TLC Virtual Resiliency

How Covid-19 Has Created a Mental Health Crisis

Back in March before the world shut down, we had enough stress on our plates. Combine regular stressors with a pandemic and we have a mental health crisis on our hands. That is exactly what is currently happening– compounding stressors are taking a serious toll on our minds and bodies. In a new report from the American Psychological Association (APA) they make it clear that we are facing a mental health crisis that can potentially lead to health and social consequences for years to come. 

What is compounding stress?

Compounding stress is when we are dealing with many stressors at the same time. With Covid-19, many individuals are stressed about their health and the health of their loved ones. If a loved one has passed, that creates further stress as individuals are coping with grief. If you have children, dealing with virtual learning and childcare responsibilities while you’re trying to do your own job is another serious stressor. To top it off, job loss and insecurity, financial distress and uncertain futures are all weighing heavily on Americans’ minds. With all this in mind, it is no wonder that our country is suffering. 

How has compounded stress affected Americans?

According to APA’s findings, 78% of adults say that the coronavirus is a significant source of stress in their life and 67% say that they have had increased stress over the course of the pandemic. Nearly half of adults report that their behavior has been negatively affected. Many reported increased tension in their bodies, getting angry very quickly (i.e. “snapping” at others), unexpected mood swings, and yelling or screaming at loved ones. 

For those with children, the APA found that 70% of parents reported that family responsibilities are a significant source of stress. 63% reported that the pandemic made the 2019-2020 school year extremely stressful for them personally. The uncertainty of the 2020-2021 school year continues to cause 77% of parents significant levels of stress. 

For those with and without children, work and financial disruptions are raising stress levels around the country. The economy is a large source of stress for many Americans (63%), which is significantly higher than stress levels reported in 2019 (46%). While work as a source of stress has remained the same since 2019 (63%), more Americans reported that work stability is a major stressor. Additionally, 68% of Americans report that their employment has been negatively impacted by Covid-19 with pay cuts, hour cuts, trying to balance household responsibilities while working, being laid off, and experiencing decreased productivity. 

So I’m stressed out. Now what?

Since the pandemic does not seem to be going away any time soon, we need to learn how to effectively deal with the stressors in our lives before they affect our health and wellbeing. One of the APA’s suggestions is to provide employees and co-workers with emotional support by doing regular check-ins and showing empathy to others. TLC Virtual Resiliency is also here to provide companies and employees with the tools they need to handle stress in a healthy way. Successful handling of stressors can help you build resiliency and make you better able to handle future stressors in your everyday life. Contact us today to find out how we can help your employees thrive during these challenging times. 

To read APA’s full report, click here.

Has the Pandemic Disrupted Your Medical Practice? You Are Not Alone

When we think of businesses that are struggling during the pandemic, our minds likely go to restaurants, small businesses, and local shops. What probably didn’t come to mind was medical practices. At a time when doctors and nurses are needed most, it is strange to think that many professionals in the medical field are leaving their jobs, retiring early, and closing their medical practices. 

What is going on in the medical field?

According to a recent New York Times article (Abelson, 2020), small medical practices across the country that are not affiliated with a major hospital are struggling to make ends meet. A recent survey of over 3,500 physicians conducted by The Physicians Foundation in August, 2020, shows troubling findings. 37% of practices saw a volume decrease of 25% or less, while 41% saw volume decreases of 26% or more. Such a decrease in patient volume would make it incredibly challenging to sustain a practice for longer than a few months. In fact, 8% of physicians have closed their practices due to the pandemic (that is 280 practices out of this relatively small sample). In addition, physicians reported decreased income and having to lay off employees. Unfortunately, while telemedicine is on the rise, it is unlikely to make up for the lost revenue.

In addition to leaving the field because of financial strain, many physicians are too burned out to continue working. They are also scared of becoming ill and do not want to put themselves at greater risk. Additionally, physicians who are of retirement age but choose to continue working are now retiring earlier than they would have liked. While these are all valid reasons to leave the profession, there are steps people can take to combat burnout and anxiety.

Fighting Burnout

The first step in dealing with and preventing burnout is to practice self-care. Self-care is not sitting on the couch and binging Netflix all day, but doing things that are actually good for you. This includes exercising, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and maintaining social connections.  Another important tool in the fight against burnout is fostering healthy relationships outside of work. Some co-workers are our best friends, but spending time with other people may help you get your mind off of work related stressors and annoyances. Focusing on hobbies outside of work is another important burnout preventer. Spending time doing something you love may help you feel more renewed and energized. Lastly, practicing healthy coping skills, such as journaling and stress management techniques, is essential during stressful times. 

If you are a physician and you’re struggling with burnout, anxiety, and tremendous amounts of stress, you are not alone. TLC-VR is here to help you overcome these challenging times and equip you with the tools you need to become more resilient. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your employees and coworkers cope during these stressful times.

Getting Through the Second Wave

When Covid-19 first hit in March, we were certainly not prepared for it. What started off as a two-week closure of schools and businesses turned into months of anxiety and fear of the unknown. Experts have been warning us of the potential of a second wave for months, and just as life is starting to go back to normal, it appears that the second wave is coming our way. While it is frustrating to face closures again, we are now better equipped to handle the stressors that a pandemic brings. 

What we know now:

For starters, we now know so much more about Covid-19 than we did back in March. We now know of three methods that are effective and simple: wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, and social distance. Masks are definitely annoying to wear, but the latest guidance from the CDC suggests that wearing a mask protects you and others from spreading and catching the virus. Social distancing is also frustrating– we are social beings that crave connection. With the colder weather forcing us indoors, we need to start getting creative again with social interactions. What worked and didn’t work for you in the beginning of the pandemic? Do more of the things that worked (e.g., Zoom happy hours) and less of the things that negatively impacted your mood (e.g., endlessly scrolling through social media). 

Keeping Healthy:

It is also important to keep up with healthy routines. If you normally exercise regularly and eat healthy, try your best to maintain those practices. And if you don’t typically exercise or eat healthy, now is the perfect time to start. Right now, gyms are still open, but that can change with short notice, so try to invest in weights and a workout/yoga mat. Youtube has thousands of workout and yoga videos that suit any fitness level, so you can give those a try. Even if it is not your favorite, some movement is better than none!

Focus on Fun Activities

Life in lockdown can be monotonous, so try to plan activities for each week. If you have kids, have a family movie night, build a fort, or bake or cook something together. For the adults, try something new like testing out food and drink recipes, painting, and DIY home projects. If binging TV shows and movies hurt your mental health in the beginning of the pandemic, try something different during the second wave. 

We survived one prolonged quarantine, so we can certainly get through another. Luckily, we are closer to a vaccine and know more about how to properly protect ourselves. TLC-VR is also here to help you get through the second wave. Our staff is available to provide you with resources and tools to help you get through these trying times. Contact us today to learn more about the services we provide to individuals and companies! 

Enjoying a Happy and Safe Holiday Season During a Pandemic

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is time to start thinking about creating holiday plans that are good for both your mental and physical health. Because of Covid-19, this holiday season will be unique and potentially challenging. Unfortunately, cases of coronavirus are increasing daily, so our usual plans with family and friends may not be in the best interest of all involved. But, just because this holiday season will be different, doesn’t mean that it can’t be great and memorable.

Safety First

Consider limiting the number of people at your holiday celebrations to just your immediate family. Doing so will limit the spread of the virus and also limit traveling for the holidays. If you can, avoid traveling to and from states where infections rates are high and where proper safety measures (e.g., wearing masks, social distancing) are not enforced. If you can Zoom with extended family that you would usually be with during the holidays, then that is a safe alternative. In fact, having a virtual party will allow you to see people who may not usually be able to come to holiday dinners. 

Keeping Up With Traditions

Think about the traditions that mean the most to you– is it the meal? Watching a specific show or movie? Spending time with family and friends? If you can pinpoint which part of the holidays are the most important, you can work to keep up those traditions and try to replicate them. If you love a big festive meal, you can still cook it for whoever you spend the holidays with. If spending time with family and friends is the most meaningful, set up a virtual call with them. And if keeping up with a long-held tradition is too painful, skip it for this year. 

Keep Our Spirits Up

Winter can be depressing enough without a pandemic, so it is important to do things that are good for our mental health. Keep up with the obvious things like exercising, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and not overdoing it with alcohol consumption. In addition, try some new ways to stay in good spirits such as a gratitude journal, monitoring your thoughts for negative cognitive distortions, and mindfulness exercises. Socially distanced visits with friends and family are also important for your well-being, and if you can’t see them in person, give them a phone call. 

We have gotten through other holidays during the pandemic, so we can get through some more. Hopefully next year we will be able to enjoy the company of others safely and freely, but this year requires a few more sacrifices. If you are struggling with coping, check out TLC-VR’s resources for more tips and ideas on how to get through these challenging times. 

Healthy Boundaries Promote Resilience

What are boundaries?

Boundaries are rules and limits we set for ourselves and others. They tell and show others acceptable ways of communicating, interacting, and behaving with you. Think of it like a ‘no trespassing’ sign on a property line– that is a clear sign that once you cross the boundary/line, there will be consequences. While a no trespassing sign for a property line is easy to understand when we see it, creating our own personal boundaries can be more challenging. That’s because personal boundaries are invisible, changing, and unique to each individual. Even though it might be challenging, they are important to create because they define where you end and others begin.

What types of boundaries do people have?

Healthy: A person with healthy boundaries is able to say “no” when they want to but they are comfortable opening themselves up to relationships and intimacy. There is value in their own opinions and they don’t compromise their values for others. They share information in an appropriate way and know their wants and needs. They are capable of communicating those wants and needs and are okay with others saying “no” to them. 

Rigid: A person with rigid boundaries always keeps others at a distance, whether that is emotionally or physically. Intimacy and close relationships are avoided. They are very protective of personal information and are unlikely to ask for help. They may seem detached from others and may do this to avoid the possibility of rejection. 

Loose: A person with loose boundaries gets too involved with others.  There is oversharing personal information, difficulty saying no to others, and getting over involved in the problems of others. They are also dependent on others’ opinions and accept abuse or disrespect. They fear rejection if they do not do what others want. 

What are different types of boundaries?

There are many different types of boundaries that you may come across. Some types include:

Physical boundaries: People with healthy physical boundaries are aware of appropriate touch in various settings and relationships. For example, when greeting someone new, you likely give them a handshake. We are keenly aware of when someone invades our physical boundaries– think about a close talker who continues to move towards you after you try to create more space by backing away. Someone can also violate our physical boundaries by going through our phones, emails, journals, etc. 

Intellectual boundaries: this refers to thoughts and ideas. Healthy intellectual boundaries include respect for others’ ideas and awareness of appropriate discussion (e.g., when it is appropriate to talk about politics).

Emotional boundaries: Healthy emotional boundaries involve knowing when to share, or not to share, personal information. For example, people with healthy boundaries share personal information gradually as a relationship develops. Someone with loose emotional boundaries might reveal everything to people right away, while someone with rigid boundaries might never share their feelings. 

Material boundaries: This refers to money and possessions. Someone with healthy material boundaries will set appropriate limits on what they will share and with whom they will share. For example, you will probably let a family member stay the night at your house, but probably don’t want to let a stranger sleep over. 

Setting Healthy Boundaries

It is empowering to set healthy boundaries– it helps you maintain self-respect and enjoy healthy relationships. On the other hand, unhealthy boundaries can lead to dependency, depression, and anxiety. 

The first step in boundary setting is to examine your relationships and places where you can adjust your boundaries. If you feel anger or resentment towards someone or something, it is probably time to set a boundary. When setting boundaries, try to be clear, firm, and respectful and avoid apologizing for the boundary you are setting. You are not responsible for how the other person reacts; you are only responsible for being respectful when communicating your boundaries. If you feel guilty or selfish, do it anyway. You have the right to self-care! If someone continues to ignore the boundary you set, perhaps it is time to eliminate those people from your life. 

Boundary setting is just one step towards resilience. At TLC-VR, we will equip you with more skills and tools to improve your relationships and your life!



Boundaries Psycho Education