With November here, the holiday season is officially underway. This time of year is typically associated with warm, happy emotions full of joy and cheer; however, for a lot of us, this season may bring with it anxiety, stress, and depression. This can be due to things such as a tighter budget, extra commitments, and this year – an ongoing pandemic. At Garrett Counseling we understand how difficult the holidays can be, so we want to share a few tips to help you take care of your mental health this year:
Set Realistic Expectations: Rather than striving for perfection or to replicate a previous year’s celebrations, set reasonable and attainable goals for this year. For example, cooking a meal where every dish is homemade may not be a realistic goal, but cooking one or two dishes from scratch could be attainable. (At the end of this blog, Garrett Counseling’s Megan Campbell shares two of her favorite recipes for the holiday season!) Take time to discover what is reasonable for you this year and make that your goal.
Set Healthy Boundaries: There is only so much you can do this season. Saying “yes” to every invitation you receive may leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Rather than over committing yourself, say “no” to those activities for which your schedule does not have room.
Plan Ahead: Look at what you hope to do for the holidays, and try to plan out as much as you can ahead of time. Think about things such as deciding on a budget, who you want to purchase gifts for and making a list, designating a shopping day, and writing out the menu and ingredient list. By planning ahead, you can help eliminate some of the stress that comes with last minute decisions.
Get Outside: In the winter, we tend to spend a lot more time inside. Taking the time to bundle up and get outside can provide you with some mental health benefits such as providing an opportunity to clear your mind and reducing stress.
Keep Up Healthy Habits: As tempting as it can be to take a break from a healthy routine during a busy time of the year, make an effort to maintain positive habits. Neglecting healthy habits can leave you with feelings of stress and guilt once the season is over. This could mean continuing therapy, being as consistent as you can with your sleep schedule, or balancing indulgent treats with healthy snacks.
Garrett Counseling’s Megan Campbell says:
“The holiday season means something different for everyone. Some might find it exciting while others might find it discouraging. Be kind to others this season but also be kind to yourself. Practice self-care whether it be by watching the sunrise, going for a walk or cuddling up in a blanket with hot chocolate or coffee, give yourself a chance to rest.”
We hope you have a wonderful holiday season. If our counselors can support you during this season, please contact us by calling (256) 239-5662 or online by clicking here.
Two of Counselor Megan’s Favorite Recipes:
Chex™ Holiday Muddy Mix
Sometimes during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, you need a recipe that is simple to put together! Megan says “Chex Mix is always a go to that is quick and easy. This is one of my favorites.”
**This original recipe, along with extra tips and a step-by-step video, can be found on the Chex™ website.
The Best Crockpot BBQ Chicken
While sometimes you may need something simple and quick, other times you may find yourself with the time and energy for something with a few more steps! Megan says, “Crockpot BBQ Chicken is another favorite, and it is a great comfort food with homemade mashed potatoes.”
**This original recipe, along with pictures and a step-by-step video, can be found on the Family Fresh Meals website.
Imagine is a great product for parents, educators, and counselors looking to connect children to feelings of inner peace and calm while also empowering them for personal growth. Through meditation and mindfulness, this deck first teaches children basic breathing exercises to help the child learn to relax, balance their thoughts, and experience feelings as they ebb and flow. Once the child is able to engage in the breathing experience, you choose another card to guide you through an experience. This ranges from cards focusing on abundance of joy to visual imagery embracing feeling safe and empowered. The deck has 26 guided meditations for kids of all ages that can lower stress while increasing self-esteem and resilience to stress.
My favorite part, besides the ease to engage children, is the beautiful artwork and language to bring the child into the present moment using all senses. I highly recommend for counselors who want to expand their collection of tools. However, it is so easy to practice that parents can greatly benefit from using these at bedtime or during “time in” where a child is working to self-soothe and return to a normal state of self-regulation.
The cards can be found here.
During this time, many of us are grieving. Some may be grieving the death of a loved one; some may be grieving other types of loss like the loss of a job or cancelled special events, such as graduations and weddings. No matter what type of grief you are experiencing, it’s important for us to learn healthy ways to cope with grief and how to support one another during this time of physical isolation.
Coping with Grief
What are some ways we can cope with our grief? First, remember to practice self-care. Set aside some time to take care of yourself and do something you enjoy – it could be going for a run, soaking in a warm bath, or finding a quiet place to read. Whatever self-care looks like for you, take time for that activity! Second, it is important to remind yourself that what you are feeling is valid. Sometimes, we find ourselves downplaying our grief with thoughts like “It really could be worse, look what this person is experiencing.” Remind yourself that another person’s circumstances do not take away from your own. Your grief is valid. Your emotions are valid. Next, seek connection and support! While we are living in a time where we are having to be more physically distant, connection with our loved ones is still important. Staying connected during this time may mean utilizing tools like phone calls, text messages, video chats, or even handwritten letters. If you need additional support, reach out to a professional who can help you through your grief journey. Finally, allow yourself time. Grief is not typically something that goes away in a matter of days or even weeks. Allow yourself the time you need to grieve!
Garrett Counseling’s Sandra Owens shares this message of hope:
To me grief is like being at the bottom of a deep, dark, dank well. Sometimes it feels hopeless and I want to give up. Everything seems so bleak. Then one day I realize there has been help waiting for me to do my part in getting out of the well. I just didn’t see it. That’s when I understand there is always hope for change. – Hope by Sandra Owens, MSW, LICSW, PIP
Supporting a Grieving Loved One
When our loved ones are grieving, it can be hard to know how to best support them. First, take the time to listen to them. Often, the temptation is to try to offer advice, but our loved ones need someone willing to listen to them talk about what they are facing. Next, validate how they feel and refrain from minimizing their pain. Even when you don’t completely understand what they are going through, their grief and emotions are valid. Remind them of that! Third, ask your loved one how you can help support them. Is there a task you can take off their plate, can you organize a virtual hangout with your friend group, or could you have their favorite food delivered to them. Don’t be afraid to ask what would be helpful! Lastly, stay connected with your grieving loved one, especially during this time of physical separation. Try to reach out regularly with a quick phone call or text.
Odds are, we are all grieving something during this pandemic. That is why it is so important for us to know how to cope with our own grief and how to support our loved ones who are grieving. If you are in need of additional help as you are grieving, please reach out to your counselor or contact us!
Garrett Counseling stands in solidarity with our Black counselors, community, and clients. We support the Black Lives Matter movement, protesters, and any other activists, communities, and leaders who fight systemic and institutionalized racism. Now is the time for us, as a society, to listen to our Black leaders, colleagues, friends, neighbors, and family members. We must not expect our Black Americans to comfort our discomfort, nor should we expect them to answer our questions when we have had more access to historical, cultural, and educational resources than ever before. For those familiar with racism and the insidious and detrimental effects, Garrett Counseling sees you, hears you, and stands with you. We know this is still not enough, and it will never be until White supremacy and institutionalized racism is dismantled. We commit to continuing this fight for true justice. We have a long way to go, but we must continue. We must take action.
For Counselors: Key to the counselor identity is striking a balance between individual counseling and our role as social justice advocates with the ultimate goal of challenging the status quo that perpetuates world-wide inequities, while simultaneously addressing clients’ immediate concerns. Our advocacy identity should be evident across all of the roles we hold (e.g., counselors, counselor educators, supervisors, researchers, leaders, and citizens). Therefore, we must work to increase our self-awareness and other-awareness, to be diligent in recognizing and addressing issues of power and oppression in our clinical settings, classrooms, communities, and our research (ACA, Social Justice Counseling Competencies, 2020 statement).
Essential workers have found themselves in the spotlight and on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. This time has caused us to take a deeper look at what an essential worker is… What at one point was healthcare workers and first responders, now includes even more workers – those working in grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturing, delivery, and more are all now included in this group of workers.
These essential workers are facing an increased amount of stress and anxiety. Garrett Counseling’s Clinical Director, Ginger Caudell, helps clients with anxiety, stress, and depression, and she offers great insight to the concerns these workers are facing. She says, “Essential worker concerns range from the people who are working at low wages while they face the virus being passed from co-workers in production settings to more highly paid medical professionals who deal with COVID being passed from their patients. Either way, worries about being sick is an issue.” Fear of contracting the virus and facing terrible symptoms or death seems to be a concern for everyone, but the fear is certainly heightened for older individuals.
While concern for health is a primary concern for essential workers, other stressors during this time include difficulty finding childcare and financial strain. Even as public childcare options reopen, public health guidelines make availability limited. For those who rely on grandparents to care for children, there is the added concern that grandparents fall into the category of those at high risk if they contract the virus. Financially speaking, there is the worry of getting sick if one goes into work but the worry of not being about to pay bills if one stays home. Ginger says, “It is highly anxiety evoking to be scared of getting sick when you go to work while also being scared of not going to work all occurring at the same time. It does seem to indicate a new type of injustice when the people with the lowest income are the least able to worry about the virus, but instead to worry about the aftermath of the virus.”
So, how can essential workers cope with the stress they are facing? Engage in healthy activities (such as keeping a consistent sleep schedule when possible and getting fresh air each day), stay connected with friends and family, and seek help when needed are a few ways!
Maybe you are reading this, and you are not an essential worker but someone you love is. Two important ways you can support your loved one is to listen and stay connected. Take the time to reach out to ask how they are doing and really listen to what they say!
At Garrett Counseling, we are committed to helping our clients navigate these unique times. If we can help you, please reach out to your counselor or contact us for more information.
Unprecedented times, like the current stay-at-home orders, can add stress to our relationships with those we love. When learning to make adjustments like working from home or spending more time at home, it’s understandable that people are asking the question, “How can my partner and I stay connected during the coronavirus ‘lockdown’?” We put together a few ideas that may help you strengthen your relationship with your partner.
Create Quality Time Together
While “dates” will look different during this time of quarantine, it is still just as important to be intentional about quality time for you and your partner. Couples and Sex Therapist, Leah Simmons says, “For our couples in lockdown, it is important to remind them to create quality time together, which can be with a game, movie or walk… Find ways to be creative and engage in laughter or get out of their comfort zone and have a dance party in any room in the house.”
Communication is always important for relationships, especially during a stressful time.
Between work, kids, and other responsibilities, days can go by quickly! One way to be intentional about communicating is to have daily check-ins. Set a time each day, maybe after the kids go to bed, to check in with your partner about their day. Ask questions like “How are you feeling?” or “How can I support you?” Take this time for each of you to really listen to one another and to communicate your emotions, anxieties, needs, etc.
If both partners are working from home, it may be a good idea to spend just a few minutes each morning reviewing work schedules. This can be especially useful if one or both of you are conducting meetings over video or phone calls!
Leah Simmons says, “If couples want to find new ways to communicate they can create a time to watch Brene Brown’s Call to Courage on Netflix and identify how they can engage in better communication.”
Most likely, you and your partner are not accustomed to being in the house together all day, every day! Leah Simmons says, “It is important for each of them to have some alone time and engage in self-care for themselves so they can better connect with their partner.” Taking time alone to engage in self-care will provide each of you a chance to recharge and reflect, which will strengthen your relationship!
This pandemic is a new experience for all of us, and we are here for you as you navigate it. If you find your relationship needing additional help, please reach out to your counselor or contact us.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, social distancing has become our new normal. Social distancing refers to increasing the amount of space between people in order to slow the spread of the illness. But, for most of us, our new normal probably looks a lot more like only leaving our homes for activities that are absolutely essential. With all of this time at home and away from people we are accustomed to seeing regularly, many people are feeling lonely and disconnected. We want to share a few ideas to help you stay connected to those you love during your time apart:
Did you know that Garrett Counseling recently began offering online counseling, sometimes referred to as teletherapy? We are excited to be able to offer this service to you, especially during a time when you may not be able to come to the office or you just don’t feel comfortable getting out. Our counselors are working hard to support you during this time, including opening their schedules to more appointments and assisting you in the transition to online therapy if you’re interested. This blog is designed to give you all the basic details about online counseling. If you’re interested in learning more about the specific online counseling that we offer at Garrett Counseling, you can get more information by reaching out to your current counselor or by visiting our new online counseling webpage (insert link: https://garrettcounseling.com/online-counseling-services/ ).Continue Reading
Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something that’s important to you. You may feel a variety of emotions, like sadness or loneliness. And you might experience it for a number of different reasons. Maybe a loved one died, a relationship ended, or you lost your job. Other life changes, like chronic illness or a move to a new home, can also lead to grief. Everyone grieves differently, but if you understand your emotions, take care of yourself, and seek support, you can heal. Your feelings may happen in different stages as you come to terms with your loss. Every person goes through these phases in his or her own way. You may go back and forth between them, or skip one or more stages altogether. Continue Reading
As we begin a new year, we tend to reflect on the past and set new goals for ourselves. Perhaps focusing on building connection with your partner is one of the best things you can do for your relationship this year. Think about it: At the beginning of a relationship, we put a great deal of effort into it – going on dates and talking for hours. Then somewhere along the way, we stop doing those things and begin to run on “autopilot.” Relationships thrive when we put effort into them. That’s why in this blog, we’re sharing a few ideas for building intimacy in your relationship.Continue Reading
Water has many benefits for us, and most of us probably aren’t drinking enough! In this blog, we will share a few reasons why you should be drinking more water and a few tips to help you increase your water consumption.
Most of us know that sleep is extremely important to our health – both physical and mental. Yet many Americans report they struggle with getting enough quality sleep! In fact, some studies have found that 40-60 million American adults struggle with sleep issues and disorders (1) and over 60% of American children have difficulty sleeping at least one night each week (2). In this blog, we’ll take a look at why getting enough quality sleep is so important for our mental health, how much sleep is recommended, and advice for improving your sleep quality.
Winter is upon us, and with it comes shorter days and colder weather. This season is known widely for its holidays, snow covered trees (depending on where you live), cozy nights by a fire, and other traditions. But winter is also a time where we see a rise in something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as the “Winter Blues”. In fact, Seasonal Affective Disorder is estimated to affect 10 million Americans, with an additional 10-20% possibly suffering from a milder form. (3)
Throughout this blog, we want to help you understand Seasonal Affective Disorder and give you some practical tips for taking care of yourself this winter.Continue Reading
Today is the final part in our series on coping with stressful events, like the recent storms in Jacksonville, AL. Today, our focus is on adults.
Typical Behaviors: Events like the recent storms can cause a significant amount of stress for adults. This stress can present itself in several different behaviors and symptoms. Some of those behaviors include:
Today, we are moving on in our series about coping with stressful events – like the storms that recently impacted Jacksonville, AL. Today, our focus is on children ages 12-18.
Typical Behaviors: During and following events like these storms, children and adults can experience stress. This stress can manifest itself in a variety of behaviors or symptoms. The behaviors seen most often in children ages 12-18 include:
Today, we are on part two of our series on coping with stressful events, like the recent storms in Jacksonville, AL. Today’s focus is on children ages 7-12.
Typical Behaviors: During and after stressful events, both children and adults can experience significant amounts of stress. This stress can present in a variety of symptoms or behaviors. The behaviors or symptoms typically seen in children ages 7-12 include:
After The Storm: Part 1 (Ages 6 and Under)
Over the next few days, we will be sharing a series of blogs related to coping with stressful events, like the recent storms in Jacksonville, AL. Each blog will focus on different age groups. Today, we are focused on children ages 6 and below.
Typical Behaviors: During and after events, like the recent storms, people can experience a great amount of stress – children are no different. This stress can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms or behaviors. Those most typically seen in children ages 6 and under are:
Wild About You is a children’s book written by Judy Sierra with pictures by Marc Brown. This book illustrates many themes, such as the struggle of wanting to start a family via adoption and how sometimes it takes a village to raise children. One important theme shown by this book is that despite looking different or coming from different backgrounds, the most important factor in adopting a new member into a family is unconditional love provided by the parents. This book also reveals the difficulties in raising a child without an support system. Without help from others, the pandas and the kangaroo would not be successful in raising their adoptive babies. This book would make an excellent tool to help children who may struggle with understanding why some families adopt, or why other families may look different from theirs.
Written by Intern Josalyn
Josalyn is a Senior at Jacksonville State University, double majoring in Psychology and Sociology with an interest in pursuing a career in mental health counseling and advocating for social equality.
One day, as Duncan was getting ready to color in class, he opened his box of crayons only to find a stack of written letters. One by one he opens the letters and begins to read. To his surprise the letters are from the crayons! Letter after letter, color after color, Duncan acknowledges each complaint. But what were the crayons complaining about? Each one had a feeling of being overworked , underworked,unappreciated, and/or misused. Duncan came up with a plan and decided to color one big picture using every color to its best abilities. The Picture was so unique and beautiful that Duncan’s teacher gave him an A+ for creativity.
Activity: Each crayons expresses a different feeling or emotion in the book. Grab a blank paper and go over each individual crayons complaints in the book. Have a conversation with your child about what the crayon is feeling, why it feels that way, and how to resolve those feelings. Then have the child draw the emotions with that specific color or a picture of choice. You can even have them act out a time where they felt the same way, helping to build empathy.Continue Reading
Nature – Based Therapy is becoming the therapy of choice for many counselors, and with research showing positive results, it’s easy to see why! Nature – Based Therapy refers to programs that promote mental health through an on outdoor environment. At Garrett Counseling, we are big proponents of Nature – Based Therapy, and here is why:
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