Category Archives: Tip of the Week

How to Be Supportive Without “Fixing”

It is very human to want to help someone, particularly someone you care about, when you see them stressed out or in pain.  It is also very human to seek validation for your own experiences.  Can you recall a time you needed to be heard, and someone told you what you “should” do instead?  Not very helpful, huh?

As illustrated in the short video below, we can use empathy to be present for others during their struggles as to not fall into “fixing” mode- although well-intentioned, unless your thoughts and advice are requested, you should avoid giving them as to not alienate the person opening up to you, because advice may not be what they are seeking, or what they feel they need right then.  Do not assume what they may need- ask them how you can help them in the moment to support their feelings, not to fix the issue.

Be an active listener, seeking the message being sent to you, instead of thinking of what you want to say next.  You can reflect to the speaker that you heard them by repeating back in your words what they said, asking for clarification, and even just saying things like, “wow, that sounds rough,” and “what a difficult day you had.”  Doing so illustrates that you represent a safe space where the speaker can open up, instead of a person who may be judging or not understanding them.  You can also ask open ended questions, such as, “what happened next?” and “how did that make you feel?”  These invite the speaker to fully express their feelings, and helps you truly hear them.

A discussion between you and the person you care for should occur to help you both articulate the ways that you like to give and receive support in your relationship, and to create space for you both to address issues together, instead of working against each other.  This is pertinent practice for you to advocate for yourself when someone is trying to support you, and for you to know how to best assist someone when called on to do so.

For additional information on supporting and not fixing, check out the following:

It’s Not About The Nail                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EDhdAHrOg

Stop Trying to Fix Things, Just Listen! https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/skills-healthy-relationships/201606/stop-trying-fix-things-just-listen

Relationship Advice: How to Stop “Fixing” and Start Listening https://www.growingself.com/stop-fixing/

How to show up for a friend without trying to fix their problems, according to a therapist                         https://hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/how-to-support-a-friend-without-fixing-problems/

Daily Affirmations for a Positive Mindset

Increasing expectations for productivity and perfection placed on each of us in a world of “Go! Go! Go!” can bring about feelings of frustration, failure, and negativity.  Having a rainbow of emotions is something we all experience and have to manage.   At times, feeling low or upset can make getting through the day seem impossible, and that the world expects you to ALWAYS smile through your pain.  Healthy positivity entails being honest about your feelings and expectations with yourself and others, not expecting or trying to attain perfection, and acknowledging your mood has direct implications on your outlook and output in a given day.

Reciting daily affirmations is a tool to help combat negativity.  You can try the examples below, and may enjoy coming up with your own.  Place them in locations you encounter early in your day, like your bathroom mirror or refrigerator door.  Consider using objects, like keychains, or participating in The Kindness Rocks Project . You can also utilize an app, like ThinkUp (iOS and Android devices.), to search affirmations and record your own, or put an affirmation in the subject line of your phone alarm clock.  Remember: “You are what you think!”

  • I am loved, and I am lovable.
  • I am enough.
  • I let go of past hurts as they no longer serve me.
  • I am capable.
  • I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.
  • I will utilize my talents today.
  • I wake up today with strength in my heart, and clarity in my mind.
  • My fears of the unknown are fading away.
  • I’m getting stronger every day.
  • I can do this.
  • I have the courage to say no.
  • I will not take negativity from others personally.
  • This is my body, and I love it.
  • It is fine for me to make mistakes; I will use them to grow.
  • I will not apologize for being myself.
  • My goals are my focus.
  • Success is in my future.
  • I will not sweat the small stuff.
  • I will work smarter, not harder.
  • I will celebrate the small victories.

NOVACares does not endorse the application referenced above; it is included for illustrative purposes only.

Moving From Racism and Discrimination to Healing and Inclusion

If you have been paying attention to the news and social media outlets in the past week, you undoubtedly have seen events unfolding around policy brutality, racial injustice, and frustrations of many boiling over as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.  One pressing issue on the minds of many is regarding privilege.

Privilege is unseen to those that have it, and we each have to be mindful not to diminish or dismiss experiences, hardships or traumas of others just because it is not our direct experience.  To do so is alienating, and furthers the divide between humans.  Seeking and succeeding in solidarity requires us to give focus to the traits and experiences that highlight commonalities among us instead of solely focusing on what makes us different, and treating those differences as negatives or deficiencies.  Appreciation of those differences will also serve to connect us, if we allow space to appreciate individual and cultural uniqueness.

As the days move forward, many difficult conversations will be had about privilege, community and law enforcement relations, and racial inequality.  You may experience uncertainty about what to do for yourself or others, engage in self-evaluation about personal and implicit biases, and feel diminished hope because the pain feels too great.  However, there are means to maintain hope and contribute to move our community forward.

Ways you can take care of yourself include taking a pause and logging off social media accounts, limiting your news intake, and avoiding comment sections if the content overwhelms you.  Take a moment to think before you type and respond, take deep breaths and disconnect if you need to, and allow yourself to revisit content at a later time. It is okay to ask others about their experiences to gain awareness of perspectives you may not be attuned to, and allow this to bolster your relationships and self-growth.

Ways you can support others include checking in with your family, friends and neighbors, encouraging them to engage in self-care, and linking them to resources if you suspect they are struggling with their mental health.  Hearing your loved ones out on their experiences and thoughts about race relations is a very validating and supportive way to be present for them.

If you or anyone you know is struggling at this time, you can text HOME to 741741 for confidential chat support from trained staff, or call 1-800-273-8255 (available 24/7).

NOVACares Lauches New Mental Health Referral Database for Students, Faculty and Staff

The NOVACares Office is proud to announce that the NOVACares Mental Health Provider Search Database (“NOVACARES Counseling Referral System”) has been upgraded and updated for a more productive search for local mental health providers. The NOVACares Office has personally contacted the 157 providers, as of this writing, in the database to verify their license to practice and requested that they update their profile to include changes in insurances accepted, sliding scale/reduced fees for NOVA, waiting time, accepting new patients, and if they are offering telehealth services. Our listed providers include providers that service Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, and beyond. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to use the database to locate providers matching their search criteria. The NOVACares Office is still recruiting providers to be listed in the database and will conduct an extensive outreach campaign over the summer and fall.

To start your search for a mental health provider visit:  https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/index.html 

Click on Mental Health Provider Database on the left bar.

 

 

 

 

NOVACARES COUNSELING REFERRAL SYSTEM

If you are at risk in anyway (e.g., considering suicide or at risk of other physical harm) please dial 9-1-1 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. You may also visit the your nearest emergency room or contact NOVA police at 703-764-5000. If you would like additional non-emergency support for yourself or another student that you are concerned about, please file a NOVACares report at www.nvcc.edu/novacares.

The providers participating in the database supply their own information about their services. We cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information provided. We are also unable to endorse any particular provider that is listed. It will be important to verify information with the provider that most interests you, including fees and other arrangements. Contact your insurance company if you need to ensure that the clinician you select is a participating provider.

Setting and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries


Boundaries are absolutely vital for healthy relationships- most importantly, your relationship with yourself.  It is a way to maintain balance in your life by learning, acknowledging and holding others to your personal limits.  This supports positive self-image and healthy self-esteem.  For most of us, it is not a skill we were taught, rather, through experience and watching others, we determine what is- and is not- acceptable for each of us.  As this skill can be challenging to develop and maintain, below are some tips from Dr. Dana Gionta for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries (courtesy of Psych Central article, 10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries by Margarita Tartakovsky, MS):

  1. Name your limits.

You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits, Gionta said. Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed.  “Those feelings help us identify what our limits are.”

  1. Tune into your feelings.

Gionta has observed two key feelings in others that are red flags or cues that we’re letting go of our boundaries: discomfort and resentment. She suggested thinking of these feelings on a continuum from one to 10. Six to 10 is in the higher zone, she said.

If you’re at the higher end of this continuum, during an interaction or in a situation, Gionta suggested asking yourself, what is causing that? What is it about this interaction, or the person’s expectation that is bothering me?

Resentment usually “comes from being taken advantage of or not appreciated.” It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits because we feel guilty (and want to be a good daughter or wife, for instance), or someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on us, she said.

“When someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue to us they may be violating or crossing a boundary,” Gionta said.

  1. Be direct.

With some people, maintaining healthy boundaries doesn’t require a direct and clear-cut dialogue. Usually, this is the case if people are similar in their communication styles, views, personalities and general approach to life, Gionta said. They’ll “approach each other similarly.”

With others, such as those who have a different personality or cultural background, you’ll need to be more direct about your boundaries. Consider the following example: “one person feels [that] challenging someone’s opinions is a healthy way of communicating,” but to another person this feels disrespectful and tense.

There are other times you might need to be direct. For instance, in a romantic relationship, time can become a boundary issue, Gionta said. Partners might need to talk about how much time they need to maintain their sense of self and how much time to spend together.

  1. Give yourself permission.

Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls, Gionta said. We might fear the other person’s response if we set and enforce our boundaries. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member. Many believe that they should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because they’re a good daughter or son, even though they “feel drained or taken advantage of.” We might wonder if we even deserve to have boundaries in the first place.

Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect. So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.

  1. Practice self-awareness.

Again, boundaries are all about honing in on your feelings and honoring them. If you notice yourself slipping and not sustaining your boundaries, Gionta suggested asking yourself: What’s changed? Consider “What I am doing or [what is] the other person doing?” or “What is the situation eliciting that’s making me resentful or stressed?” Then, mull over your options: “What am I going to do about the situation? What do I have control over?”

  1. Consider your past and present.

How you were raised along with your role in your family can become additional obstacles in setting and preserving boundaries. If you held the role of caretaker, you learned to focus on others, letting yourself be drained emotionally or physically, Gionta said. Ignoring your own needs might have become the norm for you.

Also, think about the people you surround yourself with, she said. “Are the relationships reciprocal?” Is there a healthy give and take?

Beyond relationships, your environment might be unhealthy, too. For instance, if your workday is eight hours a day, but your co-workers stay at least 10 to 11, “there’s an implicit expectation to go above and beyond” at work, Gionta said. It can be challenging being the only one or one of a few trying to maintain healthy boundaries, she said. Again, this is where tuning into your feelings and needs and honoring them becomes critical.

  1. Make self-care a priority.

Gionta helps her clients make self-care a priority, which also involves giving yourself permission to put yourself first. When we do this, “our need and motivation to set boundaries become stronger,” she said. Self-care also means recognizing the importance of your feelings and honoring them. These feelings serve as “important cues about our wellbeing and about what makes us happy and unhappy.”

Putting yourself first also gives you the “energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there” for them.” And “When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend.”

  1. Seek support.

If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, “seek some support, whether [that’s a] support group, church, counseling, coaching or good friends.” With friends or family, you can even make “it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together [and] hold each other accountable.”

Consider seeking support through resources, too. Gionta likes the following books: The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time and Boundaries in Marriage (along with several books on boundaries by the same authors).

  1. Be assertive.

Of course, we know that it’s not enough to create boundaries; we actually have to follow through. Even though we know intellectually that people aren’t mind readers, we still expect others to know what hurts us, Gionta said. Since they don’t, it’s important to assertively communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary.

In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular is bothersome to you and that you can work together to address it, Gionta said.

  1. Start small.

Like any new skill, assertively communicating your boundaries takes practice. Gionta suggested starting with a small boundary that isn’t threatening to you, and then incrementally increasing to more challenging boundaries. “Build upon your success, and [at first] try not to take on something that feels overwhelming.”

“Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support,” Gionta said. And remember that it’s a skill you can master.

Source:  https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-way-to-build-and-preserve-better-boundaries/

Cumulative Stress: What is it, and what to do about it

Cumulative stress is an accumulation of stress that impacts bodily functioning, cognitive output, mood and your ability to function healthily.  Stress can be both positive; such as working towards a degree or getting a promotion, and negative; such as making a major life decision or experiencing a loss.  The impact of these positive and negative stressors without the balance of self-care and routine can be detrimental to your health and overall functioning, resulting in illness, injury, feelings of depletion, and inability to meet goals and fulfill obligations.

To manage your stress, “keep your bucket full,” meaning, be purposeful in replenishing your energy through adequate sleep, healthy diet, exercise, healthy relationships and hobbies.  If you do not, you may end up involuntarily refilling your bucket after a sickness or injury, when you have no choice but to sit and rest.

Per the Office of Student and Community Services, Department of Student Services of Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, Maryland, here are some ways to combat cumulative stress:

  • Create a daily routine to help regain a sense of control
  • Eat balanced, healthy meals
  • Get extra rest to let your body relax and recover
  • Exercise
  • Let frustration and anger out through safe, exhausting physical activity
  • Ask for support from friends, colleagues, and loved ones
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco
  • Limit caffeine
  • Don’t dwell on news of the crisis; gather the information you need, then turn off the TV or radio
  • Be aware of the impact of your own past experiences on your current functioning
  • Seek mental health assistance when you are concerned about your reactions.

For more information on cumulative stress, visit:

https://jamesclear.com/cumulative-stress

https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/emergency/resources/mental-cumulative.aspx

Self-Care in Minutes

Self-care is an intentional activity meant to support your emotional, mental, and physical well-being.  It is often overlooked, but is vital for a healthy relationship with yourself.  Self-care strengthens self-esteem, the experience of positive feelings and self-confidence, and allows you to maintain openness to positivity from others.  Self-care will also help you to have the energy to get through work and personal commitments.  It can look a lot of ways, like asserting boundaries, saying “no”, asking for help, forgiving yourself, and taking a break.  Self-care does not require grand effort or lots of money; below are some examples of what you can do to take care of yourself:

5 minutes-

  • Drink a glass of water or a cup of tea/coffee/cocoa
  • Text a friend
  • Stretch/take deep breaths
  • Meditate or say a prayer
  • Listen to a motivational song
  • Watch a cute animal video

15 minutes-

  • Write in your journal
  • Make a grocery list or menu
  • Go for a walk
  • Have a dance party in your jammies
  • Change your sheets
  • Phone a friend

30 minutes-

  • Take a bath
  • Exfoliate/apply a face mask
  • Engage in a hobby
  • Take a nap
  • Cook/enjoy a favorite snack or meal
  • Exercise

1+ hours-

  • Give yourself a mani/pedi
  • Watch a favorite movie/show
  • Curl up in a blanket, and listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Attend a therapy session
  • Have a video call with family/friends

Recognizing Anxiety and Tips to Manage Anxiety

COVID-19 is a huge anxiety producer – here are some tips to help you recognize and manage your anxiety.

Coping Strategies

Try these when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:

  • Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
    Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.

https://adaa.org/tips

Tip of the Week: Alcohol Usage Tips for Alcohol Awareness Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From our friends @ Commonhealth…

April is Alcohol Awareness Month Alcohol Awareness Month is observed nationally each April and provides the public an opportunity to learn more about issues related to alcohol use. In observance, Virginia ABC’s Education and Prevention Section shares the following information regarding responsible alcohol consumption. You can find more information on alcohol education and prevention, including digital resources for all ages on Virginia ABC’s website. www.commonhealth.virginia.gov  The contents of the CommonHealth weekly emails may be reprinted from an outside resource in the area of health, safety, and wellness and is intended to provide one or more views on a topic.These views do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth of Virginia, CommonHealth, or any particular agency and are offered for educational purposes.If you have questions or concerns about this article, please email us at wellness@dhrm.virginia.govDrinking in moderation can minimize an individual’s risk for experiencing the negative effects of alcohol.For women, low-risk drinking is defined as no more than –three drinks on a single day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, it’s no more than four drinks on a single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. Low-risk doesn’t mean no risk however. Even within low-risk limits, problems can arise for adults who drink too quickly, have health conditions, or are older than 65. Seven in 10 adults always drink at low-risk levels or don’t drink at all.No matter which beverage a person chooses to consume, it’s the quantity of the beverage consumed that’s most important. Understanding standard drink sizes can help one gauge consumption.  A standard size drink is the equivalent to 12 ounces of beer with 5% alcohol by volume (ABV), 5 ounces of wine with 12% ABV and a 1.5 ounce shot of 80 proof liquor.  Alcohol is not always served in the same size constraints of a standard drink.  Additionally, the ABV in craft beers, wines, liquors and mixed drinks is not always equivalent to the ABV of a standard drink.Be sure to check labels.April is also Stress Awareness Month.  During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, recognizing the need to manage stress is more important than ever. It can be tempting to reach for a drink in a stressful situation, but maintaining mental and physical health should be atop priority. Here are some tips to keep in mind: If you did not drink before, do not start now.Consuming alcohol does not protect you from COVID-19. Eat healthy and get enough rest.If you are working from home, try to maintain a schedule and routine.Even in the midst of social distancing, you can stay connected. Reach out virtually to friends/family. Share your feelings and support others.

 

http://www.commonhealth.virginia.gov/