with Eb Roberts
With most of the country practicing social-distancing due to Covid-19, you might be feeling more isolated and fearful of the unknown than ever before. Listen as VO Boss Anne Ganguzza interviews Licensed Clinical Mental Health (LCMHC) counselor: Eb Roberts for a discussion on self-care and your mental health during these uncertain times. Eb has over 20 years of clinical experience in treating individuals and couples. Eb received her Master’s in Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Juris Doctorate from Georgia State University.
Take a BOSS break for your soul. We’re all in this together. Stay safe and healthy out there!
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode
Not knowing the end date of crisis can make you feel out of control
When you feel out of control, concentrate on the things in your life that you can control
When we’re feeling so isolated, it helps to remember that the world is going through this with you
Many people want to know “why is this happening?”
Since this is happening to the whole world, it’s an opportunity to learn
Social distancing and working from home can create opportunities to enjoy your family life at a slower pace. Take this time to plan special activities while practicing social distancing. Choose to see this as an opportunity to have time they we may never have again
Having everyone at home might feel like an invasion of privacy. You have to learn how to share the space
Even our animals are having to adjust to us being home all day
Set boundaries, keep a schedule, and make sure everyone is accountable to that schedule
Make sure everyone has their own workspace
Social media is both awful and a blessing
Do what works best for you and your family. Give yourself permission to do whatever feels good, and to create memories
You may want to limit your exposure to social media if it’s going to make you feel deflated
Don’t compare yourself to how others are surviving quarantine
People’s social media life is just a snapshot of their day. We don’t see how many hours it took to get that perfect shot, or that perfect image
It’s ok to give yourself permission to have some fun in the midst of this.
Learn what news applies to you and is applicable to you, and then stop your news consumption there. You can go into information overload
There is a difference between being worried and being anxious. Worry is mild and temporary, and it’s specific in nature. Where is becomes concerning is where is bleeds over into anxiety. Anxiety oftentimes is very vague. It’s not just anxious over contracting this virus, it’s “then what happens.” You can go down the rabbit hole and it’s severe and it controls you
One of the best antidotes for anxiety is to be calm. Use a faith system, or something that anchors you or tethers you to the world, whether this be God, or the Universe at large. Anything that makes you feel that you are not alone
It’s ok to not be ok and reach out for help
Being able to admit that you don’t have control may help you. All you have is love to give to those in your life
The first step of any recovery program is admitting that you’re powerless, and it’s the same with this crisis
Take a breath, a step back, and acknowledge that this is bigger than you and ask someone for help
Anxiety presents itself in a viareity of different ways: lack of sleep, being angry, challenging behavior, walking in place, clenched fists, anger, crying, panic attacks
What helps you may not help others. However, you can offer to help other people, and be there for them. Listen to others, and talk, and encourage them to reach out to someone, which may include a professional.
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
One Eighty Counseling (for those in NC and GA, or to contact Eb for resources)
https://www.betterhelp.com/ (Eb Works on this platform and can be chosen here in NC or GA)
If your employer uses Teladoc for telemental health, that is another option. https://www.teladoc.com/ This is ONLY available through an employer who purchases this as an option however. Eb works on this platform as well for GA and NC.
Many employers have an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) that can also be of great benefit to many people in these trying times.
10 Ways your anxiety might be manifesting
Recorded on ipDTL
Awesome editing by Carl Bahner
>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with a very special guest today, Eb Roberts. Eb is a licensed clinical mental health professional with over 20 years of clinical experience in treating individuals and couples. She received her master’s in counseling from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her juris-doctorate from Georgia State University, and she’s worked with professionals managing depression, substance use and abuse, anxiety, life/work balance stressors, eating disorders and sexual matters. She has a special interest and expertise in treating these issues as well as Asperger’s, couples work, pre-divorce counseling, and career and employment counseling. Eb, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate you spending time with us.
Eb: Thank you, Anne. Thank you for inviting me. I appreciate it.
Anne: So Eb, I want to talk a little bit about the current COVID-19 crisis and how it’s affecting us all on an emotional level. There’s so much fear, and there’s so much uncertainty that is happening out there right now that I’d love to try to get your take on it and get a handle on how we might best deal with all of these crazy emotions that I know must be going through everyone’s mind right now.
Eb: Sure, thank you. That’s a great question, and it’s one that a lot of clients are asking right now, when is this going to end, what is this going to look like. And I say it sort of tongue-in-cheek, but there’s just truth to it, which is none of us have a crystal ball. We really don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know how long this is going to last. And we don’t know the extent that this virus is going to impact this country. This is such a unique time, Anne, in that this is universal. There are very few countries around the globe that are not being impacted by this virus. And you know, knowing that it’s universal, for me, it takes me back to 9/11, and it takes me back to just that feeling in this country. I was pregnant with my first child, asking myself much the same question that I’m asking right now, as he’s about to graduate from high school, which is, what kind of world is this, you know, that I’m about to bring him into? And now it’s like, what kind of world is it he’s about to launch out into? But it’s so universal. We’re all feeling it. So I’m really encouraging clients to just remember that when things feel really out of control, it helps to think about what you can control. Because nothing helps to ground you more than to think about the things that you really do have some control over.
Anne: Well, I think it’s so interesting that you mentioned, it is global, and you just put it in a way I didn’t think about before. While I’m feeling so isolated, state mandates, you know, stay-at-home, that kind of thing, but yet we’re all going through this together, so in a way, that kind of makes me feel at least like I’m not experiencing it alone.
Eb: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, knowing that your neighbor is going through the same thing even if it looks different in their home, but the fact that people in Canada are experiencing this, people in many parts of Mexico are experiencing this, people all over North America, people all over, you know, many parts of Europe – I mean, Europe is being decimated by this virus as we are now seeing. All over Asia. I think I read this morning that the prime minister of India is recommending that no one leave their home for three weeks. That’s significant –
Eb: – that we are just seeing this global response, and it really can create a lot of fear. One thing a lot of clients are asking, you know, is why is this happening? But it’s not even a “why is this happening to me” because it’s happening to all of us. Again I think that’s an opportunity where we can reframe that and look at, what can I learn from it? Last night my husband and I played a card game of spades with our sons at the table until like midnight. That’s not something that we would have ever thought to do on a typical school night. You know, we would have made sure that they got in bed at a decent time, we would have cleaned up the kitchen. We would have went to bed at a decent time because we needed to be up for work at 6:00. Instead we’re working remote for the most part. He has to go into the office some. But it looks different. We’re able to get a little bit of a slower start in the morning. We don’t have to fix our hair and do our makeup and all the different things that go along with being out facing the world every day. I know that’s not everyone’s experience. Some people, you know, who are first responders and are essential personnel still have to get up and go to work. I worked in a hospital for over 20 years, so I have such a love in my heart for people who absolutely have to be at work right now –
Anne: Oh yeah, bless the first responders, and yeah.
Eb: Absolutely, bless them all, all of our police officers, our EMTs, our doctors, our nurses, our social workers, all of those on the front line, our janitors, our food delivery people. You know, everyone is feeling this.
Anne: Well, I think they’re all feeling a form of, I would say, fear and uncertainty, and yet reactions can be completely different. Now it’s funny you said we don’t have to put our makeup on. Because I’ve worked him home for so many years now, it took me a while to get into a routine. I found out if I don’t actually put makeup on, then I literally roll out of bed into work and there’s no separation of when I’m, you know, relaxing or when I’m working. And so I need to put my makeup on. So just so you know, I have my makeup on right now [laughs] while we’re talking.
Eb: I do not, so just so you know. [laughs]
Anne: That’s okay. I just want you to know that that’s okay. [laughs] Everybody out there –
Eb: What you just did, the way that you set boundaries is unique to you. For people who have always worked at home or who have worked at home for a long time, one thing that’s unique for them is that their spouses might be home with them, their kids are home. It feels like an invasion of privacy like your space is not yours anymore. There’s no defined workspaces. And so you know, some clients are really struggling with how to share the daytime experience at home. I know my dog is looking at us every day like “when are you guys going to leave? Give me my me time back. I can’t get on the couch. I can’t do any of the things I usually do when you all are not here.” You know. And so we’re all having that adjustment.
Anne: Yes, our animals are also adjusting. Actually, I think they’re quite happy that we’re both home. However I’m not used to my husband being home, and I can only say I’m super thankful I have a booth to go into because while he’s upstairs working and I can hear him, I can be in this booth and not hear him and we can work. We’re super fortunate that way. But yeah, what are some tips that you have for making that a successful gathering where everyone can get their work done and not end up being at each other’s throats?
Eb: I think a lot of it is choosing to perceive this as an opportunity for time that we are probably never going to have again. It’s not the summer time. It’s a unique time where we are in the house with one another, but it’s putting boundaries in place. It’s setting a schedule. It’s making sure that each person is accountable for that schedule. In our house for example, we’re still making our kids get up in the morning for school, not as 6:30, but by 9:00 everyone is up and settled into their place, and everyone has their own workspace. So one of my kids is at, you know, a desk in an office in the house. Another kid is at the dining table. My husband is sitting usually at the kitchen table, but we are all in our own space working, and we’ll typically work for an hour or two and take a little bit of a break and meet in the kitchen, and we might have a dance party for five or 10 minutes while we get a snack or have something to drink and then we go back to work. So we try to make sure that one or both parents is on the same level with them of the house. We’re not letting them just sit in their room all day. They’re not playing video games all day. There’s structure to it because, at least I live in North Carolina, the schools are closed until May 15. That’s a really long period of time to figure out how to structure. And I have as I mentioned a graduating senior. So you know, it’s just making sure that he also stays on task. I also think it’s important for families to do what works for them. And social media is just awful and a blessing all at the same time.
Anne: Yeah, that was going to be my next question, how to handle social media and the news. Do you have any advice? Because I found myself in the beginning constantly like listening to the news, reading about it. After a while it really started to freak me out a little bit more than it probably should have. I found it hard to control myself constantly like watching the news, reading about it, and I found it to be super distracting.
Eb: Yes. It absolutely can be distracting because you can just go down this rabbit hole, of course, with all of the information that’s available. I have purposely limited my access to Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, a lot of social media feeds mainly because while I think it’s great if you’ve got this wonderful homeschooling environment set up, I think it also can make you feel deflated if you don’t have that setup in your home when you’re looking at your friend down the street or your friend in another city or state. There’s already so much comparison that we make between ourselves and other people. People’s social media life is oftentimes just a snapshot of their day. We don’t see how many hours it took to get that perfect shot or that perfect image that has been created. I think it’s really helpful to just do what works in your house. Some people might cringe at the fact we were playing cards at midnight last night. But that works in my house. That’s not every night. It’s giving yourself permission to let your family be whatever it is, because at the end of the day, if one of us were to, Lord forbid, contract this virus and get really sick, I don’t think anybody is going to give a damn about the fact that we were playing cards at midnight. That’s a good thing that we’ve got that memory as a family to look back on. I’m using this time to create memories with my kids, and I don’t really care what anybody else thinks about it. Number one, I’m not talking to anybody else about it, except for all of your listeners now, but number two, it’s okay to just give yourself permission to have some fun in the midst of this and not buy into the fear and the anxiety, you know. You asked about the news. For me, I would really encourage, and what I’m encouraging clients to do, is look at the news that applies to you and how it impacts you and learn what you need to learn and stop there. You don’t have to go down the rabbit hole. I think it’s important to know what’s going on globally, but the closer and closer this gets to your doorstep, you need to know how it impacts you. You have to decide how much information is too much because we can go into information overload. We don’t really know exactly what is the definitive truth because there’s so much that’s unknown about this virus. We don’t know if the malaria meds are going to work. We don’t know if there’s really a vaccine that’s going to be here in a few months or a year. There’s a lot of uncertainty related to this, but that’s also life. There’s so much uncertainty related to life in general, and this virus just mimics that. It’s just that we’re socially distanced and isolated more with this virus than we would be ordinarily.
Anne: Yeah. I think for me the fear, being a cancer survivor, I had – I have a fear of illness actually. There’s my admission. I have a fear of illness. I was always kind of have. I was always that little girl. I was always kind of worried when I was growing up, and interestingly enough, you know, I was diagnosed with cancer. In a way, it for me, it turned out to be a blessing in how I deal with fear because it was very uncertain. The doctors didn’t know in the beginning. There was a lot of waiting for test results. There was a lot of, well, your illness is not like everybody else’s illness. And so with the doctors being uncertain until they were able to clarify and do more tests, and I was uncertain, at one point I had nowhere else to go but to just give it up to the universe and have faith that things were going to work out. And I’m feeling kind of the same way here because things are so uncertain. And I know that that little survival trick back in the day, when I was diagnosed, really helped me, and I think it’s helping me now. And I would like your thoughts on that, on how maybe, because it is the uncertainty that’s the hardest to deal with.
Eb: There’s the difference between being worried and being anxious. And you know you worry is very mild in nature. It’s temporary. To some degree we can control the worry by distracting ourselves in thinking about other things. It’s very specific in nature. So I can just imagine that when you were diagnosed, there was worry about your health and the impact on your family and what the treatment options are going to look like and –
Anne: Oh yeah.
Eb: – how that’s going to impact your job, and worried about what happens if this is not able to be successfully treated and I go into remission. That’s a very specific worry. But where it becomes concerning is where it bleeds over into anxiety. Anxiety oftentimes is very vague. It’s not just anxious about contracting this virus. It’s then what happens and how many people can I spread it to, and that’s where you go down that rabbit hole, and it’s severe, and it controls you, and it lasts. One of the best antidotes for anxiety is to choose to be calm. If you don’t have some type of faith system, it’s looking at this as an opportunity to develop some rootedness, something that anchors you and tethers you to this world in some way, whether it’s a god of your understanding, the universe at large, just something that makes you feel like you’re not in this alone, because we’re not in this alone. You can find any number of people online who are saying the exact same thing that most of us are saying and feeling and thinking, that it’s finding maybe like-minded people who are not going to stir the pot but are going to walk with you, where you are and partner with you in that. But choosing calm goes a long way. And if you can’t, you don’t know how to get control over the thoughts that are racing, know that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to reach out for help. It’s okay to wave a white flag of surrender and say “I don’t know how to do this anymore,” because I’m finding that for most of my clients who are coming in in a state of panic, this panic is not new. It just has a new name attached to it. If you already struggle with anxiety disorder, this is one thing to be anxious about. And so it really is teasing that out for a lot of people.
Anne: One of the other conclusions that I had come to – I mean, this was years ago, back in 2012 when I was diagnosed. I was still going through my checkups and I still encounter fear in a lot of different ways related to that. But I think the one thing that really helped me was to realize when I got to the point where it started to overtake me, and about the only thing I could do is say, “well, you know, I have no control over this,” and I had to actually admit that to myself, and for me, that was a big thing, was being able to admit I don’t have the control. And what do I have? All I have is love. All I have is the love that I can give or compassion that I can give to my friends, my family, the world, and that brought me such solace and such peace that I trying to employ this here and anybody who comes into contact with me and is expressing any kind of anxiety about this. I feel actually so fortunate, believe it or not, that I’ve had that experience, that I can at least try to remind myself of that and come back to a sense of calm. I’m hoping that that might be something that can help somebody out there that might be listening and is super anxious as well as everything we’re talking about today. I guess my next question would be for you, how can we recognize if somebody is getting to the point where it’s not healthy for them, that the anxiety and the uncertainty and the fear is really starting to disrupt their lives? What can we do? What are some signs to look for, and what can we do to help?
Eb: That’s a great question. You know, a lot of what you talk about in terms of that powerlessness, that’s exactly what the first step of any recovery program is about is admitting that we’re powerless because until I admit that I can’t control this, then it’s very hard sometimes to relinquish the thoughts that are raging in my head. And being able to just stop, and step back, and take a breath, and acknowledge this is bigger than me, it allows you to then reach out to someone else for help. And in terms of what this looks like for someone else, you know, anxiety and that loss of control, the perceived loss of control really looks different for every person. Anxiety presents itself in a lot of different ways, you know, having a hard time sleeping, feeling really agitated or angry. In kids it can look like a lot of defiant behavior, real challenging behavior, overly worried, overly anxious, walking in place, walking around with clenched fists, just the visible, outward signs of anger, a lot of crying, a hard time really managing emotions, having actual full-blown panic attacks. You know, that’s another one where people really feel like they are not in control of themselves in that moment. And we feel it all over our body. So when you see it in someone else, it may look like they are sweating profusely, that they are dizzy. They look tense, they’re complaining of body aches and pains, but no fever. You know, it’s not signs of the virus necessarily that they’re displaying, but they just feel like they’re really out of control. Sometimes it’s just saying to them, that, you know, I can see you’re in this place, and asking how can I help? What can I do to help you? It’s not being a mind reader and assuming that what helps you when you’re in a difficult place is what will help them. You know, maybe that’s offering to take their dog for a walk, offering to take their kids for a few hours, you know, if no one is displaying signs of illness. But it’s just being there for them, just listening to them talk, you know, giving an ear to them and really encouraging them to get help and reaching out to someone to talk to, and that looks different depending on whether someone is self-employed or not. If they are self-employed, there are a lot of resources available for online counseling right now, BetterHelp, Talkspace are a few of the primary ones. if you are employed, your employer probably has health insurance that you can utilize, and through health insurance it might be that you’re utilizing Teledoc or your own private insurance, and working with a therapist, or if you have an employee assistance program available, it’s using that resource. Typically the first few visits are going to be at no cost, additional cost to you as an employee. And so there are a lot of resources available. Your local mental health center, many therapists are volunteering hours online to be available. There really are a lot of resources to tap into. Even the CDC has resources that are listed on their website for mental health because we know if you’re not feeling it physically, you very well may be feeling it mentally and emotionally.
Anne: Right. Absolutely. I wanted to especially reach out to those that are experiencing this that might live alone or be alone, that there’s lots of support out there, and I’m glad that you just mentioned all of the resources that you did. First of all, I want to say thank you so much for spending the time and talking with me and our listeners about this. And if they want to get in touch with you, can they do that? And what is the best way to get in touch with you?
Eb: So I’m licensed in the states of Georgia and North Carolina, and under state laws, I can only see clients who are in those two states specifically. But if you need resources, you can certainly reach out to me. I have a private practice here in North Carolina. It’s 180 Counseling, and you can reach out to me directly there. If you don’t live in North Carolina or in the state of Georgia, I can certainly assist you with other resources in your area, more locally.
Anne: Thank you so much for that.
Eb: You’re welcome.
Anne: BOSSes and listeners, I will be putting those links on the website for you, or the resources, and Eb, it has just been a pleasure talking with you. And I feel, I’m feeling better. So that’s a good thing. I hope you listeners are feeling better too, and everybody, I want you to stay safe, stay healthy, and if you need anything, please feel free to reach out. I’m going to give a great big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. I love the fact that we can connect like this, Eb. This has been just wonderful that we can connect and reach out to our listeners in this way, and it’s all because of ipDTL technology. If you want to find out more, you can go to ipdtl.com. Thanks so much, Kevin, for all the work you’re doing, connecting us together. Guys, have a great week, and we’ll see you next week. Thanks so much.
>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host, Anne Ganguzza, and take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voboss.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.