Managing Stress, Fear and Overwhelm During Coronavirus

March 19, 2020

Managing Stress, Fear and Overwhelm During Coronavirus

Managing Stress, Fear and Overwhelm During Coronavirus

In these uncharted waters of COVID19/coronavirus, Brave by Design is bringing you shows to help you live well in as we all navigate this new period.

In today's episode we talk to psychotherapist Megan Gunnell about how to manage the stress, fear and overwhelm that we are facing in the light of coronavirus.

Megan Gunnell is the Founder & Director of the Thriving Well Institute, psychotherapist, speaker, writer, international retreat leader. With an expertise in women’s health, self-care, mindfulness and wellness, her work helps clients transform, restore and reach their highest potential. A recovering perfectionist and recklessly brave, she's not afraid of most challenges. You will find her work featured in Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, PsychCentral, HealthiNation, Healthy Bloggers, Corp! Magazine, Esperanza Magazine, Hour Magazine and more.

Megan Gunnell online:

Thriving Well Institute

Join our virtual bookclub on April 6th! Details at:

Connect with Laura Khalil online:
Invite Laura to speak at your event

Additional Resources Discussed:

Kevin Ozar's YouTube page with advice from a teacher:

The Gottman's State of the Union for couples:

Imago Relationship Therapy:

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spk_0:   0:00
Episode 11 of Brave by design on managing stress, anxiety and overwhelmed during Corona virus. Welcome to Brave by design I'm your host, LL Oracle, Ill. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking Bake. Exploring the power of personal development and sharing the best strategies from about leaders and pioneers and business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started. Hi, friends. It's me, Laura. Welcome to this episode of Brave by Design Boy, has the world changed? When I was recording the intro for the last episode, we were still leaving the house. At that point, we were concerned and careful and watching. And now I don't know if that's your situation, but mine is We're on full on lock down here. Uh, and I keep thinking back to boy, when was life normal? What was that like? I have to tell you, the last time I remember being in a situation like it wasn't even really like this. But a situation where we saw people coming together in solidarity was in 9 11 and that keeps going through my head. Ah, and you know, the difference for me, anyway, was that during 9 11 we came together. And then as quickly as we came together, we found an enemy and we went to war and that, you know, we all know the story of that. And what's been going on for the last 19 years and how that developed. Um and what's so interesting this time is that the enemy is truly invisible. It is not a state, a nation and ideology, a belief system, a religion. There is no one to attack. And what I like about that what I am finding so profound in this time is that the on leeway that we will recover in addition to the absolutely heroic efforts off our hospital staff are grocery staff are deliverers. Our grocery delivers ups delivers in them. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. In addition to their help, the only way that we will truly, truly get through this and thrive is by going inward is by slowing down is by, you know, not using the distraction off, being busy of going outside to avoid the most important relationship in our lives. And that is the relationship with ourselves. And so for me, this is a call to action to go within. There is nobody outside of us that we can fight to stop this. The Onley thing that we can do to stay healthy is to take care of ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially. And so in that, um, spirit, we're really gonna be doing some shifts to the upcoming episodes of Brave by Design. And so you're going to be hearing more episodes more frequently as we go through this, because I have completely turned the ship to really help provide resources for you to thrive in your life amidst this crisis. I truly, truly believe that in every single crisis in our lives, there lays incredible opportunity for growth. I believe that very strongly. I believe that right now, and I say that to you as someone who has lost all of their speaking engagements who has zero in revenue coming in? I say that as someone who has two parents who are severely immuno compromised, who are quarantined and who I repeatedly, um, trying to impress the importance of not leaving the house on. So I say that to you as a human being. I say that to you as a friend. I say that to you as, um someone who is going through a lot, too. And who is looking for the wisdom in this time so you can look forward to more episodes from us on how to thrive during this time, how to cope. And today's episode is a great example of that. Serendipitously, Megan Gunnel was recommended to me by two different people to come on the show to talk about how to manage stress, anxiety and overwhelm in this incredibly challenging time. We had a really fruitful discussion and make sure to listen to it until the end because she provides some great tips and resources and steps for you towards the end of this discussion as well as throughout. But I just want to make sure you stay till the end because I don't want you to miss that, folks. Let me know how you're doing. I want to let you know of a few things that I'm doing to support you. In addition to more episodes coming out to support you. In this time every Wednesday, I'm doing a bring your own lunch zoom. This is free to attend if you want to get details on that. You need to do a few things. You can follow me on social media on LinkedIn Instagram You can join the brave by design Facebook group and I always share info there. I share the videos there as well. You can also join the email list where I will be posting the link to this. This is on Wednesdays. We're going to do it from 11. 32 12. 30. This is a place to come. Get support, talk to other people, be in community with this amazing community. And I know this is an amazing community because I get to meet many of you within our brave by design Facebook group. So if you're craving more community, if you're craving like I need to look at someone, I need to like, you know, have a minute with an adult. If you've got kids and you're running around, join us on that. Wednesday's can find all the information on social media or through my email list. All right, I'm thinking of y'all and sending you a lot of love and strength in this time. And now let's move on to our episode about managing stress overwhelmed and anxiety during Corona virus. Okay, everyone, welcome to this episode of Brave by design. This is the Corona Virus addition way. We are doing a bunch of content for you guys to help you learn how to thrive during this period of incredible stress, incredible insecurity in a variety of ways. And I am so excited to introduce you to today's expert. This is Meghan Gunnell. She is the founder and director of the Thriving Well Institute. Psychotherapist, speaker, writer, an international retreat leader, a recovering perfectionist and recklessly brave. My God, she's not afraid of most challenges. All my guys girls on my alley. But hang on. You will find her work featured in arrived Global Authority magazine, Sikes, Central Healthy Nation, Healthy Bloggers Corp magazine, Esperanza magazine, our magazine and

spk_1:   7:26
more. I operate by design like Thank you so much for having me today. It's totally my honor and privilege It, you

spk_0:   7:36
know, thank you for leaping with me because when we started and this was probably two or three days ago, I was online. And I'm like, we need to serve our community. We need to help give them resources because people are scared. People are overwhelmed. They don't know what to Dio. And I'm so glad that your name came up several times.

spk_1:   7:55
So, Meghan, what are you

spk_0:   7:56
seeing right now in your

spk_1:   7:57
practice? This is unprecedented for all of us, as we are all navigating something brand new. But I'm telling you, I've been in this field for over 20 years and I have never experienced a single unilateral theme running through every single session. No matter will it. Ah, clients. Preexisting presenting problem. Waas It is all consuming for everyone. But what I am noticing is we're having kind of ah, to polar opposite experience. So I'm either hearing that people are like, this is way too much togetherness or I'm incredibly isolated and lonely. And so I'm winding that we're having kind of this, you know, polarity experience for people of like, how am I going to get through this and not kill my family or jump out of a window? Or how am I going to do this? Because I'm so incredibly isolated and alone.

spk_0:   8:50
Oh, my gosh. Okay, so why don't we start? Let's start with the people who are isolated, who are maybe in a self quarantine or, um have orders to stay at home. What do we say to those folks? How do we even begin?

spk_1:   9:05
There's so much to do in terms of. I've been kind of repeating this little mantra all week, especially this week, because people are really moving into this isolation lock down now. And, um, it's really about, in my opinion, surrendering, accepting and adapting. And so when we can move into what I call psychological flexibility instead of remaining rigid, um, you know, because when we keep saying that like, the world has to show up for us in this way or we have to have it done this way or we have to go out and get this done right now or we have to, you know, eat these kinds of foods, right? Very inflexible, right? It's super rigid. And so what I really want to do is encourage everyone to move into adaptability and flexibility, which requires some permission to let go. And for my folks that have a lot of control or anxiety issues, don't forget that anxiety also spikes when our experience of being trapped or uncertainty peaks. And right now we feel trapped in uncertain. So all of us are going through this experience of trying to navigate. How do you de escalate anxiety and still remain flexible? It's a really tough balance.

spk_0:   10:21
So let's take some examples of people who, let's say, really rely on like they're, um, exercise regimen. They always go to the gym every day. That's how they blow off steam. And they are now feeling a little trapped at home. They can't do that. Maybe they're they're anxiety is sort of welling up. Yes, an example of what if a person like that could do to be more flexible in

spk_1:   10:48
Hello, I've seen some amazingly creative solutions in a very short amount of time. People are creating a lot of digital virtual options. I've seen a ton of local gyms and yoga, you know, centers offering online courses. So there's a lot that you could, too, in your own home. Right now, there's a ton of free material on YouTube. But a lot of the experts that I'm noticing in the, um, fitness industry are offering ah lot of options for people virtually and digitally. So there is that opportunity. I've also seen a lot of people walking and riding their bikes and walking their dogs. I mean, I typically work 30 to 3 30 Monday through Friday. I come home, I get my kids like a regular regular day, not Cove in 19 kind of his nipple and pick up my family, you know, do my thing at home. And then I grabbed my dog and go for a walk and typically will run into on a two mile walk. We'll see, like, you know, three or four people. The other day we walked for two or three miles. My poor dog is like exist. Oh, stop with the walking. She's like, This is enough. But we saw, like, 40 people out walking, and it was really, really noticeable. So I think they're You know, everyone's been kind of talking about, like the tiny little silver linings or opportunities to be grateful. And, you know, when we think about it, it's definitely slowed our society down. And I'm not trying to make light of things that are, you know, um, you know, traumatizing for people or or economic hardships and things like that. But if you are able to try to see what kinds of things we can do differently in terms of digital that virtual walk and talk. You could connect with a friend and walk your two mile walk and still stay socially connected and still get a little fresh air and sunshine for right now that's still in action for us. And we should take advantage of it.

spk_0:   12:46
Yeah, you know, that's so funny. You mention that because, ah, couple days ago, we had a beautiful day in Michigan and Ah, yeah, and you're in Michigan to see you probably remember this, and I I, you know, had spent the day on the computer, you know, doing my work and all that stuff. And I went outside and I just sat on the porch looking, hearing the birds, listening to what was going on. And I thought, You know, Laura, you never do this right. I never do. And I said, This is just so beautiful. I sat there just for like, 15 20 minutes. How was so great? And I just loved

spk_1:   13:17
it. Wow is mindfulness. So that's the other part of this. That's the other part of what helps us cope. Is stopping the externalization of the noise and busy nurse. So when we're in a mindful zone what you just described. It gives me the goosebumps being present, and being engaged is it helps us feel alive. And when we move away from, you know what was in the past versus what's in the future? We could really stay in just this zone right here. I was told my clients put up your blinders. You know, pull yourself into the moment and really experience what's in front of you. And it might just be a few minutes of noticing birdsong like you just mentioned. Or, you know, when you're taking a walk, you're not looking down at your phone. Hopefully, you're looking up, you know? I mean, it does make us kind of pulled out of our head space for a little while and get off of the social media channels that could be flooding us. And that,

spk_0:   14:15
And of course, social media right now is a really challenging place. It could be very helpful for people that want to be connected, but can also be incredibly challenging, Like Armageddon is going on on Twitter right now. It was like, Well, do you want to expose yourself to that and what I have been telling people. And maybe what you're you would tell people you'll have to tell me is listen, limit your media exposure time. We don't need to have CNN on or whatever it is on 24 7

spk_1:   14:43
No, I agree. Okay. And so there are some tips on that. So, Dallas, be definitely limit your exposure case yourself. And then what I'm telling people to do with regards to social media is curate your feet and so that you can hide things right now that might flood you emotionally and you can augment things that fill you up. And so we still want to stay informed. We still want to know what's going on. And of course, there are, like, live updates happening in real time constantly right now. So it's hard not to feel like you. You know, you're spiking into hyper vigilance and wanting to really stay informed and on top of it. But I do feel it's important that we paced ourselves and limit our exposure and curate your feet. So you really want to think like what? What kinds of pages do I want to really be connected to and looked into right now? And that might even be like the great British faking shore. Right? My mother, You might be sharing a lot of pretty English gardens right now, in addition to being, you know, sources of information that you trust. But I do find that people have, like, a little bit of a mix out there of, like, sharing recipes as if the world's just going out normally and then sort of this Armageddon. You know, you know, tone. So be careful, because that can definitely flood us. And we don't want to feel overwhelmed on a constant basis, or it's gonna start to impede, are functioning.

spk_0:   16:04
So this brings me to another point. Let's talk about those families who are together and who may be feeling constantly overwhelmed by the duties, to be apparent, to be a teacher, to manage your work too, you know? And then and then all this other stuff going on. Megan, what are you seeing in your practice around this? What are what's going on?

spk_1:   16:25
Well, I'm noticing that parents who are doing well are the ones who are doing two things. One, they're giving themselves permission to not have it perfect right now and then two, they're letting themselves, you know, create their own new pace, but they're also giving themselves an opportunity to increase their communication. So that's what I really recommend. And I did this with my own family last week when we realized that all four of us I've got two teenage kids and my husband and I and our poor dog whose existence you feel tired all the time does. We're walking here today, Um, but we have this, you know, our family and four is altogether. Right now it's nonstop like isolation lock down here. We're not leaving the house. And there is something to be said for communicating what the needs are. And I said to everybody in our little sort of pseudo family meeting last week, You know what? We're going to be together a lot. We need to think before we speak, we need to give each other a little extra cushion when doors are closed and people are working. We really need to respect that privacy. Now I know that's not always possible for kids with young Children. You're trying to juggle your own meetings and conference calls, and you've got time right here, or preschoolers that you're trying to home school. I mean, this is really a huge challenge, but we don't have to do it perfectly. We don't have to be instant homeschool teaching experts. We really need to be able to pace ourselves with this and know that we're all adjusting to a new normal, and it's not going to be fast and easy.

spk_0:   18:00
You know, I was on a call yesterday. Ah, zoom like this. And, um, one of the gals on the call her daughter ran in and wanted to, like, chat with us. And, you know, I want to say to parents who are afraid of their kids popping in on the calls and stuff like that. It was actually really welcome for me, and it was a really sweet little surprise. And I made me really happy to talk to a little person, you know, because I don't have kids. I'm not surrounded with them, so, you know, I'm not inundated with Children, but, you know, it was really sweet, and it was just, like a really great moment. And so I I want to say the parents as well, if you're listening, if your kid pops into a meeting, it's okay. like edit.

spk_1:   18:44
Yeah, and that's what I'm telling my clients. I'm like, you know, I'm behind a closed door. I'm in a home office slash guest room right now. I've set up my space, but you know, if something is knocking on the door, my dog will bark. She wants to be in my room. She's in here right now, but she'll give a little, you know, morning shot on that, and you'll hear it. And so And if your kid is coming to you and you need to adjust, something will take a minute. We'll pause, and then we'll go back into it. So again, flexibility, I can't emphasize this enough. We really need to be able to give ourselves permission to say we're all doing the best we can. And we're not going to be perfect at this. We need to let that go. And we're just trying to navigate how we can try to juggle this, and some days are gonna feel like we'd conquered it, and some days we're gonna feel like we're falling on her face, and that's kind of true for everyday life. Anyway, um, you know, pre Corona virus, you know, um, sort of State of the Bears. But I do think we need to really emphasize flexibility and permission to just figure it out as we go. We don't have to, like, have some sort of wicked schedule that just isn't really gonna work for our families, you

spk_0:   19:51
know? So are you. Um, what do you think about people who are who are creating very, very strict schedules during this period of time? Because I've seen some people do that. They're saying the kid's structure. Do you think about

spk_1:   20:07
that? Well, I think we also have to lean in a little bit, and I'm kind of a Montessori type, you know, philosophy parent myself. My kids did a really unique Montessori program, and they learned a lot about being super self directed. And I'm seeing it show up now as they're teenagers, because they're just creating their own schedule. And I heard a wonderful There's a wonderful veteran teacher from Grosse Pointe. His name is Kevin O's are, and he has created a YouTube channel with everyday updates from a teacher's perspective for parents. It's really I love that. I'll give you the link if you want. Yeah,

spk_0:   20:42
we can put it in the show. Notes. Yeah,

spk_1:   20:44
he's amazing. And he talked about some of these things and one of his updates recently. And he was like, You know, let's not forget that high school students, for example, are typically gonna sleep a little later. And he's like If they want to start their school day at 10 or 11 and go until bye, let's let them do that. You know what he's like. If you have little ones in the house and they want to get up at 7 a.m. and you want to start a structured, routine vet early and they're ready to go, then do it. But I also loved his reinforcement of that flexibility because on my sister, she's got two young Children at home right now. Elementary school age. And she was telling me the other day they were setting up areas in their house for different subjects, and she's like, I feel like they're creating the system that's gonna work best for that. So, so cool. It's really cool when we try to let kids have permission to figure this out with us supporting them and guiding them. I think everybody wins.

spk_0:   21:39
Oh gosh, I love that. Now let's talk about couples. So there are couples with kids without kids. Um, you know, and I know that there is a certain degree of, like, health, healthy bickering and relationship. There can also be like I need a break. I'm I'm overloaded by this, um, you know, for couples who are spending more time together than they ever have, what would you recommend

spk_1:   22:04
for them? I think we need to really increase our communication. I would actually recommend that we have, like, a regular touch point conversation built into our weekly schedules. Like, you know, I wasn't going. How are you doing? I had a client, for example, the other day that said to me, we're in a small space and she said, Sometimes if I want to take a phone call that isn't work related. Um, you know, do we have to be in the same room for that? You know, she was like, a weird I kind of I'm used to maybe making some of these calls with my girlfriends in my car or in other places, or my husband wouldn't be home yet, so I'm just chit chatting away, you know, to making dinner or something. And he's right over my shoulder now. And so she was like, I had this conversation with him, like, I'm not trying to say, I don't want to be with you all the time or that I'm gonna talk about you on this call. But I also want a little bit of respectful privacy. And so once you're able to clear that and just express what your needs are and what your expectations and assumptions are, well, we're going through this. That's step one and clarifying. Because if we can clean up our expectations and assumptions were gonna be light years ahead of the couples that are sort of still in their head thinking why I thought you were thinking this, you know? And then they're crying the whole time, right?

spk_0:   23:21
Well, you know, I love this idea. Um, of you probably are familiar with the got Mons. Yes, and they have that State of the Union weekly Check in

spk_1:   23:32
love it. That's exactly this. Yes.

spk_0:   23:35
So, guys, if you're interested in that go on, just Google State of the Union will put a link to it in the show notes and see the type of questions you can ask And you know it's interesting, because I think for a lot of people, to your point, they're used to actually not communicating there. Used to writing off of their assumptions of what's going on a wedding, things flow, letting things slide

spk_1:   24:00
or avoiding,

spk_0:   24:01
avoiding, avoiding, um, and then you can't get away. I mean, here's the thing. You can't get away. That's right. So this is a beautiful time for you both to intentionally think about strengthening the relationship.

spk_1:   24:18
Yes, and it starts with communication. One thing I will say that this could be a really good nugget for some people listening today is and this comes from us from Harville Hendrix, who's the author of Getting a Love I Want You Want. And it is based in the Imago Couples there people axity. I am a geo and he says we should start every conversation with Are you available? And I love that right? Can you imagine if someone did that instead of just barging in and kind of blind side and you know, what the hell do you have? I mean, that's usually what happens, and that's where we then, you know, spike up into defense and before we know what we're kind of in that holly. And so what we really want to do is say, Are you available? Oh, it's more of that. You know, I mean, so respectful. It just, like, makes you feel loved already before you even start talking. So that's a good one.

spk_0:   25:11
That's beautiful. Boy, there are so many beautiful, beautiful resources for people to tap into. So we will include those, um, in the show notes as well. Bacon. What are a couple of pieces of advice you'd like to leave our audience

spk_1:   25:26
with? I think right now, as a therapist who focuses a lot on how we thrive, how businesses and people thrive, I have a little formula. And I think while right now to we have to up our self care. This is big. What is self care look like? Self care is sleep, nutrition, hydration movement or exercise and social outlets. Okay, so right now that's gonna be virtual. You could do your virtual dinner, party your walk and talk your virtual hangouts. You know, your we did a family face time the other day have six people on. There was great. So there's a lot of things that you can do now with regards to up in yourself. Here I have heard people say, I've never slept so much of my life because I don't have to go anywhere. And I like resting. I think that the whole country collectively was exhausted and kind of on the brink. So upping our self care is really important practicing mindfulness, right, putting the blinders off and really focusing on increasing your awareness of your senses, which is just like asking the question, What do I hear when you were talking about the birdsong, What do I see? What do I smell? What I taste, what I feel and so mindful misses a beautiful way to really help yourself come into the moment when you feel yourself spinning ahead. The third thing is gratitude. What is it that we can be grateful for when we are in a crisis like we are now? We have the tendency to slide into scarcity mindset, and the one thing that brings us back to abundant thinking is gratitude. And so that's Step three. The next one is boundary management, and that comes with healthy communication around, making sure that we can talk to our family about what our needs are. What part is mine? What part isn't mine? How are we working together? You know, how are we communicating? What those needs are. And when we need space and privacy, how do we access that? And the last step in how we thrive is effective, healthy communication. So if we can practice all those things, I think it's gonna really help us move through this and get through it in in a way that feels a little healthier.

spk_0:   27:35
I absolutely love that. Thank you so much for joining us on. Brave by design. Megan, how can people get in touch with you if they'd like to learn more or reach you?

spk_1:   27:44
Um, I have a couple websites out there. You can find me by my name. Meghan gunnel dot com. The Thriving well institute has its own web site and Paige and I'm on Twitter, Facebook, all the channels. So, um, take a take a look and see. Um, I love to connect with people. I am offering telehealth sessions. Um, both through zoom conference like this or through phone sessions. They're hip, A compliant platforms. Um, and it's so far going really well for my client. So if anybody needs extra support, you'll be out of reach out.

spk_0:   28:16
Megan, is that available to people outside of Michigan?

spk_1:   28:20
Yes, it iss no. Health is something that can cross state lines. Now, we do have to look very carefully at what the benefits are. Um, And what the legality is so right now, Currently, I'm servicing Michigan clients, but I do know that there are a lot of telehealth of therapist offering online therapy across state borders. We'll be sure to, you know, check that with your benefits.

spk_0:   28:42
Okay. Awesome. Megan, thank you so much. This has been

spk_1:   28:45
a pleasure. Thank

spk_0:   28:46
you for having me. I want to thank you for joining me. And remember to subscribe to your favorite app so you can stay up to date. And I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode, please leave a review and comment on apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on Lincoln, and I'm also on instagram at force of bad ass. Sory. All that information will be available in the show notes until next time. Stay brave