Reducing stress & anxiety during these uncertain times is paramount. There’s no question about that. The real question is how do you do that effectively for yourself and your family?
According to Mages, “You want to create as much normalcy as possible first and foremost. Whatever that looks like for you, which is really different right now. Being at home, working from home, being your homeschool teacher for your children, it’s all very different.”
“Try to set up a routine for yourself where you’re getting up in the morning at a regular time, getting dressed, for women it may be putting on a bra or makeup. Find some ways to just create that sense of, ‘I’m at work’ or ‘I am doing a job today and it’s serious’ or ‘This is what I’m going to do today’. I know people are enjoying their free time and not having to get out of our pajamas all day. But for mental health, I think it’s important to keep some semblance of a routine, even for the adults.”
Mages continued, “And we need to reach out to our friends and connect with our family members and the people you would normally talk to during the week. It’s really about creating as much normalcy as you can. I know zoom is a great platform for that. A lot of people are having virtual get-togethers as ways to just connect with people. For example, I’ve done a lot of business networking meetings over the last couple of weeks, all via Zoom or a HIPAA compliant platform, if it was with our therapists, and we’re really connecting. People really enjoy it and they crave that connection.”
When host Markus Loving asked her what are some of the benefits and strategies that can help reduce stress and anxiety during this unprecedented time especially with all the different things we’re seeing on the news, hearing on the radio and seeing on social media, Mages answered, “First, I’d like to start with the children and make sure that you’re not giving them so much information that you’re increasing their anxiety. That’s really important. Try keeping that as even-keeled for them as much as possible and let them know what you’re doing to keep your family safe, but not overwhelming them with too much information. Not to mention, this is a great opportunity to really spend that quality time with your family. Go for walks or bike rides together. Play some games, do some projects and have meals together. At the end of the day, implement Glad, G-L-A-D – Something you’re grateful for, something you learned, something you accomplished and something that delighted you that day. ”
During the interview Mages provided additional strategies she recommends for teens, explaining, “Teens really are used to communicating this way. They’re on Snapchat all the time, they’re on Instagram, they’re messaging their friends. So this is common for them. They just can’t be in-person as much. So step it up, allow them to have their phones, allow them to have that interaction. This is something we talk about with parents a lot which is just don’t go to the “regular go-to” of, “Let’s take away your phone” because it is their connection with the outside world which we all need right now. So encouraging them to have that time with their friends, however they can in a safe manner.”
When asked about how she and her team are able to reach their clients during all this social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, Mages explained, “We reach them with our Teletherapy Program. I am currently talking to you from my home office, which used to be my craft room, but it’s now working as my Teletherapy headquarters for our practice. And right now all of our therapists are working remotely, which allows all of our clients to still be seen. We started using Teletherapy in June of 2019 just for emergency situations, inclement weather or clients who couldn’t get to our office for their regular appointment time. We use a HIPAA compliant Teletherapy platform, which is free for our clients to use, and it’s working really well for us especially right now. We pride ourselves on encouraging children, engaging teens, and empowering families. And so we’re getting really creative in how we’re providing those services to our clients, so they don’t have to have a gap in services, especially during this challenging time where children, teens, parents, and families – everybody’s altogether, which can be great, but it could also be very stressful.”
The interview concluded with Mages saying “Be kind to yourself. I know that may sound very cliché, but everybody’s trying the best they can right now. It’s not going to be perfect. I already mentioned that screen time waiver because this is survival mode. And also maybe asking yourself, ‘Do I have what I need to do well with this situation or could I use some encouragement and some help?’ Markus, you talked about a coach and one of the things that we can do a little bit differently than coaches who often offer a lot of the same strategies. Because we are therapists, we can bill insurance and we are in-network for Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO and some of the HMOs. In fact, the HMOs have just now waived all the copays during this time so people can get their services and not have to worry about paying copays even while they’re in-network. So that makes it really easy for them to access services. If they don’t have a support group, there’s a lot of ways to find that on social media. We’ve created a complimentary parent support group. We’re going to have one regularly, so stay tuned on our North Shore Family Services Facebook page and Instagram to see when those are coming up. They’re all on Zoom and we make sure that everybody changes their name so it doesn’t have identifying information on there so they can just have their initials or something while they’re speaking and they can speak freely and get some advice from peers as well as our staff members. And we’re going to be offering that not only in the evenings but also during the day for when kids are in e-learning and parents need support. We just want to offer this parenting program for those who just need that extra boost right now. I’m more concerned about people losing their jobs and maybe losing their insurance and this is a way to keep connected.”