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Is “Pandemic Fatigue” just a buzzword?

We are nearing the one-year mark from the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Maybe this year feels like it has flown by, or maybe it feels like it would never end. How would you sum up the past year?  









This list could probably go on forever. Each person has experienced this pandemic differently. Some may have lost family members, friends, jobs, money, or housing. Some may have been crippled with the fear of getting sick or having a loved one get sick. Some may have been frustrated as their work continued on as “normal” but they felt anything but normal at work.  

It is important to reflect on all these things and the ways life has been drastically impacted by COVID-19. It has changed our “life as we know it” and created new ways of doing things.  

I wish I could tell you that COVID-19 is in the past and that we can finally look back on that time and be thankful that it is over. But unfortunately, that is not the case. It seems that it will be here for a little while longer.  

Are you just tired of it? Are you experiencing what some are calling Pandemic Fatigue? 


You’ve been homeschooling your kids for far longer than you thought, the winter months are dragging on and bringing worse weather with them, and you’re still having to be a productive employee, parent, or significant other. Being tired and frustrated are completely valid feelings.  

Your sympathetic nervous system, better known as the fight or flight response, has been in overdrive throughout the duration of this pandemic. You’re essentially burning the candle at both ends, and now your candle is completely gone.  

Adrenaline is a good thing for a short period of time. It causes your heart to beat faster, increases blood flow to the brain, and stimulates your body to make sugar for fuel. The combination of all these things can get you out of a sticky situation quickly! This fight or flight reaction keeps us alive. 



Usually, this response would stop after the stimulus is removed. For example, if you saw a snake while out for a walk in the woods you would see the snake, experience a rush of adrenaline, and quickly jump and run far away from that snake. When you finally reach a safe distance from the snake, your heart would stop racing and you would begin to catch your breath.  

While this is the normal response, it has likely not been your experience during the pandemic. There have been so many stressful events occurring one after another that your body has not had the time to take a break. Factor in the political climate, the daily news, the winter months, and you might discover that you have not had a chance to even catch your breath. Not to mention, your body has been running off adrenaline for far too long.  

I am here to tell you, that feeling you’re feeling is Pandemic Fatigue and it’s 100% real.  

Okay, now that you understand Pandemic Fatigue, what the heck do you do about it.?  The following are three simple steps to help you begin to address it. 

Be gentle with yourself.

The first thing might not sound like a lot, but it is one of the most important. Give yourself some SLACK. Know that you are doing the best with what you have been given and show yourself some compassion. Maybe you need to put less things on your to-do list and be okay if the dishes don’t get washed tonight.  

Affirm yourself.

Secondly, write down positive affirmations. 



Create a few statements that resonate the most with you and tape them on your mirror or write them in a journal. Affirming yourself daily is important and is a great habit to form.  

Validate your emotions.

Finally, validate your emotions. Emotions are automatic, physiological responses to something around you. You can acknowledge what your body is telling you by validating these emotions as they come up throughout the day. This might look like telling yourself:  

“I am tired, and that’s okay.”  

“I feel lonely right now because……” 

“I am overwhelmed by…”

“I’m so excited for….”

This might seem silly at first, but keep doing it and you’ll find that it actually helps!  

There doesn’t seem to be an “end date” to this pandemic, but there are a few things you can do to help relieve the stress of living through it. Continue to remind yourself that these are indeed unprecedented time; you’re allowed to learn as you go! Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional if you feel you need additional support, we’re here for you.  

Do you wish you could “keep calm and carry on?”

Many people say, “keep calm and carry on,” but that can be incredibly difficult for someone experiencing anxiety. Anxiety looks and feels different for each person because our bodies respond differently to the things surrounding us. Do you think you experience anxiety, but you’re just not sure? Or maybe you’ve struggled with it for as long as you can remember? 

Oftentimes, anxiety can look like an elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, flushed skin, difficulty falling asleep, and tense muscles.  

Classic examples of when you might notice higher levels of anxiety are while public speaking, going on a first date, or walking into an event where you only know a few people. These situations are understandable for someone to experience anxiety, right? 

But anxiety doesn’t always happen in one of those settings. Sometimes it feels random, like while you’re driving in the car, sitting in class, at work, or even while lying in bed trying to go to sleep. Often, anxiety catches us completely off guard, as these feelings seem to come out of nowhere!  

What do you do when this happens?  

Anxiety is a way for our bodies to be prepared to act, whether that be freeze and hide or run away as fast as possible. However, when we’re simply trying to fall asleep neither of these options are realistic or helpful.  

There are a vast number of coping skills that can help reduce anxiety. The main priority in all of them is to convey to our brains and bodies that we indeed are okay and are not in harm’s way.   

Below are a few of the many options that can help reduce anxiety: 


You might be asking, “I am currently breathing…to stay alive….how in the world can this help me with anxiety??”  

Well, believe it or not breathing can greatly reduce anxiety and has been shown to do this time and time again through research. Paying attention to your breath brings you into the present moment and slowing down your breath can even slow your heart rate down! 

Box breathing is a simple breathing technique that you can do anywhere!  

Wherever you are, spend a moment focusing on your breath. Then, whenever you are ready, slowly inhale to the count of four. Hold your breath for four seconds. Then, slowly exhale to the count of four. And finally, hold your breath again for a count of four before starting again. Repeat this a couple of times.  

Feel free to do this exercise multiple times a day! 


No, you don’t have to be a yoga extraordinaire to be able to practice mindfulness! For many people, mindfulness can seem very daunting and intimidating at first. Being alone with your thoughts might even seem terrifying. But, keep in mind that mindfulness is a skill, it’s something that needs to be practiced regularly to gain experience. However, you don’t even need to be an expert to at mindfulness to gain the benefits! 

We tend to walk through the day focusing on what has already happened or preparing for what is going to happen in the future. Mindfulness simply brings your mind to the present moment, away from the past or the future. There are a couple ways to do this:  

  1. Focus Meditations: Find an object where you are and spend some time focusing on that object. What color is it? What does it feel like? Smell like? Pay attention to the lines of this object. Spend time memorizing that object and every single detail about it.  
  2. Mindful Walking:  During a walk, notice all the things around you. Are there leaves on the trees? Is the wind blowing? Are there any noises around you? What does it sound like when your feet hit the ground? How does the sun feel on your skin? Take note throughout your walk of all your surroundings.  

You might find these difficult at first. Your mind might start to wander, causing your thoughts to go off on tangents. Remember that mindfulness takes practice and patience. When you find your mind wandering, simply bring your thoughts back to what you were focusing on previously. Be kind to yourself, this is a skill and will take time!  


When anxiety takes over it’s easy to get lost in your thoughts. You might even feel like you’re starting to float away. Grounding can counteract that feeling and bring you back to the present moment, again.  

A very simple way to ground yourself is to take your shoes off. Take a minute to feel the ground underneath you. It might even help to go outside and stand barefoot on the grass. I know this seems like such a simple thing, but it can really help bring your thoughts back to the present moment by including your sense of touch.  

Doing a daily body scan is another great grounding exercise. Spend some time, wherever you are, focusing on your body. What feels tense? What is sore or maybe even hurts? Can you feel your heartbeat? Are your legs crossed or are both feet on the floor? Take enough time that you can spend an equal amount of time on each part of your body: head, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, stomach, legs, ankles, and feet.  

Remember, there is no quick fix. But the first step in alleviating anxiety is recognizing and acknowledging it. After you recognize your anxiety increasing, practice one of these exercises. Your anxiety won’t disappear completely, but you might be more relaxed and even find that your concentration and attention improve! Living with anxiety can be difficult, but hopefully these exercises will give you a few tools to help cope with it.  

What are Singles Supposed to do for Valentine’s Day?

February 14th is such an odd day. You have couples wandering around starry-eyed, planning large romantic dinners while single individuals move about their day pretending everything is normalI’m here to tell you that if you’re single, Valentine’s Day is for you too!  

So often Valentine’s Day gets simplified to romantic love, but its actually just a day for love, whether that’s yourself, your friends, or your partner. While it can be VERY discouraging for singles, it doesn’t have to be that way. Needing some help to brighten up your single Valentine’s Day? You’re in the right place!!

Get a group of your friends together to celebrate each other. Maybe you can share a socially distanced meal outside or hop on a zoom call for Cocktails and Compliments. Designate some time with those you care about to lift up one another and share encouragements. This might seem simple, but it can make a huge difference.  

Spend the evening prioritizing yourself. This can be as simple as watching your favorite movie or playing your favorite video game with a good snack. Or you could do some self-care activities like meditating, going to get a massage, ordering your favorite meal…the options are limitless! Having trouble thinking of good self-care activities? That’s okay! Just brainstorm things that make you happy, bring you joy, or make you feel relaxed, these can be big or small!  

Gather a couple friends and write letters to each other. Validation and encouragement are important, and letters are a great way to express both of those! Who doesn’t like getting a handwritten letter in the mail? You could meet to exchange them in person, or send them by mail to be COVID friendly.  

Valentine’s day doesn’t have to be discouraging for singles, instead it can be a day full of love for yourself and those around you. You might find that these activities are something you want to make a more regular occurrence


Two Clinicians Offer Some Insight on Relationships

Are you experiencing a few hiccups in your relationship? Maybe feeling disconnected from your partner? Or maybe you’re just looking to continue growing with your loved one?  

Relationships can be difficult and it is easy to get discouraged at times. There are so many different opinions out there about how to make a relationship last, but do they actually work? Thankfully there are some very talented clinicians in the office who have worked with many couples throughout their careers.  Michelle Kane, PsyD. and Dortch Mann, LCMHC have happily shared some topics they have noticed during their work with couples.  

Have you noticed problems in communication or connection?  

Most couples Michelle meets with come in wanting to work on “communication.”  However, what she typically finds as the cause of their poor communication is actually a lack of connection. We, as humans, generally lack all the necessary information needed to fully understand what a person means when they are communicating, often causing it to be imperfect. If our connection is lacking with our significant other when this poor communication occurs, we will likely fill in the blanks with something negative. However, when we are well connected with our significant other, we are much more likely to fill in the blanks with something positive, assuming they have the best intentions.  

For example, when well connected with our partner, we may decide that “Are you cooking dinner tonight?” is a genuine, curious question. However, when lacking connection we might see it as a demand to hit the kitchen or an indictment of not cooking enough. 

You might be thinking, “Well how do I deepen my connection to improve communication?”

Connecting on a deeper level takes time and often times effort. Perhaps more simply, be mindful of small opportunities to connect on a more regular basis. This might look like checking in with each other regularly or finding small amounts of time to be present with each other during otherwise chaotic days. 

For more information on this, check out John Gottman’s work on bids for connection. He has a blog and many difference resources available on his website.  

Dortch Mann mentioned that the reason couples come to him is most often due to unmet expectations. These unmet expectations are usually viewed by couple as a “problem to be solved.” They come in thinking that something, from their perspective, needs to be “fixed” and they’re hoping he can help. 

Dortch loves to help couples see that, in many cases, they don’t need to “solve” a problem. Instead, they need to “outgrow” it. Many times, he finds that couples can simply outgrow the problem by focusing on this: 

What do we hope we will create (or nurture)?  

Through his experience he has found that hope is more motivating, more resilient, and much more sustainable than expectations. Hope grows. He finds that moving couple closer to “hope” and further from their “fix it” mindset fosters more fruitful and enjoyable relationships.  

Maybe this month, you prioritize sitting down with your significant other and looking at problems that you as a couple can “outgrow” instead of focusing on the need to “fix” them.  Ask them what they are hoping to create or nurture in the relationship. Then ask yourself what you’re hoping to create or nurture in the relationship.  

Michelle Kayne, PsyD  
Dortch Mann, LCMHC

You can find more about both these clinicians and others on our website!

Maintaining Goals in the New Year

1. Have a maximum of THREE goals. It can be very tempting to set too many goals, but that can actually hurt you in the long run. Stay focused on a couple and realize that you can always set new goals when the previous ones are accomplished.

2. Know your why. Why is this goal important for you? Why have you chosen this goal specifically? If you can figure out why, you will feel much more motivated to complete your goal. If you can’t figure out why you have that goal, it might be helpful to reevaluate. Here is a great post on how to set SMART goals.  


3. Write them down. Have your goal written in a place that you can see it regularly, either every day or multiple times a day. You could write in on a mirror where you get ready in the morning or somewhere in your car so you can see it often. You might even want to make a vision board to put somewhere special. This is a creative way to display your goal!

4. Tell others about your goal. Accountability is incredibly important and can sometimes make or break your ability to meet a difficult goal. If others know about your goal, they can help encourage you along the way and point out times that you may be slacking.  


5. Visualize yourself accomplishing your goal. Visualization is an important tool to use. This can help give you the confidence to keep pushing when times get hard. If your goal is to run a 5k, visualize yourself running through the finish line on a regular basis. This may seem silly, but this small practice can make a huge difference.    

What exactly is Seasonal Depression?

Have you noticed a difference in yourself or someone you know during the winter months? The days are shorter, weather is colder, and it is dark outside far more than it is light. All these changes can impact people differently. Some may refer to this as seasonal depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This can result in a loss of energy, changes in appetite, feelings of sadness, depressed mood, and changes in sleep.  

Some of these changes can feel scary, but they are actually normal. Your body responds to the time change, colder temperatures, and less sunlight making seasonal depression common. Your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, can be thrown off by the longer nights, leaving you feeling groggy and tired. Changes in circadian rhythm can also impact melatonin, which is usually secreted at night. The longer nights during the winter can impact this secretion, leaving you feeling tired and fatigued during the day.  While all these changes can be uncomfortable and unsettling, keep in mind that as the days get longer and the temperatures increase this will fade away.  

Wondering what you can do to help in the meantime? Great question! There are plenty of things you can implement to help improve your mood during these long winter months.

Get outside  

This is simple right? Can this really make a difference? 

Absolutely. It’s simple and can have a HUGE impact. Your body needs vitamin D (sunlight) and exercise. So why not do both at the same time??  

Taking a quick 10 minute walk around the neighborhood can greatly impact your mood and help your body get the vitamin D it needs. It’s best to do this a couple times a week, and even better if you can find time to do it daily. 


Leaning on those around you (figuratively, thanks to COVID) can help during the winter months. This will help to reduce feelings of isolation and sadness.  

There aren’t many gatherings due to current restrictions, but Facetime and Zoom are great alternatives. If there are small, socially distanced gift exchanges or dinners, make an effort to go. You might not want to because you’re tired or don’t feel like socializing, but these are some of the most important times to make sure that you go.  

This could also look like grabbing coffee with a friend or coworker, volunteering at a local non-profit, or joining a support group. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or reach out to a therapist to help you get through this season.  


With all the changes going on in our bodies during the winter months, it’s important to fuel our bodies with nutrient dense foods. This can be especially hard during the holidays because there are so many good sweets and treats around. Enjoy your holiday meals and make sure to incorporate some healthier options during the week.  

Some foods that might have the best impact on your brain and body health are cruciferous veggies, foods high in Omega-3s, nuts and beans. Some examples of good veggies are arugula, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. You can eat salmon, chia seeds, and flax seed for those great Omega-3 fats. And finally, walnuts, cashews, and beans. Incorporating these into your diet will help your body get all the needed vitamins and minerals. 

Get Cozy 

Find a funny movie, a comfortable sofa, and a warm blanket. Maybe even brew some coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to sip on. Embracing the season won’t fix it, but it might help you enjoy some parts of it. Maybe even splurge on a warm new hoodie to wear on your outside walks! 

Experiencing Grief and Loss During the Holidays

For some, the holidays are the most exciting time of the year. It seems this year especially, people started preparing and celebrating much earlier than usual. Stores and homes are decorated, people are shopping for the perfect gifts, and festive music seems to always be playing. While this is great for those who love the holidays, it can be tricky for those missing a loved one. Since the holidays are usually a time spent with family and those we love most, it can bring up some painful and hard feelings for those missing loved ones who have passed.  

Are you dreading this holiday season? Maybe you’re wondering how you’re going to get through yet another painful time?  

Here are some things that might help as you move through this difficult time:  

Acknowledge the pain and validate your emotions 

Unfortunately, there is no perfect timeframe or way to grieve. During this time, it may be helpful to acknowledge the pain you feel. Many times, we try staying busy or continuing to stuff our feelings down hoping to avoid those painful emotions. These emotions can sometimes look like sadness, anxiety, frustration, guilt, anger, and lack of motivation. These emotions might also come with thoughts like “I don’t want to do this,” or “How will I survive?” These are all normal emotions and thoughts to have throughout the grieving process. Actively addressing these painful emotions and uncomfortable thoughts is important, and especially important during the holidays. Some ways to do that may be writing in a journal, talking to a loved one, getting outside, or regularly moving your body. Again, there is no perfect way to grieve, but one of the most important things is that you acknowledge your pain and validate your emotions. 

Don’t be afraid to say “No”

The author Aundi Kolber once said, “Boundary work is often grief work.” This is so true and something to keep in mind during the holidays. Give yourself the freedom to say no. Going to certain small dinners or participating in gift swaps might be too painful, and it’s okay if you don’t want to participate. It can be easy to feel pressured to please other people, however setting healthy boundaries for yourself will limit stress and potential triggers. With that being said, isolation is a dangerous place to be. Set healthy boundaries to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed but continue to engage with those close individuals around you, even when you might not want to. 

Feel isolated? Reach out to a friend or family member and safely grab a coffee or go on a socially distanced walk. This may be difficult at times, but staying engaged and connected to others during your grief journey is important.  

Remember the good memories 

Spend some time reflecting on the exciting and joyful times you spent with your loved one. You might do this by lighting a candle for them or decorating something in their honor and memory. Did they have a favorite food you can cook or holiday song you can sing along to? Find a tangible reminder of them, tell stories about your loved one, and maybe even browse through old photos.  You might decide to keep some of your old traditions the same because you know it would make them happy and help you remember the special times you had with them. 

Create new memories and traditions  

Maybe this year you add one or two things to your list of usual traditions. Always sent a Holiday Card? Maybe you skip that this year and drive around to look at neighborhood lights instead! Or schedule a safe, socially distanced brunch instead of having the usual dinner. This is a time to be creative and step outside the box. A fresh activity this season might bring some joy you haven’t experienced in a while. 

Honor your loved one 

Spreading joy in their name this season is a great way to honor your loved one.  You can buy something they would love and donate it to a non-profit or donate money in their name. You could even light a candle or make their favorite dish or dessert. There are many ways to honor your loved one during the season, don’t be afraid to get creative. 

Ask for help 

Even though this season can feel lonely, remember that you are not alone. Reach out to someone close to you when you need some support and let them know how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to make an appointment with a counsellor or join a support group to help you during this difficult and challenging time. 

Goal Setting for the New Year!

Do you have a difficult time setting goals? Sometimes it can seem daunting to set goals, even scary at times. Here are a few ideas that might help you as this year ends and another begins. A good acronym to use when brainstorming goals is SMART. We will walk through what each letter represents and practical ways you can use it to set your goals for the New Year!

S: Specific

Goals need to be specific and narrow. It’s important for you to know exactly what you’re striving for. This may help you visualize yourself achieving the goal and will help you know exactly when to check it off as completed.

M: Measurable

How can you prove you’re moving in the right direction or making progress towards completing your goal? It is important to be able to measure your progress and ultimate success. This will also allow you to set milestones along the way. Sometimes breaking a big goal down into smaller, measurable steps can be very helpful.

A: Achievable

Do you have a habit of setting goals and never achieving them? Sometimes we have the best of intentions when setting goals, but never make them realistic and achievable. Remember, you can start small and create another goal once you complete the first one.

R: Relevant

Does this goal align with your core values, beliefs, and purpose? This goal should line up with your long-term goals and be relevant to the things happening in your life. When thinking about if this is relevant ask yourself how it applies to your long-term goals and purpose.

T: Time-Based

Is there an end-date to your goal? Setting a timeframe or time limit will help keep you motivated along the way. Sometimes our time limit can be too short or too long, and both of these can negatively impact the ability to complete a goal. Take this into consideration when setting your goal, if you don’t complete your goal, think about how time affected your ability to complete your goal. This will help you be better prepared next time.

Now that you’re an expert goal setter, it’s time to get started! Look at the different areas of your life like career, health and fitness, hobby, spiritual, and financial. You don’t have to set goals in each of these areas so just pick a couple that are a priority for you and start making some SMART goals!

Good luck!

Eight tips to incorporate this holiday season!

We understand what a whirlwind this time of the year can feel like and wanted to give you some quick, easy tips to incorporate this season.

Keep It Simple: Do you have a hard time picking out presents? Maybe you feel like you have to find the perfect one? So many times we feel the need to go overboard for presents, but sometimes simple gifts are the best gifts. This principle is the same if you’re safely having a couple people over for a small get together. Make it simple for you and your guests by having everyone bring a dish.

Plan Ahead: Weekdays and weekends during this time of the year seem to fill up very quickly. To help reduce some stress, at the beginning of each week see whats on the calendar for the week ahead. You may be able to grab something ahead of time or combine a few errands to save time!

Ask For Help: Asking for help can feel uncomfortable, but many times it’s needed. This could look like asking someone to help you plan a small, safe get together or help you cook a dish. Sometimes asking for help can look like hiring a babysitter for the night or having a close friend or family member watch the kids. Teamwork makes the dream work! Don’t be afraid to lean on those around you (and maintain social distancing) this holiday season!

Find Time for Yourself: Holidays tend to be focused on others, but we can’t forget our own personal needs. Schedule some time for yourself this season. Maybe take yourself to splurge on a nice coffee or ask a friend to join you on a socially distanced walk.

Say No: It’s very easy to overbook during this time of the year. There are always so many fun things going on, or so many things your family members want to do. Make sure to sit down with your calendar and set limits to prevent being stretched too thin. Saying “no” is a good thing and can prevent you from being burnt out and overwhelmed. It is also important to sit down with your family and set limits on what your COVID safety limits are. This might help some confusion later and keep everyone on the same page.

Do Something Fun: Is there a hobby you haven’t done in a while? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Find some time in your schedule to do something fun while following safety guidelines. This might even mean checking something off your bucket list, whether it’s by yourself or with a few friends or family.

Create a Budget and Stick to It: It’s very easy to get swept up in the holiday spirit and lose track of how much things are adding up to cost! To prevent this from happening, sit down ahead of time and budget your spending for the season. This isn’t the most fun activity, but you’ll thank yourself later!

Stay Happy and Healthy: Holidays during COVID times are unprecedented for sure! Remember to social distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands while enjoying your time with those around you.