So by now I can imagine that we are all suffering from a serious case of cabin fever and want out of the house. Here in Alabama we are currently under a mandated Safer At Home act that includes wearing masks and continuing to practice social distance. This means that most social events and events where large crowds may gather are limited. While all of these measures are great to reduce the chances of a potential COVID 19 outbreaks, it really pushes you to create hobbies and explore to outdoor activities. This makes for a great time to implement a consistent self-care routine. Here are a few self-care ideas that you could implement right away.
Physical Exercise/ Fitness
Establishing a physical exercise routine is extremely important at this time. I know you rolled your eyes after this statement but it is true! Exercise does not only improve your physical body it also encourages emotional balance and is a great stress reliever. Moving your body for 20-30 minutes a day can drastically improve your mood and provide you with energy.
Personal Grooming/ Skin Care
Providing your skin and overall body with some much needed TLC is very important. Grab a loofah and some body scrub and start exfoliating your body. Give yourself a facial and try those amazing clay masks. Establish a consistent skincare routine that improves problem areas on the face and body or schedule an actual facial from a licensed aesthetician. If you need assistance with where to begin, research various YouTube channels that focus on skin care recommendations with before and after content.
Dust off those journals, get those art supplies out of the back of the closet, tend to that overgrown garden, or find those adult coloring books and pencils. This may be a great time to explore some new hobbies. Take a virtual cooking class, visit an outdoors vineyard to become inspired, start a fall garden, use a color by number coloring book, start a home improvement project, take your easel outdoors and be inspired to paint a beautiful portrait. If all fails, take a trip to Hobby Lobby and I am sure you will come up with something creative.
Attend an outdoors retreat or Yoga session
Another great idea to practice self-care during this time will be to attend a yoga or outdoors retreat. I have seen several promotions for outdoors yoga at my local gym and within the community. There are also a ton of free yoga videos online that you can also do at home with a mat. Yoga encourages mindful breathing and assists with stretching muscles to make your more relaxed. My favorite YouTube Yoga instructor is Yoga with Adrienne. She is absolutely amazing for beginners!
Book a Massage/ Chiropractic visit
OMG have you ever had a deep tissue massage? If you haven't I absolutely encourage you to do so. The first massage may not be as comfortable if you are sensitive to touch but your second visit should be better. Most massage therapists have an eclectic massage list that includes hot rock massages, deep tissue, spot massages, zen sessions, Swedish massages and even acupuncture. Do yourself a favor and search Groupon for a massage session and I can assure you that you will likely include this into your self-care routine permanently.
I hope you will use these suggestions to activate a healthy self-care routine and actually apply it to your daily life to prevent emotional disturbances and to improve your overall health and happiness .
As I sit here typing ways to cope with COVID-19 I am overwhelmed with tears. For the first time in my life, I am afraid and without solution. I feel a sense of gloom as I continue to try to preserve some insight and encouragement for my clients. I am naturally a problem solver and I have made a good living due to my quick processing and ability to produce solutions to problems quickly. But this is one problem I can not fix. I feel like everything is out of my grasp. I feel the exact uncertainty that my clients feel and for the first time ever, I have no path to a definite solution. My temporary solution to me, my family and friends, and clients have been to simply BE.
I have also explored several calming strategies to assist me during this time to keep my mental health balanced and well.
1. Stick to or formulate a routine. Go to sleep and awake at a reasonable time.
2. Go outside. I would recommend outside of your house or take a neighborhood walk. Please maintain safety while going outside and avoid any large groups.
3. Find a way to move! Dust off those home videos and pop in those walking DVD's that helped you lose weight 10 years ago. Also YouTube has an array of dance videos to help you keep moving. Get the kids involved also!
4. Eat well and stay hydrated. I know it is cliche but it is time to eat healthier and well balanced meals. This boosts your immune system and reduces the chances of you battling depression or anxiety. Drinking plenty of water also helps with mental clarity and reduces over-eating. Learn how to cook a new healthy dish!
5. Lower expectations and spend more time with the members of the household. We all will benefit in practicing acceptance therapy right now. Spending time with our loved ones that are inside the home also gives us a sense of togetherness. Do not stress yourself about matters outside of the home and reduce focusing on the sense of doom that is being projected.
6. Take a social media and news time-out. Just unplug it and disconnect for a few days!
7. Practice mindfulness. Practice Yoga, do guided meditation, do a 10 minute breathing exercise. Stretch each morning.
8. Help Others. Explore ways that you can assist your community at this time.
9. Explore a hobby or complete a long-term project. Write that book you have been thinking about.
10. Reach out for help. Talk to your Therapist via telehealth and utilize the support of teachers for your child's e-learning. Do not be afraid to say that you do not understand and do not feel like a burden to those who have been placed in your life to assist you.
I hope these things help you in coping with the COVID-19 crisis. If you need help with #10, please give us a call today to schedule a confidential telehealth therapy session from the comforts of your home. We are here for you and we share in the uncertainty and grief that this virus has caused. This too shall pass and we will overcome this trying time. Lets just all remember that it is fine to simply BE as we go through the waves of confusion that this situation brings.
The holidays are quickly approaching and a growing topic trend has been present within the practice. Most of my clients are really unsure if they want to participate in family gatherings for the holidays due to added stress and uncomfortable moments. Most of my clients report that they are constantly asked very intrusive questions about their lives along with the family insinuating that they move along quickly to meet societal/family norms. Some examples are: asking when they will get married, what they are studying while in college, asking about their future career plans, asking couples when they will start trying to have a baby, asking them if they are dating or seeing anyone, commenting about weight loss or weight gain, asking about mental health diagnosis or intimate medical conditions. These are just a few intrusive questions that family members feel comfortable asking. This can be a nightmare for introverts or people who feel that these topics are both personal and taboo. The thought of seeing that intrusive aunt, uncle, grandmother or grandfather could cause some serious anxiety and could result in some people avoiding family gatherings all together. The end result of these embarrassing moments have even caused relapse in depression and anxiety symptoms and sometimes suicidal thoughts.
My advice is to first make a decision about going to the family gathering or staying home. This is ultimately your choice and try to be confident in your decision to reduce feelings of guilt. You can also try to use assertive communication and simply inform your family members that you are not interested in discussing this during the gathering and you would like to enjoy spending time with them. You can also change the subject or merge the conversation into something cheerful by interjecting with a fun memory or by telling a clever joke. You may also simply say that this information is personal and you are not comfortable answering. Either way you do not have to answer uncomfortable questions that may you feel uncomfortable. Do what makes you feel happy this holiday season and possibly creating your own traditions will help to ease some of the anxiety or depression you may be feeling regarding participating in family holiday celebrations. You could also option to participate in a charity event or encouraged the family to as well, this will leave little to no room for intrusive questions or embarrassing moments.
Remember this is a season to practice gratitude and to share happy and positive memories, you get to decide how you want to remember the 2019 holiday season.
-Sharika Pruitt, LPC
Spring time is often thought of as a season of rejuvenation and growth for nature and we may also correlate these aspects to humans. Most adults are busy cleaning and de-cluttering their homes and offices to bring about a Spring like charm to their environment. We must do this same thing when it comes to our mental health. Are you coming off of the residual emotional effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)? Are you experiencing fatigue from the Winter months? Well this is a great time to go within and do some Spring Cleaning of the mind! I know we often think of Spring as a happy and joyous time that promotes growth in abundance but honestly you are entitled to define each season to your very own level of comfort. Maybe Spring means you can get outside more, you may can walk your dog after a stressful day at work, spend an evening at the park with your family, or simply start an exercise regimen. I like to think of Spring as a time to put my goals in action. I often de-clutter my home and get things clean and organized, I often spend more hours outside (If pollen permits) and implement a walking routine at the local track to get my exercise in. Spring reminds me of the concept of patience. Most of the days are rainy and cool but some days are warm and sunny. It offers a great balance and promotes the duality of life. For those reasons alone, Spring is one of my favorite seasons of them all. What can you incorporate this Spring? Are you still working on your New Year’s resolutions or have they fallen by the waste side. If they have, this would be a great time to start things back up. Yes I know we feel the pressure of exercising fiercely to get to our summertime bodies but pacing yourself, just as the elements of spring does, may present a better solution to you sticking with your goals. Whatever you decide to do this Spring, just remember that spring is about growth and rejuvenation.
Start a self-care journal and check off some of the things that
you would like to accomplish for yourself. Get a massage, get a pedicure (especially if you are
like me and brave it all winter), get a facial, participate in Water Zumba, or simply set aside a
mental health day for yourself. Just remember that You deserve a Spring!
“Yes, I deserve a spring–I owe nobody nothing.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary
Sharika Pruitt, LPC
It’s not unusual for young people to experience "the blues" or feel "down in the dumps" occasionally. Adolescence is always an unsettling time, with the many physical, emotional, psychological and social changes that accompany this stage of life.
Unrealistic academic, social, or family expectations can create a strong sense of rejection and can lead to deep disappointment. When things go wrong at school or at home, teens often overreact. Many young people feel that life is not fair or that things "never go their way." They feel "stressed out" and confused. To make matters worse, teens are bombarded by conflicting messages from parents, friends and society. Today’s teens see more of what life has to offer — both good and bad — on television, at school, in magazines and on the Internet. They are also forced to learn about the threat of AIDS, even if they are not sexually active or using drugs.
Teens need adult guidance more than ever to understand all the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. When teens’ moods disrupt their ability to function on a day-to-day basis, it may indicate a serious emotional or mental disorder that needs attention — adolescent depression. Parents or caregivers must take action.
Dealing With Adolescent PressuresWhen teens feel down, there are ways they can cope with these feelings to avoid serious depression. All of these suggestions help develop a sense of acceptance and belonging that is so important to adolescents.
Recognizing the Warning SignsFour out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warnings. Pay attention to these warning signs:
Spring is in the Air! Well if you are in the South, you know Spring has not quite sprung yet. Spring offers a great opportunity to clean some of your old habits and implement a fresh start. I encourage most of my clients to seek ways to improve their self-care by first organizing their environment. I suggest starting with cleaning and organizing your home and even planting beautiful plants outside. I also suggest making a schedule of each task you would like to complete and tracking your progress. I decided to clean my closet this spring and I was so impressed about how I began to think clearly and not feel overwhelmed due to this unfinished task being completed. I believe that once we start to de-clutter our environment it purifies our thoughts and provides some additional mental space, which then provides with you with a sense of peace.
People in Your Life
If you are an Empath, you probably like me, carry everyone's baggage and problems. While you are working towards detoxing your home and promoting positive mental health, look at the people that are around you. Ask yourself if those around you beneficial to you and if the will hurt or harm your ability to achieve positive mental health. If the answer is no, it may be time to do some spring cleaning and remove those people from your life. Think of it this way, once you clean your home, would you allow someone with muddy boots to track mud on your freshly cleaned carpet? Absolutely not! You would tactfully ask that person to remove those boots or leave your home. Sometimes we have to ask those in our life causing stress or aiding in negative mental health to either become supportive or leave our lives. This includes family members, friends and significant others. This can be a difficult boundary to set for loved ones, significant others or family members but I strongly believe that if a person is bringing negative energy or abuse into your space, it may be time to separate from that individual. You will feel relieved once that bad energy is removed from your space and it will provide an opportunity to practice self-care.
I Cleaned, Now What?
Now that you have done some spring cleaning, it is now time to practice self-care! Treat yourself to a spa day, get a manicure/pedicure, read that book that you have not read since last summer, plan a family vacation, take a walk, go camping, get that passport and book a cruise, invite family over for dinner, have lunch with friends, dance the night away, or simply plan a rest weekend and do absolutely nothing. Practicing self-care is very important in achieving positive mental health. The bills, family drama, work related stress, and other worries will always be there! Try focusing on you this season and all year long. I challenge you to plan 2 self-care days each month this season and please comment below how this has assisted you in achieving positive mental health and even encouraged you to focus more on your personal needs. Remember you can not pour from an empty cup and what overflows is for everyone else....fill that cup up and give everyone else the overflow!
The holidays are approaching and if you battle with depression or anxiety, you are probably not too excited to see it coming. While the holiday season is a happy and joyful time for most people, it can be a time of sadness and depression for many. With the glamorizing of the Christmas holidays, most people suffering with depression may view this season as a feeling of ultimate dread filled with unrealistic expectations. The overwhelming family gatherings, Christmas parties, and other holiday events may be more than enough to push someone who is experiencing depression over the edge.
So how do you avoid holiday depression triggers? A good starting point is simply realizing that you can control how you celebrate the holidays. Focus on the positive things in your life and start developing personal goals that you would like to accomplish in the new year. Complete a vision board, renew your health and wellness, start blogging, turn one of your hobbies into a business, or practice mindfulness. You can also use this time to spend time with your nuclear family and maybe opt out of huge family gatherings. This method has worked better for me and my family. I usually spend Thanksgiving at a huge family gathering but have limited my Christmas holiday for me and my immediate family.
Remember the holidays are simply what you make it and you can choose how you want to celebrate. If you find that your depression continues after the holiday season, please schedule an appointment with a Licensed Counselor.