By: Nicole Ayers Thaxton, PHD, APC, NCC
Teens and students have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 stress. One of the most challenging parts of the current pandemic is the uncertainty of what’s to come. Online school, college transition, SAT/ACT testing, athletics, extracurriculars, and so much more have been altered and impacted. Most universities have shifted their plans as well. Stress and anxiety are likely to proceed and follow life transition; however, with the great deal of uncertainty and multiple kinds of uncertainty at this time, major stress reactions are likely to follow. Stress is to be expected.
With many of my clients, I’m witnessing a reaction to the pandemic similar to that of loss and grief. I have spoken with parents and families about the complex nature of loss and grief during the pandemic. The loss of everyday interactions with peers and teachers as schools move online. The loss of structure with school and extracurriculars. The loss of rites of passage like homecoming, prom, graduation, moving to college, etc. Not being able to experience these things is very painful. It’s important for parents and adults to not downplay the loss of these experiences.
As with other losses, mindfulness and self-care play a large role in stress reduction.
Mindfulness includes staying in the present moment. It’s impossible to know how long the pandemic will be a part of our lives. The best antidote to uncertainty and loss is to shift our focus to what information we have currently. Mindfulness includes:
Self-care is also hugely important to stress reduction. Self-care can include:
Finally, it’s important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic impacts students and teens very differently than adults. Teens will experience fear, sadness, grief, anger, and other difficult emotions during this time, and they will express these feelings in different ways. Helping your teen cope with stress will involve validating their stress rather than minimizing it. It will involve having conversations about loss and self-care. Telling them to “get over it” or “it is the way it is” is unlikely to help them cope with the major stress they are experiencing. A great way to validate your teen’s new normal could include, “I hear how devastated/angry/sad you are about your new normal. Truly I’m so sorry. Is there anything we can do to help?”
Nicole works with teens, young adults, and families experiencing stress and anxiety related to COVID, school, transitions, and more. Contact us to schedule an appointment.
By: Ariadne Crane, MA, APC, AMFT
If we were to compare deities from various religions, we would notice that the God from the Christian Bible is the only God that left his throne and met his people face to face. He literally came down from the high mountain to meet us and interact with us. We were created to be in relationships with others, modeled by God. Not only is it important to Him to relate to us, He also desires for us to relate to Him. He came to live among His people to model how to relate to one another.
One of the most significant versus in the Bible is in Matthew 22:37-40: "Love the
Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment.
The second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
The word love has been used and abused throughout the centuries and thousands of books have been published interpreting the significance of love, so let's introduce a few questions that help identify the love demonstrations between a couple.
Often Marriage and Family Therapists begin a session with a focus on how the couple interacts and shows affection. Is there a friendship between them or a connection at all and if so is it purely physical? Do they trust each other? It is important to know how they connect or bond with one another. Do they feel protected as well as respected and do they feel they can count on each other no matter what. How the couple communicates is vital. How they solve conflict is also important. In most relationships there will be disagreements, but how they are worked through is critical.
What God models best is that being in relationships can be difficult because it often means having to give up our wants and needs. Being in a relationship takes sacrificial love to forgo one's own goals and dreams. This goes beyond being united or part of the team. It is the selfless act of wanting the other to succeed, to be part of the same team fighting and defending for the same objectives. This sacrificial love is not an obligation, but a desire to serve one another due to the commitment to the relationship, even if there is no benefit to the giver.
We can rely on His Word for guidance, though not everything is spelled out for us in the Bible. Jesus Christ demonstrated the ultimate sacrifice when He laid His life down for all of us. I believe that there is only one God; He is also known through Jesus Christ (our Advocate) and the Holy Spirit. No verse in the New Testament describes sacrificial love better than John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
In order to put the relationship ahead of the individual one must put his or her needs and desires aside and follow Christ's example of sacrificial love. This is love in its truest manifestation.
Photo Credit: Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash
By: M. Diane pearce, MFT, Legacy Strategy Clinical Director
See Part 1 for Tips 1-4
Continued from Part 1...
How do we survive these unprecedented circumstances with our Families intact?How do we keep intact the family and what family was created to be in the midst of our uncertainty?
5. SET UP A TIME ALONE FOR EVERYONE! We all need some time to be quiet and sit alone with a book, or take a nap, or sit outside and be fully present in the moment. Listen to the sounds around you and be still for a little while each day to notice the many things that go unnoticed in our normal daily routines. Without this, we can all begin to feel a bit like a tangled ball of tension. This tension will eventually fall out onto those we care about the most. Breathe deeply & notice the little things & smile….
6. CREATE A DAILY PLAN WITH FLEXIBILITY! Most of us are accustomed to accomplishing tasks each day during the traditional work week (Monday-Friday), so follow suit and have a project with a balanced amount of time designed for working on the project, breaks, meals, fun time, alone time and rest time. Our bodies and our minds work best when there is a rhythm to our activities. If our sleep rhythms are drastically altered, our entire body will be affected. Too much of any good thing can turn int a negative. As with life in general, plan for the unexpected. Flexibility eases the tension that builds when people are together for extended periods of time. Breathe deeply & be easy going & smile….
7. PRACTICE BOUNDARIES! It is very easy for us all to forget our place when we are in each other’s space physically, mentally and emotionally. We all have invisible property lines that give us some power in. One example might be that as parents, you probably decided what to wear today, and I am pretty sure that if your kids decided to select your clothes today, you would have likely responded with something like, ‘Nice try, but no thanks!’ Our kids need their own designated space to control (within reason and safety). When school is not formerly in operation, maybe we could let the kids have some freedom in their clothing choices. This principle can be practiced in most parts of our lives, not just in clothing. Breathe deeply & respect boundaries & smile….
8. ALIGN OUR ACTIONS WITH OUR FAITH! It is so very easy to allow our responses to be dictated by our circumstances, frustrations and hurts. If we allow our emotions to be in charge, we will spread a virus of negativity with our self-absorption, our actions, and attitudes towards those we do not understand. In my home, we know that our higher power, God, calls us to walk in His ways as we respond to our circumstances. For us, we know that His ways include truth in times of confusion, mercy in times of not knowing the full story, patience in times of frustration, gentleness in times of fear, and above all, love towards one another, regardless of what my emotion tells me. Are we perfect in this endeavor? Absolutely not! We are but broken humans striving to learn from our own mistakes. We re-focus and re-calibrate frequently, that means we apologize and lean into each other. Where does your moral compass comes from? Wherever it comes from, remember in times of uncertainty to re-calibrate often with the source of your compass! Breathe deeply & trust in one greater than yourself & smile….
By: M. Diane Pearce, MFT, Legacy Strategy Clinical Director
It appears that we are all in a position to fortify our "shelter in place!" After COVID-19 cases begin to subside in our nation, perhaps we can all move forward with a renewed appreciation for our family. Perhaps, even in spite of the likelihood of COVID-19 intensifying the risks for divorce, abuse and domestic violence reports. We have all broken from our learned ‘normal’ rhythm of living together. The stress of more time with our families, more anticipated responsibilities and financial tension can cause the strongest to feel overwhelmed.
How do we survive these unprecedented circumstances with our Families intact?
How do we keep intact the family and what family was created to be in the midst of our uncertainty?
Perhaps the following eight strategies can assist you in protecting the Family safety of your "shelter in place" in the midst of any pandemic.
8 SURVIVAL TIPS ON RELATIONAL STRATEGIES IN A PANDEMIC:
View Part 2 for Tips 5-8.
As of 3/15/2020, LEGACY STRATEGY will remain open and we will be in the office seeing clients as usual unless directed by the authorities to close our offices. Unless there is communication from your counselor or therapist to the contrary, we will be conducting business as usual with a few extra precautions. We look forward to meeting with you as scheduled.
Please know that the safety and well-being of our clients, as well as the staff at LEGACY, is a top priority for our office. In response to concerns about the COVID-19 Coronavirus, LEGACY and its staff will be implementing certain precautions to minimize the risk of transmitting any influenza or illness. These precautions include twice daily cleanings of the entire office and restricting sick staff and/or clients from entering the office. Further, please do not be concerned if we do not greet you with a handshake for the foreseeable future as well.
Should you choose to cancel any appointments for any reason till the end of March you will not be charged. But please let your counselor know within 24 hours, for the foreseeable future. If you no show an appointment without notice, the customary and usual fees will apply.
As I consider the current medical, social, and economic challenges we are all facing, I find myself grateful to know a God whose love and sovereign power are trustworthy in all circumstances, whether in troubles or in blessings. It is my prayer that you remain safe and that you rest in knowing that we can all have a peace that extends to all circumstances.
Dr. Diane Pearce, Marriage & Family Therapist
Legacy Strategy Director
Legacy strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.