The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption and stress for everyone. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming but completely normal reactions to challenging situations that involve danger and uncertainty. Coping with stress can help students and early career professionals manage during these times.
This is a reminder that each and every one of you are GREAT so remember to engage in G.R.E.A.T practices to help manage feelings of stress and being overwhelmed:
G. Be Grateful
R. Practice Relaxation
E. Engage in Exercise
A. Acknowledge your feelings
T. Track Thoughts and challenge them
The theme for the 2020 Early Career Professionals and Students SIG lunch was resilience. Here is a note from one of our featured speakers:
“Trust that the challenges are there to teach you something and help you grow. Little did I know that we were all about to face this current challenge. I am wondering what you are learning about yourself and your life through this? I am learning that peace is my strength. Every day I meditate to find a few minutes of peace and bring that into my day. When there are spaces in my day that are quiet, I pause to soak up a bit more peace. This has allowed me to be present for my family and my clients in a way that isn't rushed and isn't stressed (rushed and stressed had become a way I experienced my days prior to this quarantine). I hope you are finding small but significant ways that this time has changed you. May we carry this new learning with us, even after this challenge has passed” ~Kimberly Morrow, LCSW
Listed below are a few strategies to help promote resilience during these tough times:
1. Change your expectations of daily productivity and accept that this is your norm right now. Acknowledge you have different demands at home vs. in the lab (family, kids, self-care.,etc.).
2. Limit comparisons to labmates, colleagues, and peers who seem to be working efficiently and finishing papers, brainstorming new ideas, and/or developing research findings. Remember that everyone may have very different circumstances at home right now.
3. Focus on what IS in your control. We don’t know when we will return to the lab, classroom, clinic, etc. and therefore we need to attend to what we do have control over. Create deadlines for yourself to work on papers, plan classes for the semester/summer, organize data, and/or complete analyses. Again, always go back to number 1- your demands may be different now, and that’s okay!
4. Acknowledge and validate your thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to your own physical and mental fatigue. There is no right or wrong way to feel during these challenging times.
5. Engage in mini breaks throughout the day which can help with productivity (e.g. watch a funny show, take a walk, engage on social media, call a loved one, just take a minute to detach from the pressures of work). Giving yourself a break can help with productivity and improve mental health.
6. Use relaxation strategies to help reduce your anxiety throughout the day (e.g., deep breathing, visualization, body scanning, meditation).
7. Maintain a regular schedule/routine during the work week. This can help with your productivity and managing your time more efficiently. This schedule may take many forms and may be a shared schedule with a partner or a schedule balancing child/elder care and work.
8. Ask for help! We may feel that we are expected to solve our own problems and figure things out, but these are unchartered waters for everyone. Ask for support when needed whether it be extra time on a project/paper, support from a colleague, tips for your online teaching, or reaching out for professional help from a therapist.
About the Authors
Krystal M. Lewis, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health and has a small private practice in Chevy Chase, MD. She provides clinical services to youth and specializes in pediatric anxiety. Her individual research has focused on nighttime fears in children and the role of self-efficacy and individual factors in treatment outcome for youth with anxiety. Currently, she is co-chair of the ADAA's Child and Adolescent Anxiety SIG and the Early Career Professionals and Students SIG. Dr. Lewis has been an active member of ADAA since 2008.
Dr. Ashley Clausen, Ph.D. is a Staff Clinical Health Psychologist at the Kansas City VA Medical Center. She completed her doctoral training at the University of Tulsa and Laureate Institute for Brain Research with an emphasis in neuropsychology and neuroimaging. Dr. Clausen completed her clinical residency at the Durham VA Health Care System and her post-doctoral fellowship at the VA VISN 6 Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center and Duke University Brain Imaging and Analysis Center. Dr. Clausen’s research has primarily focused on the neurobiology, brain function and treatment of PTSD in trauma exposed populations. Dr. Clausen has been a member of ADAA since 2012 and was a CDLP – Basic Neuroscience Track recipient in 2017. She served as the co-vice chair of the Early Career SIG in 2018 and is presently servicing as the co-chair. She is looking forward to continued engagement in the ADAA community!
Alex Bettis, PhD, is a second-year postdoctoral fellow in the Child Mental Health T32 program at Brown Medical School, and she will be starting a new position this fall as an Assistant Professor in the Psychiatry department at Vanderbilt Medical School. Alex received her PhD from Vanderbilt University in 2018, and she completed her predoctoral clinical internship at UCLA Semel Institute in the general child track. Her clinical and research interests are in the treatment and prevention of internalizing disorders and suicidality in adolescents. Alex has been a member of ADAA for several years, including attending the conference as a part of the Ailes Muskin Career Development Leadership Program in 2019.
Dr. Amanda Baker is a research and clinical psychologist and Clinical Director at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders in the Psychiatry Department at Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School where she has worked since 2013. Dr. Baker received her Ph.D. from Boston University in 2013 and completed her pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Baker is an active member of Anxiety and Depression Association of America where she is vice-chair of the Early Career Special Interest Group. Dr. Baker's clinical and research interests focus on the development, validation, and dissemination of empirically based psychosocial treatments for anxiety and related disorders. She has a current NARSAD Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Foundation examining the use of ecological momentary assessment and wearable psychophysiological assessment to develop intra-individual networks of panic disorder and assess change in CBT.