Coping in the coronavirus world.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Illustrate illness storm.

Coronavirus storm.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The coronavirus is changing the way we live our lives.

In my last post, I wrote about the macro issues, the big things we as a society need to grapple with as the coronavirus storm rages, people die, and our healthcare system strains to the breaking point. Today I wanted to share with you some of the micro issues, the challenges I faced in my own life, home, and relationships, as I try to cope with this changing situation. As you read this, please remember I am an old guy, born shortly after World War II and now in my seventies. Keeping up with new technology, changes in fashion, and an ever-evolving world has been a struggle for me even before the coronavirus. The changes now feel like a merry-go-round that has started to accelerate out of control.

What are my significant personal challenges?

Over the last two months, my life has changed more than I could ever imagine. I suspect it has for every one of you who is reading this blog. Now it a good time to share with all of you some of the changes I’ve been experiencing in my life and some thoughts for what the future holds.

Many counselors and therapists are reluctant to share about themselves. As my students, and probably most of you readers realize, I feel like I need to be more open and honest about my experiences. Here are a few of my experiences and observations on the way the coronavirus has changed my life.

Sheltering in place has changed everything.

I thought I had my schedule all worked out. Each week I have been spending part of one day at a local nonprofit doing clinical supervision. I had it down to a routine. Show up, run the group, sign the forms, and then go home. Because of the shelter in place order, the trainees and interns have had to learn to do therapy via telehealth. I’ve had to learn a whole new technology to do their supervision remotely. What had been a simple routine procedure has had a sharp learning curve.

Beyond the technical parts, every one of those therapists in training is also a person. It’s hard to think about your client when your life is in turmoil. The ever-present thought that by spending time in a small consulting room with the client, you’re putting your life in danger, must be reckoned with. Part of each training session now is devoted to having the therapist check-in and see how they are coping with the ominous threat of the coronavirus looming over them and their families.

Despite all the difficulties in shifting to an online way of life, I think the shelter in place was an enormously wise decision. I live in California, and we implemented the stay at home protocol early on. I also live in the Central Valley, a mostly rural and less densely populated area. Early action and sparse population have resulted in extremely low infection rates and even lower death rates. I have every reason to think the virus will get here eventually, but the slow spread has so far avoided overtaxing our medical system.

Shifting from teaching in-person classes to online classes has been traumatic.

I’ve been teaching classes at two different local colleges for over 12 years now. I had my system in place. I have created PowerPoints, quizzes, and tests; all the materials I need to run a class. Suddenly there were no in-person classes. The classes have all moved online. Fortunately, I’d taken a class and how to teach online courses back in the summer of 2016. My efforts to create videos for the counselorssoapbox YouTube Channel has turned out to be a significant blessing.

While it’s been a frantic pace of the last few weeks, I knew how to convert my lectures to videos and upload them to YouTube so that my students can watch them anytime they want from the relative safety of their home.

If only the transition had been that easy. This semester I’m teaching three separate classes. One is a 16-week long semester class. Another is an eight week, twice a week class. While the third class was a hybrid part in-class part online format, all three have a different start, midterm, and end date. Beyond that, the three classes are being conducted on two separate learning platforms. Over a couple of weeks, I’ve had to become considerably more familiar with both Moodle and Canvas.

Over the years, I’d accumulated quite a test bank of questions. It was easy to assort the questions, print out a copy, and make as many copies as needed for class. The process of turning these into online quizzes and tests turned out to be a whole lot more complicated.

Working from home requires confronting my age.

I’ve been retired from a full-time job for over two years now. Whenever I must enter my birthdate on anything, I am forced to recognize that I’m getting older. Despite having retired, I’ve been doing more part-time work and staying incredibly busy. Keeping busy and active, I suppose, is my way of avoiding admitting I’m not as young as I used to be.

Then, when I got the email from the college saying that anyone over a certain age was not to come on campus and I realized I was quite a few years past that age, I’ve been forced to admit to myself I’m now in that high risk older adult category. Furthermore, whatever I may think about taking risks with my own life, I have had to realize that I can’t take the risk of contracting something and bringing it home to others who are at an even higher risk.

I’ve had to transition my therapy clients to distance counseling.

A little over two months ago, I had never even considered using the technologies that today I use every day. I’ve had to learn to use Zoom, FaceTime, and several other online tools. Not only do I have to learn new technology, but I’ve also had to develop some new skills to do remote distance counseling. I remind myself that little over two years ago; I had to have one of my interns teach me how to answer a text message. And today I’m making videos and discussing them with people via Zoom, the process of technological change looks less like a gradual uphill climb and more like scaling a sheer vertical cliff.

Working from home has been exhausting.

When I first considered teaching an online class, I thought it would make my life so much easier. The amount of work that it has taken to prepare the curriculum and upload it to the various platforms has left me exhausted. Stress can be very tiring, even when it motivates you to produce something positive.

Sheltering in place increases isolation.

One of the things I loved about my busy mix of part-time jobs was that it got me out of the house and kept me socializing with a wide variety of friends, students, interns, and clients. I’ve come to feel that the coronavirus has made me a prisoner in my own home office.

One of my colleagues and I were in the graduate program together all those years ago and have made it a habit to keep in touch. We try to get together every month or two for lunch just to check in with each other. With the coronavirus lurking outside, and the restaurants we would generally eat at closed, that monthly lunch together isn’t likely to happen again for a long time.

This last week we had to improvise our monthly get together. We sat talking together over FaceTime while I ate my lunch. I suppose that, for me, is one of the visible aspects of this anxiety-producing situation. One after another, I have found ways to adapt. I continue to teach, albeit online. I still see clients via distance counseling technology. And while my physical contact with other humans has been extremely limited, we’ve created ways to stay in touch with those people who are most important to us.

That’s my story of adapting to the coronavirus threat.

While my life is different now, I’m slowly adapting to this new form of existence. Gradually I’m getting back to my writing. I’ve developed a whole new set of skills. Somehow, no matter what happens, we humans find a way to adapt.

How are you dealing with the changes the coronavirus forced upon you?

Please share a comment below or send me one through the contact me page. If you use the contact me form, please let me know if it’s okay for me to share your comment here on the blog. Take care of yourself and do everything you can to protect yourself and those who are close to you.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

How has the coronavirus affected you?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Illustrate illness storm.

Coronavirus storm.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Has the coronavirus changed your life?

When I think about the coronavirus, the picture that comes to my mind is a giant storm, like a hurricane, moving slowly towards us all. I sat down yesterday to write a post about how the coronavirus had altered my life. I live in California, and because of our early sheltering in place orders, many of us got into our safe places before the storm hit. When you’re in that safe place, it’s easy to forget the magnitude of the hurricane that is still coming your way.

It was easy for me to rattle off a list of ways in which the winds of change have altered my life. It’s been stressful, but somehow, I’ve been coping. It would be easy to feel overwhelmed by all that’s happened.

And then I turned on the news.

I watched what’s happening around the world. We could see pictures of the coronavirus storm coming ashore in New York City. The casualties are mounting. It would be reassuring if we could find something different about those people who have died. When the news told us that it was only very old people, people with underlying health problems, people locked away in nursing homes, I could fool myself, believe that I’m healthy and active, I’m at low risk. But now we see that healthy people, strong people, first responders, doctors, and nurses – the coronavirus is getting them now.

Just because the hurricane came ashore a few miles down the road doesn’t mean you’re safe. Sometimes infections, like hurricanes, pass by and leave people unscathed. But this storm doesn’t appear to be losing strength. It seems to be standing in place, growing in intensity.

You can’t start recovery when the storm is still raging.

I don’t think that at this point, anyone can tell us with any accuracy how long the coronavirus will ravage our country. We know for a certainty that more people are going to die. But what we don’t know yet is whether our safe places, our hospitals, and homes can withstand the epidemic. Our medical system has been seriously overloaded, and the strain is showing. There are not enough doctors and nurses for those people with insurance coverage, and certainly not enough capacity for those who are uninsured.

For a long time, we have blamed those people who were homeless or unemployed, and as a result, didn’t have medical coverage, for their own suffering. For the last 50 years or better, we had a common myth that if you wanted a job, you could find one. The popular belief was that if the government threw enough money into the storm, businesses would thrive, and anyone who wanted to work would be safe. There aren’t many people alive now who lived through the Great Depression when able-bodied people couldn’t find work. The coronavirus storm calls into question many of our fundamental beliefs.

So, what do I think is ahead?

I think there are going to be some dark, rainy nights ahead. More people will get sick, and more will die. The worst of the coronavirus storm has not reached us. Our medical system will be battered, and in some places, will break. We may repair the system, or we may leave it the way it used to be where some people get treatment, and others don’t. That means accepting that the homeless and unemployed will continue to be health risks to those with jobs.

I don’t expect to live long enough to see our system return to the way it was before this storm. Some businesses, many small businesses, even some large corporations, won’t weather the storm no matter how much bailout money they get. But other businesses and jobs will spring up to take their place.

We will recover. Granted, there will be scars from the trauma and the people we have lost. Somehow humans go on. As a result of our experiences, people will develop some new skills. I think there will be a major expansion in online education and working from home, as people adapt to this new way of being.

I’m also quite confident that as a result of the stay at home orders, nine months or a year from now, there are going to be a lot of babies born who will only know about the coronavirus from what their parents tell them. The question in my mind is, will the world those children inherit be a better one as a result of the lessons we’ve learned, or will they have to repeat the same experiences this generation has?

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Coronavirus storm.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Service.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Service

Service.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.

We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked, and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

― Mother Teresa

“Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others…By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.”

― Gordon B. Hinckley

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

― Carl Gustav Jung

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Feelings fill you up.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Angry child

What is he feeling?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some feelings expand like blowing up a balloon.

Remember the old saying “nature abhors a vacuum?” This is especially true when it comes to feelings. Emotions and feelings are an essential part of human nature. Somewhere along the line, feelings got a bad rap. Some people think the way to deal with feelings is to stuff them down inside and pretend they don’t exist. Other people believe whatever they feel needs to be released before they explode. They justify dumping their feelings all over others by saying venting feelings is healthy.

It’s essential to learn to manage feelings.

Learning to manage feelings is a three-part process. First, you need to learn to recognize that you are feeling something. Next, you will need to determine what this feeling is. Lastly, you’ll need to decide what you want to do with it.

What you don’t want to do is dismiss positive feelings as unimportant and hold onto the negative feelings, the anger the fear and the resentment, as you watch them grow.

Have you ever noticed that whenever you feel intensifies when you hold onto that feeling? Going over that feeling repeatedly, a process called rumination, causes it to take root and grow.

Anger expands rapidly.

Have you ever tried to simply sit with your anger? You will notice the longer you sit holding that anger, the larger it becomes. Anger is a high-pressure emotion. It can quickly take over all the space in a human being. Hold onto a little irritation, long enough, and will become chronically filled with rage. Learning to de-escalate your anger is an important skill.

Negative emotions make you heavy and bloated.

Just like some food can upset your stomach, negative emotions, anger, fears, resentments, can leave you feeling tired and drained of energy. It is best to consume these feelings in minimal quantities. Better yet, for good health, avoid putting these feelings into your system in the first place. When you can’t avoid negative emotions, try taking some positive feelings to settle your stomach.

Gratitude is a satisfying feeling.

If you consume a little gratitude each day, you will find your life becomes more satisfying. Like a desert, there is always room for a bit of gratefulness. No matter how happy you feel, you will find there is still room for a little more gratitude.

Some feelings are like cut flowers.

Some feelings will never fill you up. Peak excitement feelings like alcohol, drugs, and sex, frequently are confused with happiness. All these feelings increase the amount of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter chemical, in the brain – temporarily. The problem with trying to fill up on peak experience feelings is that they fade very quickly. You can’t create a beautiful garden by planting cut flowers. An occasional bouquet of flowers in the house can be lovely. But if you try to fill your life with only cut flowers, it quickly comes to look and smell like a funeral parlor. Once people feel these sharp feelings, the bloom fades very quickly. Requiring them to continually hunt for more peak experience feelings to fill their emptiness.

Some feelings are timid and need room to grow.

Some of the most satisfying feelings, contentment, serenity, and satisfaction, grow slowly and are quickly crowded out by the more aggressive, faster-growing feelings. If you spend time cultivating these shy, slow-growing feelings, they will eventually fill your life with joy.

What feelings are you cultivating?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track, and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Sincerity

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Sincerity.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“You can be sincere and still be stupid.”

― Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.”

― Mark Twain

“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.”

― Confucius, The Analects

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Stop being overwhelmed and get something done.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Overwhelmed.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you feel overwhelmed and unproductive?

Has your life spun out of control? Are you hectic busy, but it feels like you never get anything done? With more options than ever before for things to do, everyone seems to be working harder and accomplishing less. Sometimes it looks like there isn’t enough time to stop and breathe. If you’re working harder but achieving less, here are some techniques to get your life under control and start accomplishing things.

To accomplish more focus on one task at a time.

The idea that people can multitask has turned out to be one of the dead-end streets on the road to productivity. It’s possible to learn to do two tasks simultaneously, but most people who try to multitask, spend so much of their day switching back-and-forth that they never really accomplish anything. Focus on one task you need to work on and allocate some time to doing it. When that time has been used on that task, close it up and put it to the side, take a break, and then move on to the next project. When you’re doing something, really do that activity. Be present with whatever it is you’re doing.

Allocate enough time for the things you are planning to do.

An overscheduled life leads to lots of things undone, half done, or never completed. People who overscheduled are frequently chronically late. Be realistic about how much time will actually be required for each task. If a job is too big to do in the available time, break that task into smaller segments, and work on them one at a time. This will give you the feeling of accomplishment in small doses and keep you moving toward your goal.

Improve focus by cutting off the distractions.

Whatever the task at hand, even if that task is having fun, give it your full attention. Life often intrudes on our plans, but the more you can do to insulate yourself from those distractions, the better. Try to have a place where people won’t interrupt you as you work on your task. Turn off the Internet apps, ignore the text messages, and entirely focus on the project you’re working on. A short period when you’re fully present can accomplish more than all day long when you’re distracted.

Win more by psyching yourself up.

Your ability to do something is significantly influenced by the attitude you take toward it. If you approach things as stressful, they will stress you out. People with an attitude called positive stress mindset approach new situations as opportunities. People with a negative stress mindset approach new situations as stressful.

Top performing athletes do not become stressed out because of the pressure of the big game; they see it as their opportunity to accomplish something. With every goal you’re working towards, look for the possibilities, not the stress.

Use positive self-talk to move forward.

People tell themselves they can’t, are telling the truth, and they rarely do. Tell yourself you can, and you’re a lot farther along the path. Our brains tend to believe the things we tell ourselves repeatedly. Avoid negative self-talk and handicapping. Don’t start making excuses for your failure before you’ve even started your project. You’ll get a lot more accomplished by being your own cheerleader then by letting your inner critic run the show.

Don’t tell yourself that this is impossible, or you can’t do it. Saying you can’t usually means you don’t want to. Get honest with yourself. Either you want to do it, or you don’t. If you do, then tell yourself you will get this done one way or another.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

In this modern era, there are more movies to watch than there is lifetime to watch them. More new books are published every day than any one person could possibly read. Social media has become a maze that never ends. Trying frantically to stay current in any of these areas is overwhelming. Learn to limit yourself to consuming each of these diversions in moderation. Making more social media posts each day doesn’t make you more successful unless that’s your job, and they are paying you for posting. Avoid trying to do things only because all these distractions are there crying for your attention.

Learn to say no to make time for the yeses.

One of the largest sources of that overwhelmed feeling is taking on tasks that fill up your day, which you definitely don’t want to do. People who are overwhelmed often set their automatic response to requests as “yes, I’ll do that.” Frequently after they’ve said yes and had time to think about it, they wish they didn’t have to do what they just committed to. When approached to do things, learn to say no to the things you don’t want to do. When you’re unsure about where you’ll find the time to do something, tell people you’ll have to think about it and get back to them. A primary key to productivity is the things you cut out of your schedule in order to leave room for the important items.

Break the task into bite-size pieces.

Most great accomplishments aren’t something you can easily sit down and do it a few minutes. People who say they will write their book when they have the time seldom do. Books get written one page, one paragraph, at a time. For the big tasks, break them down into smaller components. Make sure you continue to allocate some dedicated time each day to work on that project.

Try adopting some of these methods and practicing them every day until they become habits and then enjoy your new, more productive life.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking, and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders, see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter.

Cautious

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Cautious.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“How prone to doubt, how cautious are the wise!”

― Homer

“The policy of being too cautious is the greatest risk of all.”

― Jawaharlal Nehru

“By striving to do the impossible, man has always achieved what is possible. Those who have cautiously done no more than they believed possible have never taken a single step forward.”

― Mikhail Bakunin

“The cautious seldom err.”

― Confucius

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration