Expert Connexions: COVID-19 Impact on Mental Health

Stress, anxiety, and depression may have nothing to do with the actual coronavirus, but they are three common ailments that people are feeling as a result of COVID-19.

Americans are reporting significant and sustained increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this live panel discussion, we talk with two mental health experts about how the pandemic is impacting adults, teens, and children, and the resources available to help.

Joyce Marter, LCPC Psychotherapist, Writer & Speaker is a renowned national keynote speaker and corporate trainer in mental health. Her work reached an international audience of over 1 billion people in 2018 and she has been featured in a wide variety of international media, including CNN, MTV, MSN, The Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine and more. Learn more:

Kristine Kuhnert is the Director of Ele’s Place – Capital Region, a healing center for grieving teens and children. She has been active with Ele’s Place, starting as a volunteer, since 2006. During the State mandated shut down in Michigan, Ele’s Place offices are not open to the public. However, they do continue to provide grief support. Learn more:


Julie: Good morning. Welcome to our special live series called Expert Connexions. I’m Julie Holton, I’m the Principal Strategist and Founder of mConnexions marketing agency and I am so glad that you are joining us this morning as we kick off a new week in this special series. We launched Expert Connexions back in March knowing that we really wanted a way to connect our clients in our community to experts within our network in order to get the information and resources that we all need to navigate this COVID-19 pandemic. You can find all of those interviews with attorneys, CPAs, mental health advisors, and others on our website This week I’m excited to bring you four straight days of live interviews. We love a good roundtable discussion and so we thought that’s exactly what we would bring to you this week. So I can’t think of a more important topic to kick off this week and then mental health. It’s something that impacts all of us in business and in the life of course and so joining us today we have two mental health experts to talk about this with us. We have Joyce Marter, she is a Psychotherapist, Author and Keynote Speaker known internationally for her work in mental health and Kristine Kuhnert are the Director of Ele’s place Capital Region a center for grieving a healing center for grieving children and teens. So Joyce and Kristine thank you so much for joining us this morning.

Kristine: Thank you for having us.

Joyce: Thanks so much Julie for being such a mental health advocate. I so appreciate the invitation to be with you today.

Julie: Well thank you. I appreciate having some experts to talk about this. I was joking with my team this morning that this was going to be a good solid therapy session for me. So for those of you who are tuning in please feel free to ask your questions throughout the next half hour or so. You have the attention of Joyce and Kristine so let’s go ahead and get started. Joyce, I want to start with you, let’s talk about how the pandemic is affecting mental health. What are you seeing in your practice?

Joyce: Oh my goodness before the pandemic we already were experiencing a world mental health epidemic and then when you add the pandemic on top of it the research is saying that 45 percent of adult Americans are reporting that their mental health has seriously declined since the pandemic. So we were already seeing the highest suicide rates ever, highest rates of depression and anxiety and addiction and on top of that, we’ve added the pandemic which is a massive trauma for us all. We’re all trying to wrap our brains around this global event that’s impacting our health and safety and finances and every single aspect of our life. So it’s a massive stressor and in my practice, I’m seeing thankfully a lot of people seeking mental health counseling and therapy. I am a huge mental health advocate and I believe we all need therapy or counseling at different points in our lives and I think it’s something healthy and proactive, it doesn’t mean that you’re crazy or in crisis. We all have physical health, we have mental health like we have physical health and we need to take care of it. So I love it when people reach out for the support that we all need and deserve.

Julie: Joyce you mentioned when we were talking offline you talked a little bit about how everyone is experiencing trauma and some people are experiencing PTSD. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Joyce: Yeah I think oftentimes people think that post-traumatic stress disorder is something that only happens to War veterans or people who experience some horrible catastrophe or life event and really the research is saying that on some level we are all experiencing some form of PTSD right now. For people who have actually had the virus or lost a loved one, the rates are very high. For people who have loved ones who are sick or have been sick themselves they’re also very high and even for the general population they’re saying as many as 10% of us are experiencing full-fledged post-traumatic stress disorder. Which involves stress, anxiety, depression, inability to sleep insomnia, perhaps some irritability or anger, difficulty concentrating, and we need to understand that this is a normal response to the pandemic and it’s based on our level of personal trauma that we may have in our history. Old traumas get triggered by these current events and kind of brought up to the surface and we need to be very gentle with ourselves and seek the help that is available and effective.

Julie:  I love that being gentle with ourselves. That’s so true we tend to be gentle with the people around us and the people we care about, but sometimes we tend to fall off of that list of people to be nice too. Kristine, I want to ask you about the impact on children. This has come up so many times as we’re talking and I think Joyce all of the things you mentioned I hear friends and family and myself dealing with these as adults, Kristine what about the children and teenagers in our lives?

Kristine: I’m going to echo a lot of what Joyce just said you know you can’t get away from what’s going on in the world and our kiddos aren’t getting away from it. They are you know it’s on social media so there’s an increase in and concentrate you know not being able to concentrate, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, trouble eating, you know our kiddos are experiencing a tremendous amount of stress and they’re seeing their parents or their guardians experience this as well which is adding to their foundation of safety because we’re all feeling I think a little bit vulnerable and not knowing what tomorrow is going to bring us.

Julie: Absolutely.

Joyce: Yeah I would add to that you know as the mother of two teenage daughters and I have a stepson who’s 21 there’s you know we’re all experiencing grief and loss and I think especially for adolescents and young adults it’s really difficult to wrap your brain around why you’re not in school, why you can’t see your friends and I loved the article in the Harvard Business Review about that uncomfortable feeling that we’re all experiencing is grief and you know I think for the adolescents it’s particularly hard because that’s a hard time of life.

Kristine: Well and they don’t quite have the mental ability to understand it. I mean you know a friend of mine is turning 50 tomorrow and you think it’s a great big celebration you know it’s a milestone, it’s different now. This weekend I had a child turned 21. That’s a 20-year-old brain, a 50-year-old can process a little easier and then you go back to our teenagers even younger they don’t have the ability to really understand and put it in perspective. They’re just not there yet and that adds to all of the stress of our kiddos and we know that social media can be a wonderful tool, but right now that’s all our kiddos are using and it also can if you’re isolated or we are all isolated it may further that isolation and even further bring out that anxiety and depression.

Julie: That’s interesting you know I was talking to my sister who has three young children they’re 8 years old, 6 years old, and 3 years old, almost four and one of her eight-year-old daughters friends is an only child who lives with a single mother who’s a nurse and so my sister was telling me about how the girls her daughter is going to get together with this friend and you know and all the reasons why they’re going to break the stay-at-home order in order to do this and I thought wow I did not even think about and there are so many people in situations like this and for a child to be isolated in such a way and probably worried about her mom and you know whatever else she’s going through it you know really brings perspective on the situation and so and I want to ask you too about you know Joyce you were talking about all of the different you know types of all of the different ways that this can that the trauma can start to come out whether it’s you know insomnia or stress, heightened anxiety, what about you know loneliness or what about you know what are some of the even short-term or long-term impacts? What are we looking at there?

Joyce: I mean it’s really truly hard to wrap your brain around. I think all of us are experiencing attachment issues, so we’re human beings we’re meant to be connected to one another and for people who are single or living alone or your example of the single mom with one child, I have a friend in the same situation, there’s a lot of isolation and that can really trigger a depression. We need support from others so that’s why it’s so important to use you know online support groups and online therapy and make sure that we’re having you know our connections with people through social media or perhaps going for a walk, social distance with friends. It’s essential for our mental health and then on the other side for people who aren’t isolated if they’re sheltering in place with their family there’s a lot of relationship conflict that’s happening. I have a lot of sessions taking place with people in their cars because they’re so mad at their significant other that they need somewhere private to vent for a few minutes. We’re all under extreme stress and it’s affecting our attachment, our connection to each other, and our sense of safety in the world.

Kristine: Julie you were just talking about your friend who’s a single parent, I think what we can all remember to do is if you know somebody who is in that situation who doesn’t maybe have another adult in the house or and with a child of making a point because of this connection of making a quick phone call, sending a quick text, hey I’m just checking in, how are you today and I remember that’s always a key question it’s not how are you because how are you and how are you today are two different questions and right now our emotions are like waves and they could be very calming that might be a good time or you might be having a very like a tsunami of emotions coming through and that that reach out make all the difference.

Joyce: I love that Kristine and I would add that sometimes if we’re honest about what we’re feeling when someone says how are you instead of saying I’m great I’m doing just fine to say you know what I this is hard, I’m in a funk, my brain is not working. I’ve said several times I feel like my brain is like a scrambled egg through this experience. I think you know if we can talk openly about the depression and anxiety and the fear that we’re experiencing we invite those deeper conversations for people to share with us so we can be a support to them.

Kristine: Absolutely.

Julie: I love that and we’ve been talking a lot about social media both online and offline the three of us and I love the idea to put those two ideas to get scrambled egg brain, put those ideas together and using social media for good right now and to be able to share some of those messages and talk about what we’re feeling and how we’re getting through it and maybe some things that are helping. Kristine, I want to talk a little bit about this open letter that you wrote and then I don’t know if it is a week or two ago but when I read it many times now. I’ve shared it with my own team, I’ve shared it with my family because I think it touches on in so many ways what so many people are feeling and I pulled part of it, but Christine maybe you can talk first before I pull up a couple of excerpts out about why you wrote this letter? What really motivated you to share some of your grief and your thoughts and feelings with the community?

Kristine: Well I was talking with a girlfriend and Joyce I’m going to back up to what you said when you were talking about PTSD and it brings out, I honestly feel I’m going back through. So for those who don’t know five and a half years ago my husband was killed by a drunk driver and at that time I had an eleven, a thirteen, and fifteen-year-old, and when a police officer comes in your home in the middle of the night to share that news it’s like your world stops at that moment and when I was talking to my friend about this, when did you ever think that the world would stop? When would you ever think that the United States of America stopped and as we talked about I said I am watching on social media how people are talking about it and I am right back where I was five and a half years ago. You don’t know hour to hour what kind of news you’re going to get and so as we talked about it my friend Margaret said you know you should really write a piece about it and so that’s where that all came from and I think it also is so important that people know you’re not alone and your feelings are valid.

Julie: I love that so much and all for those of you who are watching if you haven’t read the letter we’ll make sure and share a link so that you can do that. I’m going to pull a couple of experts out because Kristine one of the things that really touched me so deeply about this is you’ve been of course so open about sharing your trauma and your family’s trauma with the community and one of the things that really struck me about it is that you recognize in this letter that whatever you are going through you meaning our audience whatever people are experiencing whether it’s sadness whether it seems trivial or not you validate what they’re feeling and you recognize that trauma and that grief and I think that’s so important because so many people downplay. We downplay what we’re feeling and we push it aside and we say oh someone else is dealing with more than I am and you two can speak to this better than I can but that does not seem like a healthy way of dealing with the feelings and things that were going through.

Kristine: It’s not because all feelings are okay and I just had this conversation with a friend she had a big event recently that she missed big family affair and she said you know what I’m sad, but you know I shouldn’t be because you know my husband’s still working, everyone’s healthy, everything’s good, and I had to stop her and say you know what it’s okay for you to be sad. Stop saying because everything else you don’t have a right to be sad because guess what, all feelings are okay and you had this big milestone event happening for your family it didn’t happen anymore and I think people seem to forget that it’s just okay to sit with somebody and it’s okay to be sad.

Joyce: Absolutely. We have to have empathy for each other and self-compassion for ourselves and honor our own feelings and Kristine and I just think it’s so powerful that you share your story of grief and loss. I can’t imagine what that was like for you and I’ve studied EMDR which is really effective trauma therapy and when I went through that training they basically explained that when we experience trauma like the pandemic it taps into all of our earlier life traumas. So losses of loved ones or accidents or injuries or health issues that we might have experienced and we’ve all as human beings had some level of trauma in our lives and so it’s like a web and the current trauma taps into the old trauma and that’s exactly what happens. It feels like you’re back in that moment in time and it’s a completely normal response. It doesn’t mean that you’ve completely regressed it’s just the way our psyches work because our minds and our bodies can’t fully process trauma and our feelings get stuck in the body and there’s such a powerful mind-body connection that we really need to honor what we are experiencing and be so gentle with ourselves at this time and not compare ourselves to others.

Julie: That’s so beautiful Joyce and it leads right into you what it’s like you both could have written this you know one right after the other. So I’m just going to share a couple and the entire letter I encourage you to read the entire letter because it really was touching to me, but I pulled just a few pieces out and Kristine says we are a society that is used to fixing problems – fast, but grief is messy. Isn’t that so true that we just want to fix this, we want this to be over, we want businesses to be thriving, and people to be healthy and back out celebrating the start you know the unofficial start to summer, but we don’t feel that right now and so Kristine writes grief is not linear. It is okay to not have answers right now. It is okay to just sit with someone and feel sad. Somedays, the best we can do we can all do is take things one day, one hour or one breath at a time. All feelings are okay. And you talk about that being one of the guiding principles at Ele’s place and I just think that is so interesting. So during this time, I think that is something that just really speaks to me that whatever you are feeling, it is okay. Kristine I want to ask you about we have a couple of questions so I’m getting a little distracted I want to jump over and make sure we’re answering the questions that are being asked. So Cindy wants to know if you can share both of you let’s start with Kristine how has COVID-19 been affecting those who were already grieving? It’s a great question, Cindy.

Kristine: It’s a great question, you know grief is isolating, to begin with, and then you take this isolation to the next level you know I think of our families and our kiddos you know if they’ve experienced the death of a parent our kiddos are now wondering and we’ve heard this from families, what happens if the other parent dies? What’s happening? What happens if someone died during this time and you weren’t able to go to the funeral? You know a funeral in our society is a time that we connect, we’re going back to that connection that we’ve been talking about, we connect, we share stories, we start the process of grieving and that’s not there right now. What if you weren’t with the person when they died, then there’s that guilt and that added stress. So there are so many different layers right now with our grieving families. You know I also think of our families in my situation. When Scott died he was the primary breadwinner and so we had a huge economic impact. Now you add on this layer what’s happening is they’ve had an economic impact and now another one so the layers upon layers for our grieving families is at times they may be going back to one breath at a time, as I was talking about in my letter.

Joyce: Yes I would add to that if you’re already grieving or you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one during this time that you’re probably more likely to experience what’s called complicated grief and complicated grief is something I experienced actually when I lost my mom in my 30s and it feels, it looks a lot more like a major depressive episode and for me, it meant that I had a very difficult time returning to work, really just felt you know the low mood, lack of energy, a lot of apathy and I needed a lot of support from friends and family and my therapist. So just to recognize that this is an extraordinarily difficult time to grieve because you’re not able to see people or hug people or connect and do the things that would otherwise help you feel better and you may be worried about having even additional losses. So there are online grief support groups available and I would recommend tapping into some of those.

Julie: Joyce can you elaborate a little bit more on, there’s been a big shift a big pivot in mental health services which has been really amazing during all of this because for those of us who can’t go to you know in-office visits now we can turn to more and this was available before but I think now it’s more widespread. Can you talk about how people can seek help and in therapy during this time?

Joyce: Yes, I am very excited about this and I think it’s definitely a silver lining of this pandemic. Prior to the pandemic only a few insurance companies covered telehealth or Teletherapy and now laws have been put into place that all insurances need to reimburse for telehealth and some insurance companies have gone as far as to wave the co-pays entirely for teletherapy including big ones like Aetna. So big shout out to them. Companies like United Healthcare have set up free 1-800 numbers for 24/7 crisis counseling whether you’re a member or not, which is fantastic and I think you know to find a therapist one of the best ways is to visit It’s a little bit like for finding a therapist. It has their photos and a bit about their education and experience and specialties and what insurances they take and therapy is a lot more affordable than people think. With insurance, the copay is often you know anywhere from fifteen to forty dollars per session and through community mental health centers therapy can be free or at a sliding fee rate that’s very affordable.

Julie: Joyce you mentioned crisis counseling and I just want to just maybe have you clarify in case there’s anyone listening who thinks wow yeah maybe therapies for me maybe not, I’m not at a crisis. When should people seek counseling?

Joyce: I’m all about prevention. We don’t wait to go to the dentist and stuff until we need a root canal and we’re in massive pain. So it’s smart to go preventatively and proactively. I make my kids go, I go, my husband goes, it’s just part of health and wellness and right now we’re all under stress. So it really can’t hurt and many of us have free benefits through our Employee Assistance Program. So that’s another resource that’s available and just don’t wait. Error on the side of caution. If you’re having problems sleeping or noticing irritability, you’re noticing you’re not quite yourself, reach out and have a little tune-up. I love that, a tune-up. yes, I think of my therapist as a part of my business care team right. We wouldn’t have a business without a lawyer or a CPA and just like we should not be running our lives without someone who’s qualified to be able to give us the right kind of guidance. Kristine, I know that Ele’s place has also made a lot of changes since the start of this pandemic. Can you talk about Ele’s place and the services you provide and also how you’re continuing to provide those services?

Kristine: So Ele’s place serves grieving children and teens and we do peer to peer support groups. So Monday through Thursday pre-COVID, we would have anywhere from 50 to 60 families in our building and they would the children it would be divided by age and they would be sent to each of their room and then adults either stayed on-site or they went to their own group and we divide our adults by type of death whether it’s a child lost, suicide, or significant other and then for an hour they work together to process the grief. Now fast-forward when we all are on the lockdown how do we reach our families and we quickly made a pivot. Ele’s place does things maybe four to six times a year we call them family nights. So instead of us all separating to our own groups, we do projects as a family. We have in turn each week we reach out to our families and give them a project to do at home. I have an example of one. This is a jar that we made as a family at Ele’s and it’s a jar that we decorated. Things that we’re about and in there we would write memories of my husband and their dad and put them in there. So each week our families are getting a different project that they can work on in addition our bereavement coordinators reach out to them to check in on them. Two weeks ago you know you start off and you quickly want to work with your families and now we’re pivoting even more in starting some zoom sessions of peer to peer support groups. So we’ve run four sessions so far you know working out the kinks and bringing them together. We had someone share with us she didn’t really think she was going to like to do this. I mean let’s face it this is a little hard, but we’re all doing it and she said the moment she sat down and it popped up and she saw her group, it was just like this big sigh because you know that you’re in it together with them. So Ele’s is working really hard we’re taking and I know this won’t surprise you Joyce, double-digit calls every week from new families and right now you can’t find support. It’s difficult to find support and so Ele’s has been able in the Capital Area region area and our three other sites continue to provide this much-needed mental health support. You know parents often call and say how do I tell my children their dad just died? Their mom just died? They just need when you’re in such shock you just need help maybe with the words. So we are still here and you know we are so fortunate our community has supported us. Our services are provided at no cost to our families and you know we are in a big donation gap right now and working to figure that out, but we know and Joyce I know you can speak to this unresolved grief if we do not address it, the long term is very difficult and if we deal with it now we are just helping our little kiddos get find some peace.

Joyce: Absolutely. You do such beautiful work Kristine and yet there are blessings that come with processing grief. I think it carves deep wisdom and empathy into our being and it’s amazing that you use that to help others as well.

Kristine: And I’ve seen it you know and I knew this my husband and I supported Ele’s place 10 years before this all happened. I mean he was a physician and worked in pain management and he said do you realize the people that come in addicted to narcotics that if you dig deep it isn’t a physical problem they’ve been and Joyce I know you can speak to this of the many ways that you try and numb yourself and our goal is not to do that find healthy ways so that they don’t turn to that in it and I often say when I talk to families it’s like taking out a can of Coke. You can shake it up but at some point, it’s going to explode right and at Ele’s you try and let it out slowly and it comes out so you’re not using something to numb yourself later on.

Joyce: Yeah the self-medication with substances is a big issue in our country and seeking mental health treatment can really prevent that. So I’m really passionate about dual diagnosis and it’s a huge issue in our country. Over 12 million people have both a mental health issue and a substance abuse issue and only 50% are receiving treatment. So it’s so important that we and only 8% of those are receiving the right kind of treatment that addresses both. So it’s concerning.

Julie: Joyce are they concerned that those numbers will increase especially after you know given what we’re going through now in this prolonged period of time at home and in seclusion away from our normal life and even as life kind of quote-unquote gets back to normal, it’s far from normal.

Joyce: Definite concerns and people’s financial anxiety is very extreme right now with the unemployment and so I am very concerned about the self-medication of depression and anxiety with alcohol and drugs and we know the opioid epidemic has been horrible. So yeah that’s a big concern and I’m so glad that so many workplaces Julie when we were talking earlier you were talking about how you start your teams meeting every week checking in about mental health and I think that’s another silver lining is that so many workplaces are now addressing this. I’ve been invited to do a lot of webinars and some for the technology groups and some industries that maybe didn’t previously talk as much about mental health and I love that people are realizing that that’s an important part of caring for their staff is making sure that they have awareness and there are great programs like mental health first aid that can help teach people how to have those conversations in the workplace.

Julie: I want to kind of stay along those lines Joyce because you know we’re also talking as businesses start to reopen, as people to return to the office, I think there’s maybe this false sense of okay like we’re getting back to life as usual, but obviously I mean as both of you have been talking about this is not just a short-term impact on our mental health. We’re looking at long-term and the impact is far from over. There are probably heightened anxieties as people actually venture back out into the real world outside of their homes. Joyce can you talk about some of the symptoms of stress and anxiety some of the things that you’ve been talking about that we may not always watch for?

Joyce: I think you know we’re all familiar with physical signs and symptoms of stress like headaches or stomachaches or the sleep issues we’ve discussed or emotional issues like sadness or anger or irritability, but we also have cognitive symptoms of stress and I think those are easy to forget about. So difficulty making decisions, distractibility, kind of feeling like you’re in brain fog, and also a distortion of time. I think working from home and not having a separation between work and home every day has felt like the day before and our time boundaries are not in the way that they usually are. We don’t have the same structure in place. So it can be really disorienting about how much time has passed and I think people’s productivity has really declined as well and so it’s going to be a process going back to work and I think people have different levels of fear and you know some people may be very afraid to leave their homes and may have pre-existing health conditions and may fear for their health and safety. Whereas others may feel very happy and relieved to be leaving home and I worry about people kind of judging each other on either end of the spectrum. When we need to recognize that we’re all having our own unique responses to this and operating with the information that we have at the time and the best way that we can.

Julie: Such a great point. We tend to as humans compare and we also tend to judge. I was telling both of you before we went live that I found myself doing that and just thinking you know we make these assumptions about why people are doing what they’re doing and someone gave me the great example of a mother who had a child, a toddler, at the grocery store with her and being confronted and well you know how do you know it’s not a single mom who has no other choice or I mean so just some of these things some of these thoughts that we have especially with social media and the time we spend scrolling through. Kristine, you had mentioned that it tends to be a highlights reel and right now maybe those highlights feel a little false or maybe we’re not seeing as many highlights as we’re used to but just being careful not to make those judgments. We have a really great question that I want to ask here from Cindy about workplace mental health, falls right in line with what you were just talking about Joyce, she’s asking what are some good tools for keeping your team motivated and I’ll add to that too you were talking about some people might be afraid to leave the home or have some heightened anxiety, what are some good self-tools to really help ourselves as we kind of enter this next phase?

Joyce: Well I think in terms of keeping your team motivated, I love what you’re doing Julie and creating a space for mental health. I know a lot of workplaces are having mindfulness practices in the workplace so kicking off a meeting with a meditation or a moment of reflection, deep breathing, any mindfulness practice is a great way to reduce stress and kind of reboot the mind-body and spirit and get you synched up to go back to work. I think having workplace wellness seminars to give people practical tools for dealing with stress for improving their communication and conflict resolution for creating a better work-life balance that’s a way to be of support to your team and you know making sure that they’re having you know some time for fun and connection. I know even virtually some people have done fun work meetings like dressing up in costume or having a plank contest. So making sure that you’re also doing things just to laugh and connect as a group and then in terms of self-care and what you can do I mean just really prioritizing your health and well-being. I loved what Kristine said about exercise is so important and getting outside making sure you’re promoting your sleep. That you’re dialing down your expectations and cutting yourself some slack at this time and recognizing this is a difficult time and you’re not going to be performing at your best and that’s okay and reaching out for lots of support.

Kristine: And making sure to set boundaries, I would add to that. You know it’s when you work from home you could continue to work all day, but at some point, you have to step away and say my day is done and shut the computer. We all know you could continue to do this but at some point, you’re going to become exhausted. So set some boundaries and make sure and be friends with them and I’ve talked over and over your brain, your heart, and your mind. Make sure you’re getting the physical activity you know be kind to your heart, be gentle, and learn something new every day. That I think is going to help just keep us motivated and fresh.

Julie: I love that reminder Kristine about setting healthy boundaries because I know that I am definitely guilty of that especially like you said when we’re working from home and I mean we have our emails on our phones we get a text I mean all these messages coming in even now and just when five o’clock rolls around the phone and laptop are still here so such an important reminder.

Kristine: It’s absolutely essential to set some boundaries. I think and I learned that obviously when my husband died, I learned after a while after the in the numbness is boundaries are really important and I’m going to be I mean I talked to my staff about this you’re going to be more productive if you set some boundaries. It feels like wait a minute I’m not doing stuff, but if you look at the long term, no you’re actually taking care of yourself which in turn helps your overall sense of well-being.

Joyce: And it helps you take care of others. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we become exhausted depleted and resentful and maybe even not physically healthy and so it’s imperative. I think sometimes we think self-care is selfish, but it’s like the oxygen mask analogy on the airplane you have to take care of yourself first. I know I tell my family I’m like okay I’m having alone time, I’m going in my room no one knocks on the door, no one speaks to me, I’m taking a bath, I’m going to read a book, I’m going to watch a fluffy show and see you tomorrow.

Kristine: Well and Joyce you brought that up and I say that all the time. That airport analogy, the doors shut and they go through their spiel you must put your oxygen mask on first before you can help others. We’re not used to doing that but it is so imperative especially right now. You can help others if you do that first. It’s not being selfish.

Julie: I love that. It’s so important especially now and Joyce I was laughing as you were talking about that self-care a moment because my niece when she used to say to her younger brother Xander leave me alone I just need some me-time right now and we would laugh, but I said to my sister you must be really good at self-care for your daughter to be picking up on that and I think we all need to do right now and that me-time might be something as simple as taking a couple hours away, taking a day away, and something that I tell my team hey we’re not going to be operating at our best we’re going to try, we’re going to operate as you know much as we can at our capacity, but if you need to take time away, if you need you know the time for mental health, that’s just as important right now as getting our work done. We’ve been very fortunate to continue working this entire time and we’re all very grateful for that, but I also recognize that you know we have people on our team who are working with children at home or who are you know dealing with COVID illnesses or a death in their family and you know there’s just there’s time for work and there’s time to just be true to who you are and certainly now is time for all of us to be able to focus on what we need as humans and not just you know trying to be the most productive you know successful human beings we can be. Kristine you even said just making it through a day. We’ve got a good track record going and I really love that thought. I’d like to ask both of you any final thoughts as we wrap up here and I’ll open it up to our audience if you have any final questions before we go we’ve really loved having you ask your questions and be a part of the conversation. Kristine I’m going to start with you any final thoughts maybe especially focusing on children and teens at this time?

Kristine: Grief is messy and we’re all grieving. There is collective grief and I really like one of the projects that we do at Ele’s place it’s called the emotion ocean and I believe we’re all experiencing it and because grief comes in waves and it may tickle your toes, it may hit you at your knees, or it may be a tsunami, and our kids are really feeling this right now, but what’s on your life raft. So they make they take little sticks little popsicle sticks and they make a life raft and I think we all need to remember that our kiddos if they are lashing out just remember they’ve got a range of emotions and you may know that something you just said didn’t realize it caused a little bit of a tsunami inside them. Just to be really kind, know to remind our kids okay what’s on your life raft? What can you do to help right now? Because we have just such an arrange of emotions that you can be really happy at one moment and then you’re really sad and that’s okay because I’ll go back to all feelings are okay and we need to remember it’s okay to be sad.

Joyce: Yeah I would add to that, I love what you said about feeling that this is really a time to wrap ourselves and our everyone else with compassion and really extend ourselves a lot of self-compassion and empathy to others. This is not a time for judgment or feelings of shame or inadequacy. All that we’re experiencing right now is perfectly normal and help is available. So you know reaching out to support your friends your loved ones your family being specific about it. I always recommend people to think about if you were a cellphone what would your battery be at and you know I asked my Northwestern students that and a lot of them were under 10% and it’s that’s not good, we don’t get the little red alert. So we need to re-energize ourselves with that self-care and recharge our own battery so that we can stay healthy and well for ourselves and our loved ones. So I really appreciated this conversation today, Julie. Thank you so much for inviting Kristine and me. This has been an amazing discussion.

Kristine: Amazing thank you.

Julie: Yeah this has been incredible. I definitely got I filled my cup on my therapy for today for the moment anyway. I’ll you know I really appreciate you both taking the time and sharing your expertise this is such an important conversation for us to continue having even as we continue to inch forward into recovery and we look at what comes next during all of this. So thank you both. I will also make sure to share your contact information in the comments on this post so for those of you watching if you’d like to reach out to Joyce Marter or to Kristine at Ele’s place please feel free to do so and you’ll be in great hands with both of them. So ladies thank you so much.

Joyce and Kristine: Thank you.

Julie: Okay so our conversation is going to continue tomorrow in our Expert Connexions series as I mentioned we are going to have live roundtable interviews all week long at 11 o’clock Eastern each day. Tomorrow Wednesday is going to be we’re going to focus on marketing and business development and sales. Obviously our role of business development has changed completely thanks to COVID and so we’re going to be talking about some of the tactics that you can take as we shift gears in the business world. So join us tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. our guests will be Shari Pash who is a Membership and Growth Strategist and Stephanie Barnhill from mConnexions, she’s an Operations Consultant. Thank you so much and we will see you tomorrow morning.



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