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:

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.

Managing Anxiety and Worry Around COVID-19

Have you noticed your anxiety levels rising around the COVID-19 outbreak?

Do you find yourself worrying about what the illness means for you, your family and your friends?

Are you struggling to adapt to the ever-changing news stories, event cancellations and economic fluctuations?

You’re not alone. We’re all in this situation together: sharing the same worries.

The American Psychological Association has recently offered some strategies for managing the inevitable stress and fear that arises in situations like these where there are so many unknowns. Check them out:

Five Ways to View Coverage of the Coronavirus

Corona Virus

Tips

New reports about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, becoming more widespread are making some people anxious. Here are some tips to help you manage your anxiety, put news reports in perspective and maintain a positive outlook.

  1. Keep things in perspective. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that the number of confirmed infections in the U.S. is extremely low. The fact that there is a great deal of news coverage on this issue does not necessarily mean that it presents any threat to you or your family.
  2. Get the facts. It is helpful to adopt a more clinical and curious approach as you follow news reports about the virus. To that end, you will want to find a credible source you can trust. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage dedicated to information on the coronavirus outbreak. You may also find useful information from local or state public health agencies or even your family physician.
  3. Communicate with your children.  Discuss the news coverage of the coronavirus with honest and age-appropriate information. Parents can also help allay distress by focusing children on routines and schedules. Remember that children will observe your behaviors and emotions for cues on how to manage their own feelings during this time.
  4. Keep connected.  Maintaining social networks can foster a sense of normality and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress. Feel free to share useful information you find on governmental websites with your friends and family. It will help them deal with their own anxiety.
  5. Seek additional help.  Individuals who feel an overwhelming nervousness, a lingering sadness, or other prolonged reactions that adversely affect their job performance or interpersonal relationships should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional. Psychologists and other appropriate mental health providers can help people deal with extreme stress. These professionals work with individuals to help them find constructive ways to manage adversity.

For more ideas about coping with the emotional toll of COVID-19, check out the American Psychological Association’s Help Center.

Gun Ownership, Suicide and Safety

I recently saw this wonderful, sensitive and informative video clip created by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment about firearms and suicide in this state. CDPHE partnered with Jimmy Graham, a firearms instructor at Centennial Gun Club to provide some tips and strategies for keeping guns out of the hands of folks considering suicide.

Some important points brought up in the video:

  • Colorado is consistently ranked in the top 10 states in terms of deaths by suicide
  • Suicidal crises and thoughts are often brief in nature – meaning folks often don’t plan their suicide for long periods of time. It is often an impulsive decision
  • Because of the impulsive nature of many of these decisions, it becomes important to “put time and space between a suicidal person and means” by which they can harm themselves (i.e., a gun)
  • It’s OK to ask a loved one directly if they are thinking about suicide. This WILL NOT make them more likely to attempt suicide, instead it will give them an opportunity to share feelings that can be hard to express.

This video offers important information about how to own guns, while also being mindful of the health and safety of those in our families. Check out this awesome resource:

Addiction – It’s a BIG Problem

Alcohol and drug addiction and abuse are an unfortunate part of life for many Americans. Whether it’s by personal experience, or through watching a friend or loved one struggle, millions of Americans have an experience with drug and/or alcohol addiction each year.

In 2014, more than 16 million adults – that’s about 7% of the population – met criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder. Another 5 million American adults admitted to engaging in risky alcohol use that could lead to addiction in the future.

Alcohol is the most heavily used drug in the United States, followed by marijuana. And unfortunately, recent surveys have found that illicit drug use is on the rise in the United States. Illicit drugs include: marijuana, prescription drugs used other than as prescribed, cocaine, heroine, methamphetamines, etc.

Most people use drugs for the first time as teenagers, and more than half of illicit drug users begin their drug use by using marijuana. Drug use tends to be highest among teenagers and those in their twenties, but recent data suggests that drug use is increasing in people in their fifties and sixties as well.

Drug and alcohol use in children and teens is on the decline overall, with one exception: vaping. As of 2018, vaping among young people had increased dramatically, with 17.6% of 8th graders, 32.3% of 10th graders, and 37.3% of 12th graders admitting to vaping at least once in the last year.

New Office

Just a reminder that I have moved my office to:

671 Mitchell Way

Suite 109

Erie 80516

All contact info is the same:

stephaniesmithpsyd@gmail.com and 303-828-3080

Here are some photos from my new place:

Main Lobby
Waiting room – Come on in and have a seat!
My new (little!) office. Cozy and quiet, with views of Stop and Save (!!) and the occasional critter outside the window. Welcome!