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What can you do during this Pandemic

Laurie Groh, MS, LPC, SAS interviews Garrett Wilk  MS, LPC, SAC of Shoreside Therapy about symptoms of anxiety and specifically how social anxiety can be tricky to deal with during social distancing due to the pandemic.

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Video Transcript

Laurie: OK, it's so welcome, everyone, to our first ever live Q&A. Just so happy and excited to do it. So my main goal today is to have more than just my mom watching the same thing for you?

Garrett: For me, more than my mom, my wife. I think I do. I think I get two views right there.

Laurie: There we go. We got it. All right. So my name is Laurie Groh. For those of you that don't know me, Konerko Shoreside Therapies, also a therapist there. And we're talking today with Garrett Wilcke. And we want to talk a little bit about anxiety. Probably not going to get to OCD today. We're talking about anxiety and covid-19 and going through a couple of questions today. We talked a little bit about this today and we thought we would shorten it up. So we'll probably just go through a few questions and hopefully do this again in a week or two.

Garrett: Yeah, we're up for it.

Laurie: Yeah. Yeah. All right. So before we get started, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself, maybe in a couple of sentences, just a little bit about you.

Garrett: Yeah, so I just started at Shoreside Therapies, I so far love it, I'm working to build up the folks. I'm accepting new patients right now, but I worked at Rogers for the last five years and did some case management before that. But while at Rogers, you know, for the last two and a half years, I specialize in OCD and anxiety disorder. So like social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder. And then prior to that, I had worked on inpatient and I also worked treating mood disorders and in treating mood disorders, also treated a lot of personality disorders. So those are sort of my areas of specialty. But I would say that anxiety is probably the big specialty. And I feel like that was one reason to wonder to the Q&A is to try to put something out there for people who are struggling with covid and maybe heightened anxiety and a period of a lot of uncertainty. And like Laurie said earlier, we were talking like a half an hour ago and realized, hey, neither of us watches anything that's a half hour, but why would we do a half hour thing?

Garrett: So we decide to shorten it. And if people really like it, we want to do more of them and we're open to feedback for what's helpful.

Laurie: So, yeah, and so we will be accepting questions via Facebook. And if afterwards you can always look at this video, you can still share it with other people. If there's questions afterwards, you can still add it in the comments and then next time we'll answer some more.

Garrett: Feel free to reach out with questions or if you're saying like, hey, maybe I want to do therapy with Garrett. Hey, do you treat this sort of thing or is this something that would be helpful to work on in therapy? You know, that's something that people can easily reach out to me with. And I can either direct you toward the right place or hopefully I'd be able to help you with it.

Laurie: So, yeah, that sounds good. All right. So obviously, anxiety is at the forefront right now. A lot of uncertainty, a lot of confusion, you know, especially with things opening up right now. A lot of business is opening up. A lot of people are starting to engage a little bit more with with people around them. And I guess one of the questions that comes up a lot is how do people handle anxiety with this new change of the opening up and sort of leaving the house? I mean, that's been a couple of weeks now where people are sort of given the OK to leave. So why don't you tell us a little bit about that?

Garrett: Yeah, so so this has been coming up with my patients quite a bit. And what we've what I'm really focused on is it's natural to feel anxiety about this. Right. Because, you know, we're being told different things from different sources. So I think one thing I recommend is trying to use like the CDC as your main basis. And to be honest, even though we're doing this on Facebook, I wouldn't get your primary information off of Facebook. So like everything I say, I'm not going to tell you what to do to stay safe during covid go to the CDC for that.

Garrett: But I think I think that the other issue is, is there's some basic anxiety, coping skills that I can teach people know the first one is mental reframing. Right. So so that means sort of taking a situation. And it's easy to say, oh, man, this really sucks. My life is completely disrupted by this. I'm worried about my job and you can focus on those things or you can try to focus on like I mean, how many of us have all said, oh, if I only had more time, then I would do X, Y or Z or on my house or I would have X, Y or Z hobbies, you know, and so refocussing that this is an opportunity. Actually, this is a different opportunity for a lot of things that I haven't gotten to do, or this is an opportunity for me to be really creative with my kids and figure out some fun activities that they've been marked in my Pinterest for how long and I've never gotten to actually do them. Yeah. And along the same thing, I think there's another idea of practicing gratitude for practicing a piece of like, hey, you know what, like so there's some of us that it may almost feel silly to wear a mask because I don't I personally don't know anyone that actually has gotten Covid.

Garrett: But at the same time, I think that's an area just to be really grateful and to say, wow, I know there are over one hundred thousand people out there who died from this and, you know, over a million people that have almost two million people, I think, that have that have actually contracted this. I'm really grateful that this hasn't affected my life. I'm grateful for these unique opportunities that have come up.

Laurie: So it's sort of like that. So with that, I don't mean to cut you off, though. So there's this reframing that would be helpful. So instead of maybe focusing in on, you know, all of the restrictions, instead focusing in on what this might open up. And I know for me and our family, I always dreamed of doing family hikes and just that not happening because there's all these different sports and all this different stuff that we got to put into. And so that's been something I know and that's been really fun and really cool and put him painted rocks out for people and, you know, doing something a little different. Yeah. And making bagels. That was another one of my big things, but I've never done so. I think that is a great idea. I think that's a great idea.

Garrett: Yeah. Yeah. I know for myself, like I enjoy doing woodworking and building a desk for my office actually, which I did not have time to do. And so it's a pretty simple desk thing to too fancy. But yeah, I'm building a desk, my office and I know one of my other friends is learning how to make our daily bread, and that's like the thing that he's been focused on. So those are some good examples. I love the example of going for hikes because I like a hike is something you can do with a pretty low risk level, right? You're outside. You're not going to be close to other people with that idea.

Laurie: Yeah, and I'll put in an order for a new desk as well, if you don't mind. Oh, yeah. Make me one.

Garrett: Yeah. Yeah. Well you can see how the first one goes and decide.

Laurie: Yeah. Yeah. Let's wait, on that

Garrett: Yeah let's wait on the wait until we try this other one.

Garrett: Yeah. It's the last one that I had. Sort of two, and this is like the last one I had to give you. I mean, I have a whole list of other ones I could give you the last I want to keep it kind of simple here is restitory control. So, you know, and I think this is one of the most like portable techniques that people can use. Really, what it is, is this focusing on your breathing and being aware of it, and usually what I have to do is inhale for three, a pause for one, and then exhale for a count of three. There are a ton of other ways to do restitory control. But I mean, that's what I would teach at Rogers for all my OCD anxiety patients. And it is well researched, well documented as being a great way to reduce anxiety. So if you find yourself maybe out and about and feeling anxious about covid, whatever else, take a second, do some respiratory control and then try to reassess, like, OK, is this a situation that really is risky for me or for the people around me? Or maybe I'm actually OK?

Laurie: Yeah, yeah. I like the breathing technique because you take it wherever you go and there's a lot of different ones. So if one of them doesn't quite feel right, I know that one, we're going to have like this longer exhale and you're supposed to count to seven. I always let people know don't you don't have to force it to seven. You don't want to pass out.

Laurie: But finding one that is actually going to work for you. Yeah. Yeah, great idea.

Garrett: And I find I don't know if you use it, Laurie, but I use it every day. I mean, I used it before I did this. I just used some resitory control to reduce my anxiety, to do a face to fly thing. You know, it's something that I use every day.

Laurie: Yeah. Yeah. I did a little movement beforehand and some breathing for sure.

Garrett: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Awesome.

Laurie: All right. Garrett, next question, Will move right along. So this is something another issue that I've noticed a lot with my clients, a lot with friends and family is how to handle a scenario where a friend or family member is doing different precautions than you are or they have different opinions on what they should be doing than you do. Sometimes it's not too much of a difference, but sometimes it's night and day. Somebody that's not doing any sort of precautions versus someone that's very restrictive. How would somebody handle a relationship where that comes up?

Garrett: Yeah, and, you know, that's another one that's been coming up a lot in my practice and just in my personal life where like, for example, we had we had I've had friends who are more or less comfortable with this. And so I think the biggest part about this is you want to accept and validate other people's emotions about this. They're going to feel the way they feel and me trying to tell them that they shouldn't feel the way they feel. I mean, I've never personally seen that work for me to tell them, oh, you should just be less scared. Know that just makes people angry.

Laurie: Right! Yeah.

Garrett: So validate the other person's emotion. And so if you're inviting someone to do something, I think that means probably giving them an option out. So you would be saying like, hey, are you comfortable doing this here? Well, here's who else might be coming.

Garrett: Are you OK with that? And a lot of times it might be also people might ask you, like, are we wearing masks or are we not wearing masks? And I think people have different comfort levels with that. Right. Like for a while there were times where I had friends who maybe were less comfortable because I was working at Rogers for a while, still seeing people in person because that was an essential worker, you know. So it made sense to me that some people maybe weren't comfortable being around me because of that.

Garrett: I think the biggest piece about this is just respecting other people's emotions, and it may feel silly, but and for some people, you know, some people may think, oh, I don't have to wear a mask this whole thing over. But I think for a lot of people, too, though, they're wearing a mask. It's just like a level of respect, like, hey, this makes other people comfortable around me, too. Like maybe I'm not worried. Like I personally, I'm thirty one. I know that probably nothing that is going to happen to me. Like I'm healthy, I'm going to be OK. But then I might worry about being around my parents or other people who are older.

Garrett: So, you know, I think being kind and thoughtful about your responses to other people and trying to accept that I may not know how someone else feels and it may be someone that I'd be totally surprised about.

Laurie: I also have to say, or somebody that you might not realize has some underlying health issues, whether through you were younger and that you might have some somebody could have some judgments upon that, but that they might have to be extra careful during this time. Yeah, right. Respecting other people's viewpoints and really understanding that that doesn't have anything to do with yourself.

Laurie: It has to do with what's going to work for them and not personalize it, you know.

Garrett: Yeah.

Garrett: Yeah. Because I know, I know. I've seen people who are in their car alone wearing masks and gloves and really wearing a lot of protective gear, but I don't really know what's going on for them. Maybe they just had heart surgery or something and they're really afraid because if they catch this, they're probably they're in a whole different world than I am, even if they look to be about my age, you know. Yeah, I think it's valid in that we just don't know what's going on for other people or maybe they're the primary caregiver for somebody, you know, and we throw off these things thinking maybe, maybe I know that that may not be likely, but it's possible.

Garrett: So we try to be thoughtful and kind to other people around us because I think. I think the other part, too, is that we have to accept we don't know what other people are doing. I can go to the grocery store and I don't know if other people are taking precautions, like I'm taking

Laurie: Yeah.

Garrett: For someone who's at higher risk or knows someone who is at higher risk, I think just trying to accept like there's probably a reason they're acting the way they're acting. And I'm just going to assume that it's a good reason.

Laurie: Yeah, yeah. And that goes that goes back to that respect of respect and trusting other people.

Laurie: You know, I think that part's important one.

Garrett: And I think if you're someone who is more anxious or you have an underlying condition or you're just anxious for the sake of I really don't want to spread this or I really can't get this, you know, I would try to work to accept that part of you. And within reason, you know, it can become I am certainly working with people who their anxiety is maybe too high about it, too, and we're working on that. But I accept that that's your what's your comfort level is. And then you can be assertive about that with other people around you, too, and saying like, hey, you know what, I'd be more comfortable if it were 4 people versus 8 people.

Laurie: Right. Right. Yeah. I think that other piece of being assertive and getting comfortable with standing up for your own safety, I think that that's that's a great skill to have. And it's going to it's going to move across the board as far as not just right now, but learning that skill in everyday life is so important.

Garrett: One hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah.

Laurie: So so, Garrett, we made it to fifteen minutes.

Laurie: We already made fifteen minutes of that. Yeah. Yeah. I could talk two hours. Right. But that's great. Yeah.

Garrett: Keep doing it. So I think we should call it for today and then if people have questions feel free to reach out and, and then I think we might plan to just do another one of these. And if people have questions or something else that you want to be covered, feel free to ask a question and we can do another one of these, or you can call us and set up an appointment, something like that.

Laurie: Yeah, I think that's a great idea. And what we can do is also put down some contact information. Right. Even on this thread, I mean, you can get right on and. Shoreside on Facebook or shoreside website. But just for easy access, we can put your email right down there so people can contact you can contact me and we're happy to answer any questions you might have.

Garrett: Awesome.

Garrett: All right. Well, thanks again, Garratt. Yeah, thanks, Laurie. I appreciate it. Yeah, it's been fun. All right.

Garrett: We'll talk to you later.

Laurie: Bye

Garrett: bye.

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