mental health, and overall well-being. To avoid this downward spiral, remember to adjust to the pandemic regulations while maintaining otherwise normal behaviors. This will build good habits for the rest of the college experience while avoiding isolation and loneliness — which we are all susceptible to right now due to the current circumstances. 

If you do experience moderate to severe emotional distress, impairments in your daily functioning, or concerns for your mental health while adjusting to this new school year, it is important to seek professional help. 

California Women’s Therapy is a team of female psychologists who specialize in working virtually with young adults, parents, and teens during these challenging times. Couples counseling is also available. 

For more information, please reach out to Samantha at Samantha@CaliforniaWomensTherapy.com or call (805)-244-5121.

This blog post was written by Samantha Tellefsen.

Ergonomic Tips for Continuing to Work from Home After Coronavirus

Many of us have found ourselves working from home because of the coronavirus. And while the country has slowly begun to open back up, threats of a “second wave” have emerged, which means a majority of us could be working from home for the foreseeable future.

Working from home may be helping us all save on gas expenses, but it sure is putting a crimp in many backs and necks! That’s because many people working from home did not have a dedicated home office to begin with. And so we find ourselves working in less than ideal ergonomic situations as we work on sofas, bookshelves and on top of our beds.

With this in mind, here are some ergonomic tips to help your body feel more comfortable working from home:

Use a Separate Monitor

Looking down all day at your laptop screen can really hurt your neck. You ideally want to be looking straight ahead. If you have a desktop home computer, use this instead of your laptop as it will help you look straight ahead while working. If you don’t, consider getting a monitor that you can attach to your laptop so you can keep your head elevated.

External Keyboards and Mouse

If another larger monitor is not within your budget, consider getting an external wireless keyboard and mouse. This will allow you to use your laptop as a monitor and raise it using a laptop riser or stack of books while you type and control the screen separately.

Invest in a Better Chair

You ideally want a chair that offers cushioning and is height adjustable. Keep in mind you get what you pay for. While not everyone can afford a $1600 Aeron chair, suitable ones can be purchased for $200 – $300. Also, keep in mind that work-related chairs and desks are tax-deductible.

Move Your Body

Your body shouldn’t be seated all day long. It’s important to get up every half hour and move around. Do some stretching and take some nice deep breaths. If you get easily caught up in your work, then use an app reminder such as UP or Stand Up.

Visit a Chiropractor

If, after following these guidelines, your body still feels sore, it may be time to visit your local chiropractor. They will be able to tailor a program to deal with your specific physical issues.

If you are in the area and would like to work with a chiropractor to get your body feeling better, give us a call or stop by our office. We can tailor a treatment plan for your specific needs.

SOURCES:

How to Cope with the Stress and Anxiety Caused by COVID-19

If you’re like most people, you are doing your best to stay calm during COVID-19 pandemic. But that can feel incredibly difficult at times. When not worrying about friends and loved one’s health, there’s also the conflicting information provided by the media and the economic ramifications of the virus that have people on edge.

Signs of Emotional Distress and 6 Ways to Cope

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most will exhibit some of the following signs:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some ways you can cope:

1. Limit Media Consumption

Hearing the media constantly spread panic isn’t good for anyone. It’s important to stay rational and do your own research to uncover facts from fiction as well as stay positive.

2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit

Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. Eat right and make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. Avoid consuming too much alcohol and try and find fun ways to reconnect with your family.

3. Tap into Your Sense of Fun

If you have kids, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house. Create an obstacle course in the back yard. Watch some of your favorite funny movies. Laughter really is the best medicine so get plenty of it!

4. Support Your Local Community

Many local businesses are hurting right now. If you’re still getting a paycheck, consider buying a gift card from a local restaurant, gym, hair salon, etc. to give them revenue now and you can use the card later. This will make you feel great at the same time.

5. Be a Role Model

Remember, your kids will ALWAYS look to you first to see how they should be thinking and feeling about something. So move about each day calmly and confidently and reassure your kids everything will be okay because it will be.

6. Use Your Time Constructively

For many of us, there is a silver lining in this situation in the form of extra time. What can you do with the extra time that isn’t being used to drive an hour or more each day in commuting? Focus on using this time wisely. Maybe you have an ever-growing list of home projects that you just never have time to tackle. Tackle them now, you’ll feel great about it later.

If you find yourself becoming too stressed or depressed during this time, I encourage you to connect with me. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the situation and navigate the days ahead. I am currently able to conduct sessions over the phone or via Skype, so you won’t even have to leave your home if your state is in lockdown.


SOURCES:

https://www.ucihealth.org/news/2020/03/covid-19-anxiety

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/stress_covid19.pdf

20 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is all over the news and is impacting our lives in many ways. Here in California (as well as many other states and countries), people are “sheltering in place” and “safer at home.” Schools are closed, many businesses are closed, and many of the people who do still have jobs are now working from home.

It should come as no surprise that this has triggered significant anxiety and fear, especially for those with preexisting mental health challenges. Many individuals who were already struggling with anxiety, depression, or chronic stress are now experiencing an intensification of their symptoms. And some people are experiencing heightened anxiety for the first time.

Common mental health symptoms associated with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic:

  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Changes in appetite (reduced appetite or increased “stress eating”)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased mood swings (including irritability, anger, etc.)
  • Increased misuse of mood-altering substances (alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs)

Here are 20 tips for coping with the anxiety and stress triggered by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic:

(1) Limit the amount of time you spend watching the news or reading about this topic, and only seek information about what’s happening from reliable sources.

(2) Get enough sleep

(3) Stay physically active and exercise regularly

(4) Focus on nutrition

(5) Stay well hydrated

(6) Practice deep breathing

(7) Try meditation

(8) Listen to relaxing music

(9) Read something unrelated to current events

(10) Limit your caffeine intake

(11) Create something

(12) Avoid turning to alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs as a means of emotional coping

(13) Read or watch things that make you laugh

(14) Focus on planning for the future after this crisis has passed.

(15) Speak regularly with loved ones and friends (phone calls, texts, live video, emails and social media are all great options).

(16) Seek out positive stories of others helping those in need.

(17) Find ways to help others stay safe and healthy during this time.

(18) Spend time in sunlight when and where possible.

(19) Journal about your thoughts and feelings.

(20) Share your feelings openly with the people you trust.

If you’d like accountability in implementing these strategies or are in need of additional support, please know that we’re here to help remotely (through live video or telephone). Our initial consultations are always free.

How to Set Healthy Boundaries During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Are you wondering how to set healthy boundaries during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Relationships can only be healthy when both people have the space to be themselves and maintain their personal integrity. This can be especially challenging while “shelter at home” and “safer at home” restrictions are in place. Sadly, many people find themselves in relationships, romantic and otherwise, with people who do not respect boundaries and feel entitled to have their needs met regardless of the other person’s. These people most likely grew up in households that were unsafe and unstable, and where there was a constant invasion of personal boundaries.

If you can relate, chances are you have a hard time creating healthy boundaries to create the life experience you wish to have. This unique time in our history is an excellent time to learn to create healthy boundaries within your relationship. Here are some ways you can begin to do so:

Identify Your Limits

You can’t set boundaries unless you discover where it is you personally stand. You’ll need to take a bit of time to recognize what you can and cannot tolerate. What makes you happy and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed? Only until you have made these discoveries can you move on to the next steps.

Don’t Be Shy

People who have similar communication styles are easy to engage with. These people will quickly understand what your new barriers are. But people who have a different cultural background or personality may not easily understand your boundaries. With these people, it’s important to be very clear and direct.

Pay Attention to Your Feelings

People who have a hard time setting boundaries don’t often allow themselves to acknowledge their own feelings because they’re usually too busy worrying about everyone else’s.

You’ll need to start recognizing how people make you feel in order to know whether your new boundaries are being crossed or not. When you’re with someone, make mental notes, or even jot down in a journal how that interaction made you feel.

If, after spending time with someone, you feel anger or resentment, this is a sign that the person may be overstepping your boundaries. Reiterate to this person what your boundaries are. If they continue to disrespect you and them, you will want to cut yourself away from further interactions.

Make Self-Care a Priority

Put yourself and your needs first. This may feel strange and even somehow wrong if you’ve spent your entire life taking care of others. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and get what you need to feel happy and well.

Speak with Someone

If you’ve spent an entire life with a sense of low self-worth, you may find setting boundaries quite difficult. In this case, it’s important to speak with a therapist that can help you discover where these feelings are coming from and how to change your thought patterns and behavior.

If you’d like to explore therapy, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to help you on your journey toward self-care.