Finding Radical Acceptance, Strength, and Kindness in our “New Normal”

By Laura Agurkis, MS With everything going on in the world, our lives have been turned upside down, and we have all been asked to adjust to this “new normal.” It comes with immense feelings and emotions that most of us struggle to navigate, find meaning, and gain acceptance around. I, as a licensed clinician, have been working intensely around this dynamic with several of my patients. The one thing we all must remember is that we are not alone. Without question or exception, we have all been asked to make major changes in our day-to-day lives, such as scaling back our spending, working from home, changing our routine, monitoring and teaching our children, etc. All of these changes come with their own specific challenges and added stress that can make it difficult to cope. “Radical acceptance” is a particularly useful skill I teach frequently in my practice, because without acceptance, we often will find ourselves building resentment and having increased frustration around circumstances we cannot control. Radical Acceptance: What is it and why should we use it? Radical acceptance is a skill that is commonly taught when learning “distress tolerance.” At times in our lives we have all been asked to cope with distress (e.g., considerable anxiety, sorrow, pain, etc.), and during such times, it can be difficult to find relief. Furthermore, distress is often unpredictable, and impossible to avoid. This is why we must rely heavily on coping skills to battle feelings of distress. Radical acceptance, specifically, refers to “when you stop fighting reality,

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What is Bipolar Disorder? Facts and Myths Explained.

By: Bonnie Brown, PsyD Mental health is a popular topic at the moment, thanks to stay-at-homeand safer-at-home orders. Plenty of people are having their firstencounters with intentional focus on their own mental health. Whiledepression and anxiety are primarily discussed, there are other mentalhealth issues that may be more common than people think. Bipolardisorder, once known as manic-depressive disorder, is a diagnosis thathas often been thought of as mysterious. If you’ve been diagnosedrecently, or are just generally curious, keep reading. You are not alonein either scenario. Okay so here’s the technical bit… Bipolar disorder is categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manualof Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM 5) as two types of diagnoses.Bipolar I Disorder requires the individual to have experienced a manicepisode. Symptoms of mania must include: elevated or irritable mood forat least one week, and increased energy or activity during this time.The increased energy or activity may include: inflated self-esteem,decreased need for sleep, more talkative than usual or pressure to keeptalking, racing thoughts or ideas, distractibility, increase ingoal-directed activity, and/or involvement in activities that have ahigh potential for painful consequences. A majority of those who haveexperienced a manic episode have also experienced major depressiveepisodes during their lives. A major depressive episode requires five or more of these symptoms thathave been present during a two-week period: depressed mood, decreasedinterest or pleasure in activities, weight fluctuations not attributableto dieting, sleep disturbances, physical agitation or slowing, fatigue,feelings of worthlessness, difficulties concentrating, and/or thoughtsof death or suicide. Bipolar II Disorder consists of experiencing both a hypomanic episodeand major depressive

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Understanding and Coping with the Grief a Global Pandemic Brings

By Courtney Glueck, PhD There is no question that the current pandemic has left us all experiencing challenging emotions – anxiety, fear, sadness, confusion, frustration, anger, etc. And as we continue to wade through this muddy water together the best way we know how, I continue to hear many of my patients repeatedly talking about feelings that can best be described as manifestations of grief. People are grieving the loss of loved ones, jobs and financial security, feelings of safety, comfort, and routine. Milestones are passing people by. Those who looked forward to their proms or graduations for months or years have watched the dates of these events come and go without a fraction of the pomp or circumstance these rites of passage warrant. What’s more, not only are we collectively mourning the loss of these things that are long-gone or have passed us by, but we are also dealing with “anticipatory grief,” or grief associated with feeling as though greater losses are yet to come. Without question, grief can be one of the most challenging human experiences to process and work through. And with so many of us experiencing such raw emotional manifestations of grief right now, it seems more important than ever that we all learn as much as possible about the grieving process and how we can (and will!) make it through. Two Common Theoretical Frameworks for Understanding Grief Perhaps the most commonly cited framework from which to view the grieving process is that which was originally presented by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in the

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Finding Balance in Unsteady Times

By: Rachael Sullivan, PsyD Finding Balance in Unsteady Times As we all attempt to adjust to this “new normal” with no playbook, our mental health is undoubtedly impacted. Collectively, our baseline anxiety levels have risen in the face of uncertainty and forced adaptation. Whether we’ve dealt with anxiety for years prior or are struggling with worrisome thoughts for the first time, we’re all looking for effective ways to cope and find balance. Balance. A small word with incredible meaning. While we have heard before that a sense of balance in our lives is recommended (e.g., “work-life balance”), the COVID-19 pandemic drives home the importance of balance in a way previously unknown. This unique balancing act has multiple components: balanced routine, balanced emotions, balanced perspective, balanced information – just to name a few. Balanced Routine Fifty plus days into our new normal, you likely have had to adapt and find new routines. Balancing our routines does not mean we have to schedule out every hour of the day or strive towards unattainable ideals for what we could be doing with our time. Rather, balance in our routines means doing what we can to fulfill our roles and responsibilities, while also ensuring we are caring for ourselves. Self-care has become quite a “buzz word” over the last few years, but it is more important than ever. Self-care means being intentional about taking time to engage in activities that bring us pleasure and increase our mood, without the notion that we need to “earn” them. Self-care will look different

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We are Here to Support You During the COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive changes to all of our lives. It is normal to have feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression, and confusion during chaotic times. The Metis Center and are clinicians are dedicated to supporting our community throughout this pandemic. To help you and our community through this crisis, the Metis Center’s psychotherapists are available to help with your mental health needs. We are continuing care for all of our current patients, and are also accepting new patients. Our commitment to remaining available to our patients is unwavering. Our physical offices are open and will remain so unless circumstances change. We are also providing comprehensive telehealth online counseling services, as we have done since 2016. We pledge that we will continue to provide care through one or both of these channels to all of our patients who need it. Click here to learn more about our telehealth online therapy services. Appointments are available from 8 AM – 8 PM, Mountain Daylight Time, although there is limited availability of in-person appointments. At our offices, we are ensuring that we clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces multiple times throughout the day, and are providing “sanitizing stations” for patients coming to our office. If you have any symptoms of illness or have been exposed to someone who may be ill, we ask that you not come into the office and instead make an appointment for telehealth therapy. If you are a current patient, you do not need to cancel your current appointment. Just contact the office or your

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How to Cope During Time of High Stress

By: Bonnie Brown, PsyD The world has learned a lot about itself in the past several weeks. We, as individuals, have learned a lot about ourselves in the past several weeks. “Social distancing” and “quarantine” are becoming a normal part of our vocabulary. While these can be scary, and getting lost in the thoughts about what happens next can be enveloping, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. You do not have to go through this alone. You can take steps to minimize the difficulties that lie ahead. Social Interaction Humans are such social beings, and now more than ever we are realizing that concept. A quarantine can mean working from home, not working at all, not going to a favorite restaurant or brewery, skipping that sports practice, not attending that play that you bought tickets for, not going to the park with your kids, skipping the play-dates that gave you some relief, and not attending church. Instead, only leaving the house for essentials (i.e., food, water, medications). That means no social interaction, doesn’t it? Definitely not. It’s incredibly important to maintain as close to the same level of social interaction as you were used to by other means. Options include: Face Time calls, virtual brunches or happy hours, texting friends and family members, watching Netflix “together”, sending emails, sending snail-mail letters, having kids decorate cards to send to others, and maybe even interacting with your neighbors from your back or front lawn. Another option to get connected is the NextDoor website/app that connects

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The Impact of Sleep

By: Bonnie Brown, PsyD As a general rule of thumb, we are told to get about eight hours of sleep per night. That means we should be sleeping about one third of our lives. That’s a large amount of our time, and often far too few people actually reach that number. Does that ever make you wonder how sleep works? What if you don’t get enough? Is it really that important? Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah…I know I need eight hours…I just cannot sleep”. What can you do to get as close to that number as possible? You’re not alone. Actually, two thirds of adults in all the developed nations do not actually obtain the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. There are many reasons human beings sleep, and we’re only recently learning more and more. Research has shown that sleep is important for things such as our memory, ability to learn, make logical decisions, keeping our immune system in check, balancing insulin and glucose, and our cardiovascular system (to name a few). Essentially, sleep is one of the most important and effective things we can do to help keep our brain and body in a healthy state. Most people are familiar with the notion that we have a circadian rhythm of twenty-four hours. What most people don’t know is what else goes into feeling tired and eventually falling (and staying) in a comfortable sleep state. One signal that your brain relies on is body temperature. Your core body temperature peaks in the late afternoon,

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Neurodiversity: High Functioning Autism (Asperger’s Syndrome)

BY: Rachael Sullivan, PsyD Neurodiversity: High-Functioning Autism (AKA Asperger’s Syndrome) Thanks to the ever-evolving science of understanding how our brains work, you may have recently encountered the term “neurodiverse.” While this may sound complicated, the term simply refers to recognizing and respecting brain differences, the same way we would with any other individual difference. Neurodiversity is a way to describe individuals whose brain has certain variations that result in these individuals learning in a different way than individuals who are “neurotypical” do. Neurodiversity often refers to those individuals who have received certain diagnoses, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Specific Learning Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is most important to recognize that we strive to use the term neurodiversity to describe individuals with these diagnoses in order to reinforce that these are brain differences, not deficits. In fact, individuals who are neurodiverse frequently have specific strengths and cognitive abilities that individuals who are neurotypical do not. Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a diagnosis that describes one type of neurodiversity. The word “spectrum” in ASD is a key component of beginning to understand autism – it refers to the vast variations of how ASD presents in any given individual. There is an accurate and important saying about ASD: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” One phrase that is often associated with ASD is “high-functioning,” which refers to an individual who experiences the social and emotional difficulties and stereotyped behaviors or interests that are associated with autism, but does not

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What’s the Deal with Anxiety Disorders?

By Courtney Glueck, PhD It’s that time of the year again. With the year’s end fast approaching and the holiday season in full swing, many people are likely experiencing heightened levels of stress and worry. Arranging holiday travels and gatherings, finding the perfect present, keeping up that workout routine, and meeting end-of-year deadlines are just a few of the things likely to cause excess worry this time of year. For many it happens every year at this time, and so it doesn’t come as a surprise or present excessive concern. We face it, push through, and get back to “normal life” in January. Now, imagine what it would be like to have this level of stress, worry, and pre-occupation characterize your life year-round. For a select group of people who suffer with anxiety disorders, this, unfortunately, is a persistent and daunting reality. Anxiety Disorders: An Overview Anxiety disorders are a broad category of mental disorders that includes many different manifestations, including generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobia, social anxiety, and panic disorder, and together they make up one of the most common forms of mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. Unfortunately, despite their prevalence, many still misunderstand these disorders and struggle to cope themselves and/or support others they know living with these challenges. Debunking Myths about Anxiety Several myths exist around anxiety and anxiety disorders. Below are just a few: 1.  Anxiety isn’t a “real” illness. (While some

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Coronavirus Alert

If you have any symptoms of illness, have had contact with someone who was ill, or may otherwise have been exposed to the coronavirus, please do not come into the office to avoid spreading any infection. If you are ill or otherwise unable to come to the office, we will happily meet with you via tele-health at your appointment time, or we can assist you with rescheduling. Please call the office for assistance at (720) 387-8458 or by email at