April 20, 2020

Six Stages of Quarantine

In talking to my clients, friends, and family members over the past few weeks, I have noticed some “stages of quarantine” that we all seem to be going through. I have listed them below in the order I have personally felt them, but like the stages of grief, they are not necessarily linear. We will weave our way in and out of them, skip them, or repeat them many times depending on the day and the environment we find ourselves in. Today, after having an intellectually stimulating conversation with a friend, I’ve landed back in Surrender/Acceptance, which is why I was able to write this blog! Where are you today?

1. Denial/Downplaying

 Examples of associated thoughts:

 “This is just another flu. I’m healthy; it won’t affect me. People are overreacting. People wearing masks are ridiculous.”

 Examples of associated behaviors:

  • Going about life as usual 
  • Rolling eyes at people who are worrying or wearing masks

2. Fear/Shock

Examples of associated thoughts: 

 “I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job/business. I can’t believe I lost my job/business. I don’t know how I’m going to make ends meet. I’m going to die if I get infected. I still have to work- what if I get infected and then infect my loved ones. I need to clean. We could run out of food. This is all so weird! I’m afraid nothing is ever going to be the same. My kids are missing out on their education; what does this mean for their future? I must take action now!”

Examples of associated behaviors:

  • Hoarding
  • Excessively cleaning
  • Taking heroic and exhausting actions to help, homeschool, or schedule quarantine activities for self/others
  • Having nightmares

3. Anger/Blaming/Bargaining

Examples of associated thoughts:

“Who is to blame?? If we just had some proper guidance/leadership, it would all be ok. Why aren’t people wearing masks? If people would just do what they’re supposed to do, this could end sooner. If we social distance for a couple months, can we go back to work/school by summer? The response to this pandemic has been nothing short of chaotic! My employer doesn’t give a shit about me!”  

Examples of associated behaviors:

  • Lashing out at strangers/coworkers/employers/family members
  • Blaming
  • Ranting on social media

4. Surrender/Acceptance

 Examples of associated thoughts:

 "I might as well make the best of it. This too shall pass. What should I bake/paint/compose/create today? How can I reinvent myself? The earth is healing. I’m finding my new groove. I’m going to keep living.”

Examples of associated behaviors:

  • Creating
  • Reflecting
  • Trusting
  • Helping those in need
  • Eating healthy and exercising    

5. Depression/Sorrow/Grief

Examples of associated thoughts:

“This is never going to end. Life sucks. All my plans/special events are canceled. I have nothing to look forward to. I can’t afford to do anything but sit here. I don’t want to do anything but sit here. What’s the point of being positive. People are dying and suffering, and I am helpless. The world is a mess." 

Examples of associated behaviors:

  • Overeating/eating unhealthy food
  • Drinking alcohol/smoking to excess
  • Over-sleeping
  • Watching TV all day

6. Impatience/Paranoia 

Examples of associated thoughts:

“I’m bored. I need to get out of my house and do something! Are the conspiracy theories true? Did we/“they” overreact? When is this going to end? How is this going to end? Are we being mislead? WHAT IS THE PLAN NOW??”

Examples of associated behaviors:

  • Becoming lackadaisical about social distancing and safety precautions
  • Fighting/becoming irritable with family members
  • Protesting/Rebelling (in public or in private)
  • Ranting on social media

You don't have to change the stage you're in today; just notice. If you’re up for it, you might want to try doing one good thing for your body (i.e. drink a glass of water, eat a vegetable, sit in the sun), one good thing for your mind (i.e. read a good book, talk to an intelligent friend, journal), and one good thing for your spirit (i.e. go for a walk outside, do some yoga, pray), and see what stage you land in next. 



April 10, 2020

You Don't Have to be Grateful for a Damn Thing Today

My husband and I were out for a drive the other day when we passed a homemade roadside sign that read, “What are 10 things you are grateful for?” It pissed me off. First, 10 is a big number. Second, I didn’t feel like being grateful that day. Don’t get me wrong, I pride myself in being a positive thinker. On an average day, I’m quick to turn my frown upside down. But on that day, not only could I think of 10 things I was grateful for, but I could also think of 10 things I was sad about, 10 things I was angry about, and 10 things I was grieving, and the grateful list wasn’t in the forefront. As a society, we seem to have been given the message that only happy feelings are acceptable. The reality is, all emotions are human, and all emotions are neither good nor bad. Emotions are a message from our body, and are meant to be listened to and felt.  How do you feel your emotions? You turn toward them, not away, and bring more awareness to where you feel them in your body, not less. The fear that they will overwhelm you is also a great emotion to lean into! Emotions come and go like waves- some waves are bigger than others. Some feel like tsunamis, but even those eventually recede. On another day recently, I was making my bed when all of a sudden a big rush of COVID19 sadness came over me. I sat down on my floor and cried for ten minutes. Tears are cleansing; humans are self-healing if we use what we have been given. If feeling your emotions feels like you’re drowning or ruminating for days, or leads you to unhealthy behaviors, that’s a different story! That might be your body reminding you that you have other memories connected to those emotions that you need help with. EMDR is really good for that. 



March 30, 2020

Teletherapy: Not So Bad After All

I have to be honest. As a therapist, I have never been a fan of teletherapy. I learn so much about a person through body language, and face-to-face sessions just seem so much warmer and more authentic. Not to mention, EMDR is much easier to do in person! But I, like you, am having to step outside my box, try new things, be flexible, and adapt to the current need. In doing so, I am learning that there are some definite benefits to conducting therapy sessions online, including: 

  1. I can wear sweat pants and flip flops to work; I just have to dress up the top half. But the client can wear whatever she/he wants! Nobody is going to see you but the therapist, and she is much more impressed by what is going on inside you than by what you’re wearing. So, go ahead and show up in your jammies!
  2. You can wear perfume; no one will be offended.
  3. You don’t have to shower, wear deodorant, or brush your teeth first; no one will be offended.
  4. There is no driving involved, so you save time and gas money, and increase productivity at home. Also, you don’t have to get irritated sitting in traffic trying to get to your therapy session on time. 
  5. The therapist gets to see what you’re dealing with at home, i.e. husband leaves the toilet seat up, kids don’t pick up after themselves, or you literally don’t have any quiet space for yourself except in your closet, etc.
  6. You get to see things from a different perspective, literally. Sometimes it’s interesting to ask clients to sit in a different chair than they’re used to sitting in for therapy. The shift in where you’re sitting can lead to a shift in how you see things. 
  7. Teletherapy is better than no therapy. And we can still do EMDR, we just have to do it differently! Change can lead to growth!

If you want to stretch yourself a bit and give it a try, I’m here for you, virtually, for as long as it takes to safely navigate the current uncertainty!



June 25, 2015

Why Can’t I Change???

You may be asking yourself, “Why is it that I want so badly to change my eating behavior (or any other behavior for that matter), but I can’t seem to do it? Change is a difficult thing, and according to research it can take anywhere from 18-254 days to form a new habit.  In the psychology world, we think about change happening in 6 stages.


The first stage is Precontemplation. When we’re in this stage, we don’t even realize we have a problem; we’re not thinking about it; or we may simply be rejecting it. Others may see the problem, but we do not.


The next stage is Contemplation, in which we realize there is a problem; we’re talking about it; and we may even seek help. This is the point where many people get stuck for weeks, months, or years! The reason is because the pros to losing weight are equal to the cons of losing weight. The enjoyment and emotional comfort of food may be just as strong as the physical discomfort of being overweight, for example.





Until that balance is tipped, we aren’t ready for the third stage, which is Planning. In this stage we’re making the necessary plans in order to change. We may be restocking the frig with healthy food, having one last donut, or researching gym memberships.





Not until the next stage, stage four, is there finally Action! This is where we put our plans into motion, and actually start engaging in new behaviors.


The fifth stage, Maintenance, is where we continue to achieve and make progress, and the sixth stage, I hate to tell you, is Relapse. This is where we fall back into old patterns and perhaps regain some weight. The good news about relapse is that it always comes with new insights and fewer setbacks over time.





Given this information, some good questions to ask yourself, and possibly explore in therapy, are “What stage of change am I in? What needs to happen before I can move on to the next stage? On a scale of 1-10, how ready am I to change? How willing am I? How able am I?” Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to plot your course of action more effectively! May 30, 2015


6 Tips to Stop Emotional Eating








Yes, summer is coming and so are the BBQ’s- hamburgers, hot dogs, apple pie…oh my! There will be lots of temptations to eat your feelings, so here are 6 helpful hints to stop eating emotionally:


1. Stop! Be mindful. When you find yourself having the urge to binge, wait 5 minutes. You don’t have to promise yourself you’re not going to eat, just agree to wait 5 minutes. Set a timer if you need to.








     2.  While that timer is ticking, ask yourself if you are actually hungry. If the answer is no, identify the feeling that is making you want to eat. What happened just before you had the urge to eat? Are you mad? Sad? Anxious? Happy? Bored?





     3.  Keep an emotional eating journal. Keeping track of when you eat will help you identify patterns. Once you know what your patterns are, you can more easily make changes.





    4.  Drink a glass of water while you think and journal, or maybe a cup of black tea. Black tea has been shown to decrease the levels of an important stress hormone called cortisol.





    5.  After 5 minutes have passed and you’ve identified your hunger level and/or feelings, you can choose to eat or do something different. If you’re depressed or lonely, call a friend, play with a pet, or look through old photo albums. If you’re bored, do what your mom always told you to do- go outside and play! Read a book, watch a funny TV show, or engage in any activity you enjoy. If you are angry or anxious, breathe! Take 10 slow, deep belly breaths, and then try to do something physical. Go for a short walk or run, away from the refrigerator, of course. Shred a phonebook with your bare hands (Does anyone use those things anymore anyways??). Squeeze a stress ball. Dance.


    6.  Get some individual therapy. You can only run from those feelings for so long. You may think you are successfully avoiding them and moving past your past, but they sneak into your negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself in very creative ways!


March 1, 2015








Hope Requires Action


You can sit around all day hoping and praying that you will finally be able to get over what happened to you in the past, but if you don’t get up and do something, you may find yourself in that dark, painful place called hopelessness. That might be obvious, but it’s still scary to face your demons, right? Many people put off dealing with upsetting memories because of fear- fear that they will never be able to get over their pain, fear that they will lose control, fear of who they will be without their pain…the list goes on and on. But finding hope involves taking action and taking a risk.


Having said that, allow me to jump on top of my soap box for a moment and sing the praises of an evidence-based treatment for trauma that has brought hope to me and so many of my friends, colleagues, and clients: EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). EMDR is a unique therapy in a few ways:







1.     It doesn’t require that you voice all the gory details of your upsetting memory to the therapist. As long as you know what you are thinking or feeling, that’s enough.





     2.     It doesn’t require that you relive the painful experience over and over again to become desensitized to it, only once.


3.     It tends to be quick because it goes deep to the heart of the matter in a short period of time.





4.     It allows you to rely on your own insights and brain to heal your pain, rather than on someone else’s.





5.     It looks so “new age,” but actually it is just brain science with an abundance of scientific research and positive results.


Every experience and emotion, good or bad, has a beginning, middle, and end.  Working through your traumatic memories is no different, but if you keep stopping in the beginning or middle because it’s painful, then you miss the sweet joy that the end may hold.  As one EMDR client put it, “Something is continuing to happen as a result of EMDR. It’s like continual weight loss that allows me to do more and be more. It’s quite frankly awesome. I never realized how much I was holding on to. It’s very freeing. “


If your past “junk” keeps rearing its ugly head in the present, I’m hopeful you’ll give EMDR a try!

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