dr. jennifer ballerini

DR. JEN'S BLOG

Support Dog Fail

So, maybe call a therapist instead?

support-dog

Thriving Through Trauma

Great video from a colleague that explains how "strain trauma," caused by constant exposure to distressing events, works and how finding meaning and ways to be helpful and empowered are the key to not getting PTSD through stressful/life-threatening situations.

Self-Care in a Time of Crisis

DiUZdHuUYAEdp0b

Wondering how to take care of yourself in a pandemic? Here are some tips to help you not just survive, but thrive:

1) Get outside. Nature works wonders. Get some fresh air every day.

2) Exercise. At least 30 minutes a day. Research affirms that cardio and yoga have excellent mental health benefits.

3) Maintain good sleep habits. Go to bed and wake up at reasonable times.

4) Stay social. Keep in touch with your peeps via FaceTime, phone calls, text, virtual happy hours, watching a bad movie online together, etc.

5) Eat well and hydrate. I truly wish I could tell you this meant eat more chocolate and drink more red wine. Truly.

6) Give everyone a lot of grace right now (including yourself). Your kids may be bonkers, your partner may be short or distant. Remember: this is hard—really hard. Be kind. (Especially to yourself. Now is a really good time to be extra patient and supportive with your sweet self, too.)

7) Limit your news intake. Stay informed, but make sure you're not spending more than 1 hour per day reading/watching. And be sure to balance out the distress by reading things like The Good News Network. Clients have also recommended Human Progress and the Reddit Uplifting News thread.

8) Look for the helpers. Do what Mr. Rogers taught us and look for the helpers. Notice every day what is good, inspirational, and moving.

9) Be a helper. Support your local restaurant by getting takeout, shop for an elderly neighbor, donate to a good charity (try Direct Relief) or food bank, find ways to pay people who can't do work for you right now (your housecleaner, your hair stylist, your massage therapist), sew masks for doctors and nurses, etc.

10) Control something. Now is the time to unleash your inner Marie Kondo upon your home office, closet, or pantry and regain a tiny shred of control. Type A's—rejoice!

11) Start a big project. Learn to play an instrument, take some online classes, start a big jigsaw puzzle, program the ultimate video game mod, watch a 7-season TV show, etc. Anything to keep you busy, distracted, and engaged.

12) Do some art. Play some music. Dance. Express yourself through whatever media works for you.

13) Laugh. Find something funny every day: silly animal videos on YouTube, a ridiculous comedy on Netflix, etc.

14) Reach out for help. Talk to your people. Feel your feels. You may have to be 6 feet away, but you don't have to do this alone.

15) Remember this is temporary. We don't know how long this will last, but we do know that at some point, this will all be behind us and we will go back to feeling free, safe, and connected.

16) Make this meaningful. What do you want to learn from this difficult experience? What needs to change about your life? In your relationships? Your priorities? Your community? Take the opportunity to make meaning from this challenge and make it an opportunity to grow.

17) Practice mindfulness. Research tells us that taking time to breathe and re-center every day can make a huge difference. Try the 5 minute meditation I posted earlier this month.

18) Keep washing your hands!

gendlin

Otter Cam!

HopeLeia

keller

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 5.07.50 PM

illnesswellness

z94mvjpfham21

A 5-Minute Meditation

Research consistently tells us that meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself. In the midst of all this stress and uncertainty, remember to take time each day to breathe deeply and to be in the present moment. I wanted to share a lovely, short meditation that will help you feel calmer, more present, and more grounded. Sending you peace and love.

Pandemic
by Lynn Ungar


What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

LOCKDOWN
by Fr. Richard Hendrick


Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

We Are Less Scared Together

horse

How to Make Stress Your Friend

When I was in graduate school, a lot of the focus was on how BAD stress is, how physically damaging it is to our bodies. As psychologists, we've been trained that stress is, well, kind of the enemy. However, Kelly McGonigal convincingly articulates in this TED talk that this is exactly the wrong approach and that we should see physical signs of stress (e.g. racing heart, faster breathing) not as something to dread, but as evidence that your body is helping you rise to the challenge.

She also makes the case that the hormone oxytocin is part of the body's incredible stress response — it motivates you to strengthen close relationships, to seek physical contact, be more empathic, offer help, or talk about your feelings. She explains to us that receiving/giving support has been demonstrated to help people recover faster from stress. As she so succinctly puts it, "caring creates resilience."

So, in times of crisis, and in the simple day-to-day bumps of life, I hope you will stay mindful of the importance of trusting your body's stress response and remember that reaching out might (literally!) save your life.





Joy Is Contagious

I just saw this lovely video set to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." It's a commercial (naturally!), but it's still quite touching. As a musician, I've often turned to music to feel grounded, to feel calm, to express myself, and to feel good — playing music just makes me happy.

Things are very unsettled in our world right now and we're all feeling that — the anxiety is contagious. So, I wanted to take a moment to share something lovely that put a smile on my face, in the hopes it will do that for you, too.

Remember as you go through this challenging time to breathe, to exercise, to meditate, to talk to loved ones, to acknowledge your worries, and also to laugh, to play, to seek things that bring you calm, connection, love, safety, and joy.