Pandemic restrictions are taking their toll on us all, one year in and counting…….Our young people struggling with online school, or restricted in-person school, greatly diminished social activities, and little or no outdoor activities, need the support and guidance of the significant adults in their lives , now more than ever.
It is well-known that talking through our frustrations and challenges with someone who is actively listening and validating our experience can be very helpful in relieving negative or distressing emotions. Being there for our youth and offering them this support is essential to their development of coping skills in these unprecedented times. Also, acknowledging and normalizing setbacks and feelings of overwhelm, while encouraging creative initiatives in adapting to individual situations will help to foster resilience.
The 7 C’s : The Essential Building Blocks of Resiliency, presented below, was developed by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, paediatrician and author, and provides a useful framework in referencing the development of resiliency in young people.
Bottom Line #1: Young people live up or down to expectations we set for them. They need adults who believe in them unconditionally and hold them to the high expectations of being compassionate, generous, and creative.
Bottom Line #2: What we do to model healthy resilience strategies for our children is more important than anything we say about them.
Recognizing then, that resilience is not just one characteristic, but rather the development of several positive coping mechanisms and healthy attitudes, we the adults need to provide the appropriate environment or fertile soil for the youth to nurture and grow their resiliency, so that they can flourish in spite of the challenges of pandemic life.
For further guidance re: developing resiliency contact Self-Care Psychotherapy at 714 5551 or firstname.lastname@example.org Lystra Mahabir-Mongroo, Psychotherapist
Violence against women is violence against humanity. This violent crime, assault, abuse, is not acceptable, is not okay, is not to be taken as a normal response in any situation.
Violence against women is the end of the line. it does not come about in and of itself. The precursors to violence against women are many, having their roots in a broad range of societal constructs. And though many do not acknowledge this, there are sadly many women , along with many men, who support and propagate this behaviour by that segment of the male population who abuse, assault and murder
Many have already raised their voices in outrage at the recent and not so recent tragic losses caused by heinous crimes against women. My intention here is to highlight some of the roots of this aggressive criminal behaviour so that as a society we can begin to take on the collective task of reprogramming our brains, our hearts, our minds, our consciousness, to be more positive, nurturing, supportive, self-respecting and respectful of others.
Some of the underlying causes of gender-based violence historically:
Here are some steps we can take to begin reprogramming our thinking and behaviour:
Our churches, our temples, our mosques and other religious institutions, along with our workplaces need to uphold gender equality and gender respect. Our government at all levels needs to implement policies and laws that truly represents freedom and justice for all.
I am very much aware that what I am stating here is not new, is not laying out any brilliant solution to the despair, disgust and pain that we have all felt collectively. It has all been said before. It needs to be said again and again and again.
It needs to be discussed in homes, in schools, in religious institutions, in places of work, in all levels of government.
Everyone with a voice needs to speak out loudly and persistently, and everyone with a heart needs to speak inwards, softly, clearly and strongly.
Violence against women is violence against humanity. This violence, assault, abuse, is not acceptable, is not okay, is not to be taken as a normal response to any situation.
Change needs to happen and it needs to happen now: change of attitudes, change of values, change of behaviours, change of interpersonal communication.
And change begins within each one of us. Let us begin now.
Men and Women against Gender-Based Violence
Anyone wishing to discuss any of the above in more detail please call 1-868-714 5551
or email email@example.com
Lystra Mahabir-Mongroo, BA, BSW, MSW, EMDR ll, C.Hyp.
Anger can be a very overwhelming emotion for children to manage.
It is difficult for them to listen and process information while experiencing intense feelings.
When your child is angry is not the time to lecture, admonish or preach. Talking should be kept to a minimum and communication should offer nurturing and support:
By repeating any of the above statements in a calm tone of voice you will be providing reassurance and a sense of security as your child grapples with uncomfortable feelings.
Normalizing anger as a healthy human emotion and modelling the assertive expression of anger are essential life skills that can be demonstrated in the home.
Children need to be given permission to acknowledge and feel their anger, to express their anger, and to resolve their angry feelings. Here are some suggestions for expressing and managing angry feelings:
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
Here we go riding the waves of time into a new decade, wishing the sea of life on this earth would miraculously become silky smooth and calm.
The turbulence around us however reminds us that we are still navigating very stormy waters, and, as many have said, “we are all in this together”, though “we are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat”.
So the fact remains that we all need to take the appropriate precautions and follow the necessary guidelines for moving forward in whatever “boat” or situation that we find ourselves in.
While adhering to guidelines laid down by health officials regarding personal hygiene and social interaction may lead us to feel like a flock of sheep or a class of primary school children, it is important to recognize and remember that each person is responsible for their own behaviour, for the choices they make, both for their own good and for the greater good of their community, of family, of friends, of fellow citizens.
Turning the corner into the new year, 2021, gives us the opportunity to pause, to take a deep breath, and to contemplate what we (may) have learned from the physical, psychological and social turmoil of 2020.
• Value for human life would likely be number one combined with
• Value for our natural environment, as the one is dependent on the other.
• Importance of maintaining healthy family relationships and close friendships could be number two.
• Many people have reported the realization that they can do without many things – material things, some social activities, certain food and drink.
• Some have also expressed a renewed appreciation for the simple things that they have now had time to take notice of such as:
- Nature, flowers, plants, trees, birds, animals, stars….
- Children expressing themselves, playing, learning
- Listening, really listening to family and friends and getting to know them better
- Music, both naturally occurring and orchestrated by humans
• Most of us have been backed into the corner of self-reflection:
- Who am I really ?
- Where am I heading?
- What do I want the most?
- What is my worth?
• And of self awareness, allowing permissions such as:
- It’s okay to be me
- It’s okay to ask for help
- It’s okay to do things at my own pace
- It’s okay to say no……, and it’s okay to say yes, depending on the situation.
- It’s okay to be calm and confident
- It’s okay to be hopeful
- It’s okay to have faith
“Faith can be defined as the effort to believe in light when we’re covered by clouds.” (Mark Nepo)
• And most importantly 2021 provides us with a renewed opportunity to affirm that “it’s okay to take care of self, physically, emotionally and spiritually”. Prioritizing self-care will serve to manage stress levels and build resiliency in these challenging times.
We have all had to adapt to new or different ways of being and doing during 2020 and this will help us to continue to learn and grow as we transition into this new decade.
Self-care and self-nurturing create a pathway to self-fulfillment
for an appointment call 714 5551 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Feelings of Grief do not take a Break for the Holidays
If you would like some support in managing the impact of significant loss and/or major life changes during this time of holiday festivities, please read below.
Holidays, anniversaries, and other commemorative days can be difficult, anxiety-provoking, and even depressing for many who have experienced a recent loss or even a not so recent loss.
Loss of a loved one to death, loss of a partner to divorce, loss of an unborn baby to miscarriage, loss of a home to disaster such as flood, hurricane or fire, and loss of a job, the ability to earn one’s livelihood – all of these are considered significant losses that impact the psyche with indelible memories accompanied by distressing feelings.
And this year, 2020, with this unprecedented pandemic experience, grieving of lifestyle, of customs, of rituals, even the ability to grieve in meaningful ways, has exponentially added to the challenges of managing loss in a meaningful way.
Grief is the emotion associated with loss and grieving is the process through which the loss is experienced and eventually managed.
Some losses are accompanied by more shock effect/tragedy than others – accidents, natural disasters, sudden health emergencies, while some are expected, over a period of time. Whether sudden or expected, all losses are accompanied by grieving in some form or fashion. Even when losses are expected and accepted in a positive manner, adjustment to the loss involves some level of grieving, nostalgic contemplation, or sadness.
What I’ve come to realise over my several decades of practice as a psychotherapist, combined with my own life experiences, is that the impact of loss cannot be measured, cannot be quantified, cannot be compared or standardized. Each person’s experience of loss is unique to them. Each individual feels, thinks and grieves in a way that only they can fully comprehend.
As the holiday season is once again upon us many people may find themselves struggling mentally and emotionally to navigate the expectations that this brings, the festivities, the celebrations, the charitable activities, the shopping and gift-giving, the religious worship. Whether commemorating Christmas, Divali, Eid, Hannukah, Kwanza, Old Years, New Years, Birthdays, Anniversaries, it can be challenging to continue with family traditions and enjoy social celebrations while facing the impact of significant loss.
Discussing some of these challenges and struggles with someone close to you or with a professional counsellor can be helpful in developing some coping strategies to manage the demands of the holiday season in an appropriate and meaningful manner.
Here are some tips:
1. Make self-care a priority. Be patient and kind with yourself, as you would be with a friend in the same situation.
2. Acknowledge your feelings and recognize that:
Many find maintaining their old traditions and honouring their loss meaningful, while others find developing new rituals or celebrating in a totally different way or at a different location, more helpful.
4. Give yourself permission to say no to invitations/activities if you don’t feel ready
5. Give yourself permission to say yes to involvement in festivities without feeling guilt. Grieving and honouring loss doesn’t mean that you have to be sad all the time.
6. Children are people too. Provide them with support and understanding. Give them permission to grieve as well as permission to enjoy the holidays. Allow them to express their thoughts and feelings and help them to find meaningful ways to manage the experience of loss.
7. As the saying goes, “talking is the most healing medicine” for emotional pain. Sharing memories and telling stories about a lost loved one helps to honour them and integrate them into the celebration.
8. Some suggestions on which you can build your own meaningful practices:
The stress of the holidays will soon be over. Remember to make self-care first a priority, self-nurturing, self-soothing and self-reflection will help to keep things in balance.
To make an appointment, email email@example.com
or call 1 868 714 5551
The reopening or relaxation of restrictions on commercial and social interaction has begun. However, by no means are “things going back to normal”.
There are still limitations on the number of people that are allowed to congregate in various public spaces, there are still physical distancing guidelines, and the directive “no mask, no service”. The wearing of face masks when going out in public, the frequent washing of hands, and remembering to avoid touching your face, is being strongly advised by those in authority.
Is this then the crafting of the “new normal” or the “not-normal”?
However we may wish to view these practices, the fact remains that this is all very different from how we’ve been accustomed to going about our daily activities. So we all need to be making a very conscious effort to ensure that we are following these protective guidelines.
And as in all other areas of life, parents and caregivers have the responsibility to lead by example, to demonstrate to our children safe practices.
What can be seen as one of the significant benefits of these pandemic practices is that we have all been made to be so much more mindful of our behaviours and actions. We have been forced to slow down, to be present in the moment, in order to be aware of protecting others and ourselves.
We have also been forced to think about our priorities and focus on our basic needs versus many wants.
By extending this ability to be mindful to other areas of our daily lives we can improve our mental health in many ways.
This can help to reduce our anxiety levels, help us to feel more balanced, more calm, more purposeful, and help us to be more appreciative or grateful. Whatever our situation may be, and there are many who are experiencing significant hardships at this time, as long as we have life and breath, there is always something to be grateful for.
Expressing gratitude and practicing mindfulness can help us to focus on what is important and what we can do in the here and now to nurture ourselves and our families and to build a healthy and positive future.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more,"
To learn more about Mindfulness Meditation training go to selfcarepsychotherapy.com
Re-Entry and Re-adjustment
Within the next two weeks, the majority of people who are employed outside the home and who are not able to work from home, will be required to return to work, while children are still out of school. This poses a challenge for many, and especially for single parents. Some may find themselves scrambling to locate childcare services, whether that be relatives, friends, babysitters or home daycare.
This readjustment, just as we were becoming accustomed to quarantine-styled living, may be unsettling and will likely provoke renewed anxiety in both parents and children alike. Though businesses, services and activities are opening up and some people returning to work, the fact remains that the threat of the Covid-19 virus which catapulted us all into this pandemic state remains ever present. Some may find that going out and trying to function “as normal” while being aware that the threat still exists to be quite nerve-wracking.
Living with uncertainty is the lesson we are all involved in trying to learn at present. And, as I have heard it said, the only certain thing about life is uncertainty, (along with death and taxes). In order to manage this uncertainty it is really important to take the time to be more mindful, to tune in to the tensions in your body and the emotions in your mind.
Allow yourself to acknowledge them, sit with them, feel them and breathe into them. Express what you are feeling vocally or in writing. This can mitigate the feelings of overwhelm and calm down the body’s stress response. Acceptance of uncertainty will allow us the mental space to focus on the here and now. Reaching out to others and offering emotional and/or practical support, engaging with friends, and indulging in creative and fun activities can also help to manage uncertainty. (You can refer to the Reminder Tips for Parents in previous blog).
Self-care and self-nurturing are vitally important at this time, making sure that we’re sleeping well, eating well and staying hydrated. Drinking water is known to be essential to our emotional and mental health as well as our physical health.
This, what seems like an extended vacation time, is the ideal time for all children everywhere to let their creative juices flow! Even as they attempt to keep up with some level of formal academic work, there is less time assigned to this at present and more time is being spent on finding different, creative, practical and more innovative ways to both learn and play.
Here are some suggestions to add to your growing toolbox/playbox:
As the uncertainty shifts beneath our feet and plans for reopening are being laid out, parents need to find ways to stay grounded and maintain stability for their children. Planning ahead and remembering to look after yourself are key to effective coping.
MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY :
To end with a quote:
"The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments".
Thich Nhat Hanh
Managing Pandemic-Related Anxiety
Anxiety in and of itself is not bad or dangerous. It is in fact a very natural part of the human experience. Anxiety helps to motivate and energize us to complete many important tasks such as studying for and writing exams, preparing for presentations, organizing events, executing household chores and providing care for those around us. When anxiety increases it can feel uncomfortable, and when it becomes extreme it can feel debilitating. When anxiety seriously affects someone’s ability to function in their everyday lives it is usually recommended that they seek professional help to learn how to manage their symptoms.
The below steps are some practical approaches that can be helpful to parents and care givers when dealing with pandemic-related anxiety:
Lystra Mahabir-Mongroo BA/BSW, MSW.