Flashbacks are our brain’s way of processing traumatic events that we’ve experienced. Our subconscious taps into those important memories but they are not contained- meaning they tend to spill out everything related to the traumatic event. For many individuals, this experience can be just as terrifying as the initial event.
Flashbacks usually happen without warning. Most result from a “triggering” that occurs by an external experience. Triggers are typically sensory-based experiences that manifest via smells, sounds, tastes, textures that remind the person of the traumatic event. The sound of fireworks or a car backfiring can remind a soldier of gunfire. I once had a patient who would have flashbacks around flower shops, as the overwhelming smell of flowers would bring him back to his sister’s funeral.
Living with flashbacks is very difficult, but with practice there are some ways you can work through these disturbing events:
Remind yourself that you are in a safe place and having a flashback. Use that self-talk and tell yourself, as many times as necessary, that these are only memories until you can feel yourself begin to calm.
Sometimes using your five senses can help you to be in the present moment. If one sense is causing the flashback use your other senses to place yourself in the actual current environment. The tactile experience of stamping your feet on the ground can remind yourself that you are free to get away from any situation that has become uncomfortable for you. See more here on mindfulness tips.
Fear and panic causes our breathing to become shallow and erratic. Shallow our erratic breathing exacerbates the stress we feel in that moment because our body is literally panicking from a lack of oxygen. In these fearful moments, when we slow our breathing and take deeper and deeper breaths, we actually signal to our brain and body that everything is okay. One of my favorite breathing tricks is to trace one hand with the opposite. When you go up a finger breathe in, then breathe out as you trace back to the palm of you hand. Repeat till you are calm and your breathing is regular.
No one wants to remember their trauma, let’s face it it’s not an easy experience and I understand you want to move on and forget it NOW. However, our bodies and our minds need time to process what has happened. It’s normal, expected, and honestly needed to experience a full range of emotions. Honor your experience and yourself for making it through and surviving.
Going through trauma alone is not really advisable. I understand there may be feelings of shame, guilt, fear that are preventing you from feeling comfortable opening up. However, it is important for you to have supports
It’s important that you let loved ones know about your to help you through this process. Opening up to trusted loved ones can allow for them to help you work through flashbacks and process what has happened. You may also want to open up to a mental health professional to gain a deeper understanding of what is happening to you, how to cope with flashbacks and triggers and work through those difficult memories and emotions.
If you or a loved one is suffering from flashbacks and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch, we would be happy to discuss how we may be able to help.
Suffolk Family Therapy is proud to announce that Great Neck Library is hosting us for a free webinar for the public on depression in a pandemic! Our very own Alexandria Fairchild, LMSW will be presenting. The presentation will cover the following:
“Depression is a debilitating illness. Those who struggle with depression are familiar with the well-meaning advice from family and friends, however the lack of motivation and overall apathy toward life make it almost impossible to incorporate any of their suggestions. The COVID-19 pandemic has exasperated existing mental health challenges for many, with isolation, loneliness, inactivity, fear, and hopelessness becoming all too familiar. This presentation will give you valuable knowledge, insight, and most importantly, foster hope that there is a way out of depression for yourself and/or those you care about. “
Download the Zoom app on your device or go to zoom.us/join and enter the meeting ID and passcode. You can also dial in at 1 (646) 558-8656.
Meeting ID: 937 2968 7981 – Passcode: 514799
As parents we strive to keep our kids, safe, healthy and happy. We tire endlessly in this pursuit from the minute they’re born to when they leave the nest. From baby proofing, to being a personal chauffeur to their many activities; monitoring their online activity to trying to hide vegetables in their dinner- its a job that never does seem to end. Teen depression is a factor that can complicate our job even further.
Despite our best efforts to keep them safe, healthy and happy, it is increasingly difficult to protect our kids from mental health concerns like depression. According to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), depression affects roughly 11% of adolescents by age 18.
If you are unsure as to whether your own child may be suffering from depression, here are 6 signs to look for:
All teens struggle with raging hormones that do make mood swings just par for the course when raising a teen. However, teens with depression experience mood swings on another level. They display more frequent and intense mood swings in and out of anger, sadness and irritability.
A drop in grades or sudden apathy for school in general can be a sign that your teen is struggling with depression. Cutting classes, lateness or missing assignments can be a signal that something isn’t quite right. Especially, when your child was one that had been previously a pretty good student.
Many teens isolate when they become depressed. They stop seeing friends, retreat to their rooms and stop talking so much about what’s going on in their day. Other kids who are depressed will have a change in social group, maybe with some peers that you may find questionable. To manage how they feel they may begin to engage in some self-destructive behavior. Changes in social behavior are another big sign that your teen may be struggling with depression.
If your child has stopped engaging in some of the things you know they once really loved and enjoyed, it’s an indication that something is not right. Apathy and lack of interest are signs of depression. Yes some children do “grow out” of activities, be it sports, music or art. But if what they loved to do is not replaced by a new passion or hobby, it may be that they are really struggling to feel happy engaging in anything- even the things that used to bring them immense joy.
I know teens are generally not known for being super motivated. However teens with depression you will see a significant decrease in their motivation level. This may show up in school, in their desire to go to extra curricular activities, see friends, or comply with chores around the home.
Depression can be genetic. So if you have a family history of depression, there is a chance that your teen will struggle with depression as well.
If you have noticed any of these signs in your teen, it is important to seek help. You can start with your school guidance counselor or pediatrician to get their feedback on if they think depression may be the cause.
Therapy can help teens to cope with their symptoms, learn their triggers and develop healthy ways of managing their emotions. If you are concerned for your teen’s safety or mental health, please contact us today.
Perfectionism is a defense mechanism many anxious people tend to struggle with. Many of our perfectionist clients struggle with the negative thoughts that they are not good enough unless they do everything 100% right 100&% of the time. Perfectionists tend to down play their accomplishments, have difficulty with minor changes in their desired outcome and struggle with constantly not living up to expectations, usually expectations that are not always very realistic in nature.
Where does perfectionism come from?
Perfectionism is rooted in shame. Perfectionism is driven by “what people think of you”, versus “staying true to yourself”, or ignoring the opinions of others. Research shows that shame is highly associated with perfectionism, depression, anxiety, addiction, aggression and much more. Perfectionism is often a cover for feelings of shame, stemming from the belief that what we do – or fail to do – is a direct reflection of who we are. Shame is a reaction that at times occurs when we interpret our actions, our standing, our very selves in the context of what is expected by friends, family and society at large. If we do not meet the expectations posed on us by others we can begin to blame ourselves and internalize that shame. When we don’t meet those expectations we feel anxious, vulnerable, and judged as “different”. This results in negative self-talk like: “I’m stupid,” “I’m unworthy,” or “I’m unlovable.” And if we believe these to be true, then surely other people will judge us just as harshly as we judge ourselves.
In order to combat this feeling of shame, we develop ways to subdue it, or mask it. Perfectionism is one such method; by shielding our imperfections and our insecurities from ourselves as well as those who might look down on us, we can keep the shame hidden. By achieving impossible standards, producing exceptional work, saying the most intelligent phrases, or by having an immaculate, beautiful home and/or personal appearance, we push away any opportunities for shame. We eliminate the chance for vulnerability or connection, thus lessening the opportunity for scrutiny or judgment. We are isolated.
How Do we Begin to Combat the Shame?
One essential process is that a person must talk about the shame to someone they can trust, like a therapist, so that they can experience safe vulnerability. The three essential steps in healing are:
The first step is to allow yourself to develop a relationship with a trusted therapist so you can allow yourself to truly be vulnerable and explore how shame is feeding your perfectionism. You could try a family member or trusted friend, but for many people, finding and speaking with a person bound to hold all your secrets and problem by confidentiality is the first step in truly putting your issues on the table.
How does one become shame resilient? Well you start by identifying you shame triggers- what exactly is causing you to feel shameful? What are the beliefs about yourself and the world that are relating to this?
Self-compassion is essential in the healing process of working through shame. Learning to speak about yourself in reaction to it, as if you were speaking to someone you care about- you know without all the labeling and name-calling. Your therapist will be there to help you work through it and empathize with what you are feeling and experiencing.
Embracing imperfection is allowing yourself to just be, rather than expecting to be something better, someone who fits in. It is opening up to being vulnerable, first with yourself as you build up resiliency, then with others while you practice loving yourself despite how you are perceived. You can do this in small steps, selecting a small stone in your façade that will not reveal you to the world just yet but willallow you to practice having compassion for yourself. Maybe you let the dishes pile up for a few more hours than usual, wear mismatched socks, or let yourself be 5 minutes late to a social engagement. These small practices give you the chance to become enamored with your quirks and imperfections, using them as positive, somewhat silly, intentional reflections of your true self.
As always, if you would need help working through your struggles, our office is here to help. Please call us at 631-503-1539 to set up your first appointment and discuss how we can help you live a life you are proud of.
If you’ve never had anxiety yourself, or been close to someone who struggles with anxiety, it may be difficult to recognize the signs. Anxiety disorder is one of the more common mental illnesses in America effecting about 18.1% of the population.
There is a difference between general worry and stress- and an anxiety disorder. To those outside of the mental health field it may be difficult to tell the difference between just having a nervous mindset and diagnosable anxiety, so how can you tell? In this article we will review three common signs of anxiety to give you more information about this common and highly treatable condition.
It’s normal to worry from time to time, about an upcoming exam, or a family member, pat of the human experience is that we worry. However, chronic worry or fear that something is wrong, that other’s are upset with you or that something bad will happen is not normal. I often describe anxiety to clients as if your brain is on a hamster wheel. Thoughts replay again and again, over and over. It’s mentally and physically draining and despite efforts you cannot seem to get these anxious thoughts to leave your brain. It is at this point, where your fears and worries are disrupting your daily life, which indicates the possibility of a diagnosable anxiety disorder.
Anxiety can be a very physical experience. These physiological signs are also a signal that you may have a diagnosable anxiety issue. Some of these signs include: chest tightness, upset stomach, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, increased heart-rate or heart palpitations, fatigue, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, difficulty concentrating and many more.
A panic attack is a sudden onset of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions- when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. Physical symptoms of a panic attack include:racing heart, feeling weak faint or dizzy, sweats or chills, chest pain and difficulty breathing. When experiencing a panic attack you may feel like you are losing control, having a heart attack or even dying. Panic attacks can be very scary for those experiencing them and are a definite sign of anxiety.
To be clear, there are many different forms of anxiety and many different symptoms, so this is certainly not a comprehensive list. However, the three signs described above are some of the more obvious signs you may be struggling with anxiety.. If you feel like anxiety is disrupting your daily life, it’s time to make the call to a local therapist or your doctor. Relief only can happen once treatment begins.
Online therapy is effective and convenient. It can be difficult at first to navigate the technology and to find your rhythm with teletherapy. Here’s tips to have a great session.
Follow these instructions
Use a Laptop or a Desktop (Phones and Ipads work too, but can be a hassle to hold for the duration of your session).
Experience has proven that teletherapy sessions run more smoothly when both the client and therapist are using a computer. Chrome is the recommended browser, but Firefox and Safari will work as well. If you must use your cellphone, you will also need to have eitherChrome or Safaridownloaded on your computer.
Prepare ahead of time
Make sure that your device is charged, that you have headphones (if you prefer to use them) and that you have allowed access to your camera and microphone.
In order to maintain HIPAA compliance, your therapist will make sure that they are in a space where no one can hear them (or you). You will get the most out of your session if you are able to find a private space as well.
Looking at our own face for an extended period of time is one of the reasons cited for developing video call fatigue. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of being on a video call for this reason, consider putting a piece of paper on the square that shows you your own face.
Another possibly frustrating aspect of teletherapy is when technology fails us. If for any reason, the teletherapy session freezes or cuts out, Use the chat feature to communicate if you think your therapist cannot hear you. Please know that your therapist is doing everything in their power to get things up and running again on their end.
You are not alone-your therapist is also getting frustrated with technology issues and feeling uncomfortable looking at their own face!
Teletherapy can be a very effective means of therapy. Follow tips to ensure you make the most out of your sessions. Contact Now to schedule your online session today!
If your teen is angry about their life or is hurt easily, they may need some additional supports from a teen therapist. Teens develop anxiety and depression from a host of issue: life transitions like divorce or a move, bullying, peer anxiety and body image concerns to name a few. The transition in the teenage years from being a child to becoming an adult comes with it’s own unique set of stressors. For an adolescent losing a friend, ending a relationship or struggling academically can be a big loss for them. Working with a therapist can help your teen learn to overcome these obstacles, find their inner strengths and move towards more productive choices and outcomes.
At Suffolk Family Therapy our therapists help teens with self-harm behaviors, suicidal thinking, teen drinking, and low self-esteem. Working with a teen therapist can help your teen to develop: a strong moral compass, self-esteem, and healthy coping skills to manage life’s challenges.
Adolescents have trouble making decisions and often struggle with impulsivity and peer pressure. This can lead to self-harming behavior, poor self-image, drinking, drug use, eating difficulties, poor school performance, defiance and oppositional behavior, as well as other acting out behaviors. Teens usually turn to their peers for advise in absence of a trusted adult relationship. Which as we know, teens advising other teens on major life choices- may not be the best situation for you or your child.
As parents, we always want to be our teens go-to person. The person they come to when they need help, support or comfort. Many teens however, feel uncomfortable talking with their parents about what is bothering them. Whether it be the are afraid of getting in trouble or do not want to cause their parents any more stress- teens often just don’t go to parents if they are having a hard time. A therapist is a safe-place where they can share their concerns and experiences. If you think about it, there was probably a great deal you kept from your parents and tried to handle on your own when you were teen. Being a teenager can feel overwhelming, frustrating, and scary. Having their own “person” to confide in can provide that safe place to explore their feelings, needs, difficulties and find healthy ways of coping and moving forward in life. It can also be the start to fostering that relationship with you again. By incorporating family therapy, we break down some of the barriers that keep your child from coming to you and teach them that they can speak with you when they are having difficulties. Counseling can help teenagers to build positive self-talk and learn to love themselves. Lastly, learning positive coping skills boosts self-confidence and promotes a healthy release of anger.
For the first session, parents and guardians will come in for the initial intake. After that, teenagers receive individual counseling to foster independence and leadership. Often, we start rapport building the first few sessions so your teen feels comfortable opening up to their therapist. We encourage family sessions when family conflict is impacting the teen or family dynamic and will prepare your teen to discuss, calmly and effectively their concerns and difficulties so that you may be a part of the solution. We also teach teens a range of skills depending on their concerns and difficulties including: self-regulation techniques, anger management skills, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, relaxation techniques, non-violent communication skills and conflict resolution skills. Essentially, each session can be a positive experience of building self-acceptance and self-care skills.At Suffolk Family Therapy we help teens to form their identifies and help them express themselves in a healthy and positive manner.
If your teen needs help with working through anxiety, depression, ADHD, self-esteem, or oppositional behaviors contact us today to speak with a teen therapist.
Unfortunately, being a survivor of trauma or abuse is exceedingly common. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center,one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. Additionally, they also found that one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
Being a survivor of abuse can be challenging, thankfully with some self-care in place you can begin your healing journey to a healthier you. That journey from feeling scared, afraid, angry and/or alone to a place of peace and acceptance can be an empowering one. Regardless of whether your trauma was recent or happened years ago, a daily self-care regimen will help you cope with the trauma that still affects you today.
An essential component of maintaining optimum physical, mental, and emotional health is ensuring you get adequate sleep each night. According to The Sleep Foundation, “while sleep issues after a traumatic experience can be distressing, they may also be an important opportunity for treating and healing from trauma. Research suggests that being able to sleep after a traumatic event can reduce intrusive trauma-related memories and make them less distressing.” Additionally, getting adequate sleep helps to improve memory, increase positive mood and decrease stress.
Meditating for just five to ten minutes can have some really positive benefits including: boosting immune response, regulating stress levels, increasing focus and elevating mood. Headspace (the App) now has a program on Netflix that not only guides you through meditations but also explains why and how a particular exercise can help you. I’ve also always been a big fan of the App Insight Timer. I find guided meditations are often easier for people to start off with and you can then work your way into solely music, nature sounds or silent meditations. For anxious folx, guided meditation can help to give you a focus point so it is not so overwhelming in the beginning.
Exercise is beneficial for just about everyone, but for trauma survivors it can also be a way to release pent-up emotions you have relating to what has happened to you. The type of exercise is not really as important, as engaging in a daily practice of release. If you like to dance, do some Zumba, if you are more of a yoga lover, go with that. For some, taking kickboxing or jiu-jitsu can help them feel more in control after an assault and better able to defend themselves. No matter what you choose remember that exercise should be an act of self-care, meaning it should be something you enjoy- not a punishment.
For many survivors there is a good-deal of shame and guilt that comes with what has happened to them. For those reasons, it is all the more important to really focus on programing yourself with positive thoughts and beliefs. For example: “I am loved,” “I am worthy,” “I am valued,” “I am strong,” “I am enough.” I often tell client’s to pick an opposite thought to their negative self-talk, so if your inner “Karen” is saying: “I am disposable”, you say to yourself: “I am worthy and deserving of love, respect and affection”. There is a really amazing App that spams your phone, however often you set it, to give you positive affirmations called “I Am”. If its a struggle for you at first to come up with your own affirmations, I really recommend it.
This process of changing that inner voice takes time and truly is a practice so be gentle with yourself. You will have days where it works great and other days where you cannot seem to get “Karen” to stop talking. It’s okay, just take it one step, one moment at a time.
Support is critical need for healing, surround yourself with people who build you up, cheer you on and pick you up when you are down. If you have a solid support system don’t be afraid to engage them, by calling a friend or family member, attending a support group and/or finding a therapist. If your support system is lacking, use a smartphone app or the Meetup website to find a local, like-minded group and make some new friends.
Often times survivors feel alone and like no one can or will understand how they feel, or that they will be judged for what happened to them. However, as said in the beginning abuse is more common than we would like to believe in this country. Sharing your struggles with people who understand and care about you and your well-being is an important aspect of your healing journey. If you are a sexual abuse survivor and need some words of advise from others who have been through it but are not ready to take that step of opening up just yet, I highly recommend Dear Sister by Lisa Factora-Borchers and Aishah Shahidah Simmons – a book of letters from survivors of sexual abuse to other survivors.
Are you a survivor of trauma or abuse? A licensed mental health professional can help you so you don’t have to go through this alone. Give our office a call today so we can set up a time to talk.
Relationships are bonds formed on understanding, fondness and admiration, mutual support, trust and commitment. Sometimes we meet people who we care about but later learn this person may not be a good partner. Here are some dating red flags that can serve as warning signs to be cautious about proceeding into a relationship and if any of these sound familiar, it may be helpful to address these issues right away, preferably with a counselor.
– While this may seem romantic or as though a partner believes you are “the one,” it can be a sign that a partner is controlling. Most abusers come on very sweet and charming in the beginning. This leads into the “Honeymoon Phase” of an unsafe relationship where there is a lot of love and care before the “Tension Phase,” which involves many arguments, put downs and feeling bad about yourself. The “Tension Phase” may even escalate to the “Blow Up Phase” in unhealthy relationships where abuse becomes more extreme. If you are dating someone who you feel is becoming very serious very quickly, it may be helpful to evaluate how much about you this person seems to know and appreciate before proceeding further.
– Relationships are built on trust and require time to build this confidence. This is why partners bond over shared values and honor each other’s boundaries. If trust is not secured in your relationship and your partner wants to isolate you from your friends, work, or family, this may be a sign that your foundation is not solid. In your relationship there should be a balance between “me”, “you” and “us” which allows each individuals to have a strong sense of self inside and outside the relationship. A relationship without this balance can cause jealousy and isolation to define the bond rather than respect, trust and understanding.
– Loving relationships are about trust and collaboration and a relationship cannot have these themes if one partner is seeking to control and/or make decisions for the other.
– Someone who struggles to see other points of view or negotiate with other people to the point of maltreatment is likely unable to collaborate with their partner and meet their partner halfway to achieve mutual goals.
– We are not perfect beings and a partner who struggles to acknowledge areas where they could improve or have made a mistake are unlikely to atone for their missteps in your relationship. This means that the partner who refuses to own their mistakes will push accountability onto other people, rarely apologize or modify their behavior to ensure their partner feels heard and understood.
– A partner who struggles with substances may have difficulty managing their emotions or may rely on the availability and accessibility of their substance of choice to cope with their emotions. This may serve as a barrier to maintaining clear communication, trust and/or mutual support.
– A loving partner accepts us for who we are and encourages us to grow and meet our goals. Someone who expects their partner to be perfect is likely to be demanding and unable to recognize that the reality that their partner has limitations, as all people do. If someone expects their partner to be infallible, they may respond extremely when their partner does not meet their expectations.
– In order to have healthy communication within our relationships, we expect our partners to be able to negotiate so conflict can be resolved with both parties feeling heard and appreciated. Similar to someone blaming others for their mistakes, someone who is unable to tolerate disagreements struggles to see other points of view or may not value their partner’s thoughts and opinions.
– The only people responsible for maltreatment is the person who committed it. We are all entitled to feel safe and secure with our partners regardless of the situation. Someone who has mistreated a former partner is unlikely to provide the safety and security needed for a meaningful relationship without addressing these issues with a trained counselor.
– We cannot simultaneously feel safe and threatened. Any relationship that involves threats or intimidation cannot be a loving relationship because it does not have security.
– We all deserve respect, especially from our loved ones. Someone who puts us down, calls us names or curses at us does not respect us. Lack of respect is one of those dating red flags that can have us feeling unsafe, unheard and unseen.
– There needs to be a strong foundation of stability in any meaningful, lasting relationship. This allows us to feel safe and protected when we are with our partner and enhances our sense of trust and attachment to them overtime. Someone who ricochets from extremely happy to extremely angry does not possess the skillset to regulate themselves and cannot build this foundation of security with us. For someone to be able to withstand the ups and downs of life alongside us as our partner, they must be able to weather the storm with us and tolerate difficult emotions so they can support us when we need them. This is part of the natural give and take of a true relationship. If everything is dependent on one partner’s mood, this individual cannot truly “give” when their partner needs support.
– Trust and collaboration require an equal playing field and this is impossible if there is an uneven power dynamic within the relationship where one person seeks to dominate the other. Uneven power dynamic is certainly one of the key dating red flags.
– During a confrontation, some people feel they need to take some space to calm down before proceeding to resolve the conflict while others want to resolve the conflict in the moment. It’s important to have an understanding of you and your partner’s conflict resolution styles so you can work together to resolve arguments. If our partners will not allow us to take time to cool off or to remove ourselves if we feel unsafe, this tells us that they do not value our feelings or needs in the relationship.
Forming lasting bonds enhance our feeling of connectedness and understanding. Cultivating these bonds takes time, trust, security and admiration. They can also allow us to experience love and demonstrate healthy relationships for those around us, especially our children. If you feel unsupported in your relationship or noticed you have experienced some dating red flags, give our office a call to enhance your relationship’s foundation so all parties feel valued, respected and fulfilled.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals have begun working from home. If you are one of these individuals, kudos to you; you have been forced to make the best of a sudden change that you had very little say in. As time has gone on, you have begun to see that working from home can have its perks; you have the benefit of improved flexibility, more independence, no commuting stress, and best of all-comfy clothes!
However, working from home has some challenges were not foreseeable at the start of this pandemic. These challenges have only started to be understood through the tried-and-true experience of those who have been on the forefront of this new working-from-home era. Difficulties with willpower/motivation, increased distractions, isolation, challenges with a work/home life balance, and feeling as if you have to overcompensate by working around the clock are all obstacles in working from home. If you have taken interest in reading this article, you most likely understand that working from home isn’t the idyllic, carefree playground it is cracked up to be.
Here are some tips to protect your mental health while working from home:
It is extremely tempting to roll over, open up the lap top, and get to work. A basic rule of thumb is if something feels too good and easy, it’s probably not the best thing for your overall mental health and well-being. You’ll want to keep your work zone separate from your relaxation zone as best you can with the space you have available. This can help with motivation levels, and from keeping your mind and body from receiving mixed messages about when it’s time to work and when it’s time to relax. Also, change into “real” clothes, brush your hair, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, drink coffee, and whatever else helps you to feel like a HUMAN before starting work. It is easy to “let ourselves go” when working from home, but doing so on a regular basis can have a negative impact on our confidence and zest for life.
Flexibility is viewed as one of the biggest benefits of working from home. However, we as humans respond best to structure and routine. It is easy to drag out your work day while mixing in household responsibilities. However, doing so can result in being “at work” for much longer than you would be if you worked a typical 8-hour office day. Set work hours and do you best to only work within these hours. DO NOT ANSWER WORK CALLS/EMAILS AFTER WORK HOURS. I repeat-DO NOT ANSWER WORK CALLS/EMAILS AFTER WORK HOURS.Develop an “end of the work day” ritual to further solidify that your work day is over and you are “returning home.” Some suggestions for this can include putting away all of your work items, changing your clothing, putting on some music, or meditating. This will assist in not allowing work life and home life blend into one giant conglomerate mess, and in turn will benefit greatly in maintaining balance-which is something we are all striving for!
Speaking of balance-take regular breaks! Often it is tempting to “push straight through,” believing there is no time or usefulness in taking a break. Afterall, won’t a break just cause me to have to work longer to complete what I need to accomplish? Wrong. It has been scientifically proven that taking breaks results in you returning to work more refreshed, centered, and more productive than you were prior to taking a break. Your stress levels will decrease as well. Just as you set regular work hours, set regular break times. Most 8-hour shifts require two ten-minute breaks and one half hour break by law, so keep this in mind when scheduling your breaks. You deserve it!
Working from home can result in a sedentary lifestyle. The average person is recommended to take 10,000 steps a day. You are not getting that in your “commute” from your bed to your designated work space, even if you live in the lap of luxury. Take walks around your neighborhood on your breaks, or while making phone calls. Go up and down the stairs if you have them, do some jumping jacks or squats, or even put some music on and start dancing! If you can, set up your computer so you can type standing up. Utilize anything you can think of to get the blood flowing. This will assist with energy, motivation, and releasing feel-good endorphins to help get you through the day!
WAIT, I thought this was a benefit of working from home??? Not having to communicate with those annoying people you work with and for seems like a dream come true! Won’t this HELP my sanity? Although not having to engage in small talk or deal with difficult coworkers can be a rather enjoyable perk of working from home, TOO much isolation can be detrimental to your wellbeing. As much as we can have an aversion to it, we thrive on human interaction. Make an effort to keep the lines of communication flowing to keep from turning too far inward (it can be scary in that mind of yours!). Plus, it can boost morale and creativity to bounce ideas off another someone else.
Part of the challenge of working from home is the plethora of distractions that are available to us. There are often an endless number of household chores that can be done, shows that can be watched, online purchases that can be made, and naps that can be taken-all of which can be done without anyone “watching over” you. Oftentimes, it can be tempting to distract ourselves from one work related task to another work-related task, and tell ourselves, “We are multitasking!” Hate to break it to you folks, but multitasking is a myth. It is scientifically proven that completing one task at a time is the most efficient way to get things done. Go ahead, google it! We are so trained in distraction that it has become a way of life. Focus on completing one task at a time, and you will see your efficiency skyrocket! This in turn reduce your stress and increase confidence in your own abilities.
Many of us were thrown into the sea of working from home without so much as a life jacket to help us. Working from home is NOT natural for us, so any day you are able to defy the odds and maintain some semblance of productivity is a successful day! You put real pants on today? Good job! Made it through the whole day without napping? Right on! What you are doing is not easy and requires a huge amount of self-discipline, self-motivation, and inner strength to maintain. So, give yourself a pat on the back; you are doing amazing.