Back to Normal?

The official state of emergency is over here in Colorado, and almost all businesses and schools are back to pre-COVID operations (including my office!)

But for some of us, getting “back to normal” doesn’t feel so normal. It’s tough to know how to navigate relationships, socializing, working and family dynamics in this new, post-COVID era. We have changed in the last year and a half – and so has the rest of the world!

Over a year ago, I wrote this article about re-engaging in the world. It actually seems more relevant now than last summer (I guess it was wishful thinking that the end of COVID was in sight back then). One of my favorite tips:

Read the entire article over at Health eCareers.https://www.healthecareers.com/article/healthcare-news/managing-anxiety-and-fear-as-covid-19-restrictions-ease

A New Year

Happy New Year? Do we still say that to each other this year?

We made it through 2020 at least. And I know we’re all hoping for a better 2021. Fingers crossed!

My office remains open for in-person appointments. My office-mates and I are doing all we can to maintain a safe, clean, comfortable space here in Erie. If you have questions about mental health services, please feel free to contact me by phone (303-828-3080) or by email (stephaniesmithpsyd@gmail.com).

Here’s to a new year filled with good mental health and happiness.

photo credit

A Different Kind of Holiday Season

Well, here we are. The holiday season is upon us, and COVID rages on. We certainly aren’t where we hoped we would be at this point in the pandemic – to say the least.

Typically, this time of year is one of a lot of excitement and anticipation, but it’s also tough on a lot of us. Grief, overwhelming busyness, unrealistic expectations, family strife, financial strain – there are just so many reasons why the end of the year is tough on many Americans’ mental health. I’m wondering if this year might be a little different.

Of course, all of the above struggles (and more) are very real, but I’m wondering if the slower pace of life over the next few weeks will be a relief to some? Will taking a break from holiday parties, family get-togethers, and other holiday-related obligations help us experience the holidays in a different way? Will the forced slow-down of life make us more aware of the things that are really important to us, and more willing to let go of the things that aren’t?

This will likely (hopefully!!!) be the only holiday season in our lifetimes like this. Experts are indicating that by Thanksgiving/Holidays 2021, life will look closer to “normal.” Let’s hope so! But in the meantime, what can we learn from the quietness of this season?

Ready for the Election?

Ready or not, the Presidential election is coming up…in 2 months…in the middle of a pandemic. Yikes! Just when we thought life couldn’t get more dramatic and contentious – here it comes.

I’ve written and spoken pretty extensively about Pre and Post-Election Stress Disorder (terms I made up) in the past. And it looks like some of my thoughts and tips are re-surfacing around the internet again. I recently saw this article over at Yahoo!Life:

In the article were a couple of quotes from me, including this one:

The cool thing is, this tip works great for managing COVID-related stress as well.

Long story short: minimize time on your phone/ipad/laptop. Seriously, consider cutting your screen time by drastic amounts. Good luck out there.

Photo credit: LA Johnson and NPR

Anxious About Getting Back Out There?

Been in your house for the last few months? It can be a little scary to get back out into the world. Socializing is a muscle – when we stop using it, it gets a little rusty. And that can lead to worry and anxiety about getting back out into the world after our COVID-induced isolation.

I recently wrote an article over at Health eCareers about how to manage getting back out there: to BBQ’s, the gym, work, and school. **Obviously each community is re-opening at its own pace, please be mindful of local guidance about current COVID precautions**

Here’s one tip:

Friendships in the Midst of a Pandemic

Everyone has an opinion about what is going on in the world these days. Our elected leaders, scientists, medical professionals, our partners, our neighbors, the guy pumping gas next to us, the lady in line in front of us at Walgreen’s. Everyone. So it’s no surprise that not everyone’s opinions line up.

We don’t all have to agree on everything, but we do need to share this world together. So how do we manage when people – especially friends and those close to us – have differing opinions about COVID, masks, closures, politics, etc?

I recently spoke with MEL Magazine about this very thing. Here are a couple of excerpts:

and

Want to check out the entire article? Check it out here:

Disagreeing About the COVID-19 Response? How To Keep Relationships Intact

Do you find yourself with opinions about what the government is doing (or not doing) to deal with COVID-19? Do your opinions match your family’s? Your friends’? Your neighbors’? No? Well, you’re not alone.

Just like politics, sex, and religion, COVID-19 has turned out to be a topic rife with disagreements.

But if we’ve learned nothing else from this pandemic experience, it’s that relationships are important. In fact, it turns out they’re about the most important things in our lives.

I recently wrote an article over at Health eCareers about how to communicate (effectively) with those with whom you might disagree about how this pandemic is being handled. Hint: keep those conversations civil and brief. Here’s a glimpse into the article:

Check out the entire article here:

Minimizing Media Use – Real Tools for Making Change

UGH! Enough of the onslaught of news, “news” and on-line conversations already. It’s too much. Keeping abreast of the latest goings-on and government orders are one thing, spending hours in deep-dive mode on your phone or tablet is another.

I recently wrote an article over at Health eCareers in which I offered real, do-able strategies for decreasing media and screen time. After all, it’s rarely as easy as saying “I’m just going to look at my phone less.” Yea right. Here’s one idea:

One tip I didn’t write about in the article:

Make use of the tools that are already on your phone! For iphone users, go to Settings –> Screen Time –> Then play around with Downtime, App Limits and Communication Limits options. You can also watch your Daily Activity on the Screen Time page. Monitoring this is one way to keep yourself honest.

Check out the entire article, with ideas for managing both social and traditional media here:

Covid-19 and Teenagers

I recently wrote an article over at Produce for Kids about how to help teenagers cope with the stress, anxiety, worry and grief caused by COVID-19.

Family game night, cute crafts and walks around the neighborhood are probably just not cutting it with the teens in your life. In fact, a Pinterest search for what to do with teenagers during stay-at-home orders turned up very little. And I don’t know about your teens, but mine just don’t want to spend endless hours with me learning new life skills. Ick.

Here’s an excerpt:

Check out the entire article at Produce for Kids.