As therapists, stress is a constant factor affecting our clients and treatment. One topic that frequently creates stress is current events. While normal life stresses such as work concerns, parenting, and relationships can already create havoc, trying to keep anxious thoughts and feelings under control when the outside world seems unpredictable or dangerous can be even more difficult.
Media of all types has a clear interest in ensuring you feel something when consuming its content – including social media. Think of local TV news asking ominous questions like: “What could be lurking in your water supply? Tune in tonight at 10 for more!” It’s easy to see why advertisements like this or intense posts on social media can affect our mood and outlook on the world – it’s scary to think something dangerous may be in the water supply!
With news alerts and social media feeds continuing to allow us to see the gritty reality of issues like politics, war, or hunger, it’s hard to know what to do, how to help, or even how to stop focusing on problems for a while so you can mentally recover. Giving yourself time to recharge can help ensure you manage the anxiety and feelings of powerlessness that can accompany while staying engaged with the world. Let’s take a look:
1. Map What You Can Control
When an event, issue is making headlines, it can be natural to feel worry or stress. In these situations, it can be a good practice to reflect on your place in the world in relation to the issue.
Consider: If the issue does not affect you personally and you’re not in a position of influence or power to affect changes directly, making that fact explicit in your mind can help calm your nerves. Keeping this in mind can even help you more effectively engage in methods that actually can affect the issue you feel passionately about. You’ll spend less time worried about things that are out of your control and can use that time to find ways to help or engage in ways available to you.
2. Do What You Can
As you map what is and is not within your control, it’s likely you’ll realize that even with the most far-flung issues, there will be things that you can control and ways you can contribute. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant the area of contribution may be, taking action can not only help solve the issue, but also help you manage your feelings by feeling more ownership and security in your own place in the world.
Even if you can’t solve the problem directly, being part of what you see as the solution can take care of the nagging, critical part of your mind that says “you’re not doing enough”.
3. Know (and Accept) Your Limits
Even if you find a good way to contribute to solving the issue you’re worried about, it’s important to remember you’re only one person and your ability to help is limited by definition.
Be honest with yourself about how much of any given resource (money, volunteer time, even attention!) you can commit to an issue. Giving yourself permission to set limits for your contribution, no matter the form, can help avoid the feelings of powerlessness that can come from seeing what seems like a steady barrage of problems.
Be sure to adhere to your limits as well, even when it’s hard. The key is to keep yourself able to engage with finding solutions to our larger problems without becoming so bogged down that you end up burnt out and disengaged.
Stresses from outside sources can affect anyone. Let’s talk about it. Call 319-320-7506 to schedule an appointment today.
About the Author
Pete Campie, LMFT sees individuals, couples and families in Cedar Rapids, IA or online. He offers early morning or daytime appointments.
Ever since I heard her talk about it, I have been fascinated by it and now use it often with my clients.
The first way we gather information is from our rational, logical thinking brain. We use this information to make decisions and process events. This is also how we know our age, our location, how to do math, and how to make sense out of complicated situations.
Another way we gather information is through our bodies. Our stomach growls, and we realize we are hungry. Our body shivers, and we know we are cold. We may not have cognitively thought “I am cold” or “I am hungry” until we experienced it first through our bodies.
The third way we gather information is through our emotions. We feel off today but can’t pinpoint why. We feel sad or angry suddenly and didn’t expect those feelings. We may feel disappointed or disconnected and not know why.
We may also be really in tune with the way we feel and make choices based on this emotional knowing. Our American culture can look down on relying heavily on this information. It is often seen as a positive to make logical decisions and a negative to make emotional decisions. Our culture gives more credit to cognitive knowing, less credit to emotional knowing, and almost no credit to bodily knowing.
I have seen transformation happen as people begin to value all three ways of gathering information and integrating them into one knowledge system. This holistic approach to knowing honors the parts of us that store information differently. Our bodies and emotions store information without the understanding of time and place. The result of this is we often react to conflict out of an emotional or bodily place that doesn’t know how old we are or understand we are a safe place. After this reaction, our cognitive thinking parts talk down to us for handling a situation in such an immature or childish way. Using an integrated system of knowing, we are able to understand our reactions because our emotions were acting their age, and our body may have given us warning signs to help us calm down.
One of the first things I think is important for people going through the grief process to understand is that there’s no right way to grieve, and no two people will grieve the same way. So, even in a situation where a husband and wife may have lost a child, they’ve had the same loss, but they’re grieving in their own separate ways. It’s important to know that it’s okay that you’re doing it the way you need to do it. A lot of times, when a person experiences a loss, they’re really struggling because the people around them always want them to be okay. And they never feel like they have a place where they can go and just talk about that loved one that they lost. That’s what we try to create for you in therapy is a place where you can talk about that person all you want, you can talk about their memory, you can talk about things you miss about them. You can talk about the way people are treating you, you can talk about what you need from others, and you can learn how to share with others what you need from them.
As a therapist, I find working with people through their grief is a really moving experience. I have several clients that are going through this process right now. I am very comfortable sitting with someone who is right in the throes of it, and I understand the deep dark hole feeling that there is, and it goes away. You just have to give it time. And I understand that it’s such a cliche to say that, but it really does get better with time. When you’re willing to share with someone your feelings, it helps take that burden off just a little bit and makes it, so you don’t have to carry it by yourself anymore. I want to encourage anyone who’s maybe seen a therapist before, whether it’s for grief or any other issue that you might be having, that if you didn’t connect with that first therapist, that’s not your fault. It just means that person wasn’t right for you. So please reach out to someone else, and you may have to interview a few people until you find the right person, and that’s okay. It’s important to have help, and if you really need it, you will find the right person because there are a lot of caring people out there who want to help you and want to make a difference for you. If you’re experiencing any of the things that I was talking about, please feel free to reach out. I’m currently accepting new patients. So please feel free to give us a call or go to the website.
“So, outside my time in therapy, I have three kids, one is 13, one is seven, and one is two.
So, I really don’t have any free time, don’t believe that I have any free time. I chase kids all the time. When I do manage to steal a moment for myself, I really like to be outdoors, I’m a really big sports fan, I spend time with family, but most of the time yeah, you’ll either catch me at the lake or chasing kids.
Oh, that’s a good one. So, I’ve had the mustache for about a year. When you’re in grad school for therapy they always tell you, as a man, to grow facial hair because I’m kind of young. I’m only 31 so they tell you to grow facial hair that way people think you’re distinguished and know what you’re talking about. So that’s how I did it, with the Stache.
My favorite of my tattoos would be this one. Leon is my son’s name, and one of my clinical focuses is co-parenting. And I think I’m good at that or at least passable at that, because I too am divorced, and a co-parent. So not only is it significant kind of clinically but it’s also of course significant because I love my son.
Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit about me. I am accepting new clients right now; I have availability in the mornings and in the afternoons. So, if you want to visit our website or give us a call you can ask for Pete. I’ll be excited to learn a little bit more about you when we meet each other.”
“Hi, my name is Pete Campie. I’m a marriage and family therapist at Cedar Rapids Counseling Center, and today I wanted to talk a little bit about how to get the most out of your therapy session if you’re doing it via telehealth. No matter what platform you’re using to do it via telehealth there are challenges that come up that are specific to video conferencing and can really hamper your ability to get the most out of those sessions. As therapists, we are, of course, doing a lot more sessions, via teleconference, and you know with that experience we’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. These can really help you minimize distractions and really find what you’re looking for out of those sessions, even if it is something that you’re doing on your computer or your phone.
Well, my first tip is to really be mindful of the time and try to get the most out of each minute that you can. Most of our sessions will last about an hour, it’s good to have a drink, it’s good to have you know, access to anything you might need over the course of that hour, just so that you don’t break up the continuity or have to get up and leave or something like that. Which, you know, when we’re talking about feelings can definitely be can be a challenge or a roadblock.
The second focus area that I wanted to cover was distractions, mostly because they’re everywhere. Whether you’ve got kids, pets, maybe a loud partner in the other room, all those things can really make it hard to focus on what you’re trying to focus on in your therapy session. Now obviously we can’t do anything about the guy with no muffler blowing down your road, but if you work on managing the distractions that you can predict, hopefully, the distractions that you can’t predict will be less disruptive.
The last piece of getting the most out of your teletherapy session is technical issues. Since these are done on your computer, on your phone it’s very common to have issues with the camera, issues with the microphone, even issues with your Wi-Fi. What I find to be helpful is to test these things out before you get on to your session. You know, maybe five or 10 minutes before the session, see if you can get your computer camera working, make sure that it’s pointing in the right direction. Make sure that you don’t have any cords that you might trip on or anything that could be in the way. As far as your physical setup, but also your computer setup, you know, if you have push notifications that frequently come across the phone, mine always made this really loud ding. So, you might want to silence those as well if you’re planning to do your session on your phone.
Thanks for taking the time to listen to a few of these tips and tricks to get the most out of your telehealth session, hopefully, some of them have been useful. If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about me or the Cedar Rapids Counseling Center, feel free to visit our website, give us a call. I am accepting new clients, and I do sessions, both in-person and via telehealth so if you’d like you can put all these tips to use when you talk to me.”