Family Psychiatry
Counseling & Wellness

A comprehensive, integrative psychiatric and wellness clinic serving the mental, physical, emotional and preventative health needs of all members of the family. Find better, one step at a time.

Holistic Psychiatry for your Mind, Body & Soul

At Family Psychiatry Counseling & Wellness, we specialize in performing comprehensive psychiatric and psychological evaluations to establish accurate diagnoses and prepare individualized treatment plans. We combine advanced conventional methods with safe alternative treatment approaches to bring about lasting relief and improved quality of life.

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Anxiety and Anticipation

The pandemic is coming to an end, so why does it feel bittersweet?

According to the CDC, if you are fully vaccinated you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic. After more than a year of waiting for the green light to resume normality, you would think we would be jumping with joy, but it seems like while that is a good thing, there is uncertainty and unease about leaving the house, socializing with friends, and family, and going back into workspaces.

American Psychological Association released statistics about the stress of Covid due to a year of social isolation. The studies show that a large population said they experienced weight gain, sleeping issues, and substance use. Not only that, nearly half of Americans say they feel nervous thinking about in-person interaction once the pandemic ends. Thanks to Covid, social anxieties and uncertainty became more acute and frequent. Martin Antony, a professor of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto, and co-author of the book “The Anti-Anxiety Program,” states “One thing we can expect is that it’s going to affect everybody differently. It is not like everybody’s going to be more socially anxious. Some people will, for others it won’t be an issue.”

For those of us who are experiencing social anxiety and unease, here are some helpful tips to cope with entering post-pandemic life.

Set Boundaries

“Often when people feel anxious it’s because they are feeling a high level of uncertainty about things that are out of their control,” says Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler who is an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. For example, if you are nervous about the aspect of socializing again, you can decide who you want to see, you have the option to wear a mask, and you can pick an outdoor location. All those things can be under your jurisdiction. Making lists of things that you can control can be a helpful way to offset social anxiety.

Baby Steps

While the idea of socializing again for some seems like a dream come true, others might feel nervous. Those that have adjusted to the pandemic, find themselves anxious at the prospect of social interaction. It is normal to feel nervous about uncharted waters, but fully avoiding the situation might cause a bigger problem. “The worst thing we could do is completely avoid things causing us anxiety because avoidance can work in the short term, but it impairs us in the long run,” said Vaile Wright, senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association. The avoidance helps add to the idea that everything is a danger. A gentle push to do things that cause discomfort can be better in calming the anxiety for the future. Doing small activities that bring slight unease can be a good transition to post-pandemic life. Try seeing a few people at a time and not overbook your schedule.

Getting Excited Again

With all the negatives the pandemic has caused it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is easy to think of all the stress and despair that this last year has caused but staying in that mind space is not helpful. Instead, start focusing on some positives. What are you excited about doing once things are fully open? Do you have a vacation planned? Long-lost friends to catch up with? Start making a list of positive things that you are looking forward to.

You Are Not Alone

It is important to know that these feelings are normal. This is a new experience for everyone and that comes with a lot of uncertainty and discomfort. Remember to be forgiving and gentle with yourself and others. If you or a loved one feel like you need some extra guidance on navigating post-pandemic life, please reach out. We are more than happy to help.

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Dealing with Monotony

Do you feel like every day is the same?

The same house to wake up to, the same people who live with you, the same walk around the block, the same work schedule and Zoom calls, the same drive to the grocery store, the same uncertainty. Rinse and repeat. This monotonous lifestyle caused by the pandemic has loomed over our heads for too long.

We might even find ourselves thinking, it feels just like the movie Groundhog Day. But while Bill Murray’s character broke the seemingly never-ending spell of repetition by working on bettering himself, the reality of our case cannot be solved with movie magic and character development.

According to a survey conducted in Italy about the pandemic, loss of freedom and boredom were the top issues affecting the mental health of the public. An important element of boredom is control. Not being able to control your situations such as classroom lectures, waiting rooms, and even the pandemic lockdown can cause you to experience boredom. The monotony of the pandemic and lack of interest in the same daily tasks can also contribute.

How can we combat it?

First, it is always important to be reflective with ourselves. Ask yourself if you are taking steps to proper self-care. Are you sleeping enough, eating the right foods, making time for people who care and support you? If you are feeling like you are lacking in any one of those departments, it is time to address it.

With self-care in mind, try to exercise self-compassion. A psychology professor at the University of Texas and an expert in self-compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff, defines it as “relating to ourselves kindly and embracing ourselves flaws and all.” Research has shown that people who practice self-compassion have less depression, anxiety, and fear of failure. Remember to be gentle with yourself and accept that this pandemic has been foreign and difficult on everyone.

Changing up your routine can also help with breaking the cycle of monotony. Humans tend to be creatures of habit, but when the routine starts to affect your well-being then it is time to change it up. If you are noticing that you are feeling unmotivated or unfulfilled then you might want to start altering your daily schedule. Try something new, could be as little as ordering from a new restaurant or watching a new show recommended by a friend. You could also sign up for an online class you have always wanted to take or try out a new hobby. Take a step in the direction of something different such as changing your wardrobe or a new haircut. You want to push yourself into breaking the same routine.

Another recommended tip would be to find your purpose. It is easy to fall into the daily repetition when you feel like you are not working towards anything. Having something to look forward to like planning a deserved trip can help boost motivation. Life goals related to your career or your relationships can help stimulate a sense of purpose. Making plans can give you something to anticipate for and those plans can be small like a dinner with friends or a Zoom call with family. Researchers have found that having something to look forward to helps alleviate the stress of today. By waiting for rewards in the future, people tend to build better self-restraint and stronger resolve.

This pandemic has been a toll on everyone, and it is important to realize you are not alone. Although the state is taking steps to reopen, the effects of the lockdown are still present. Please remember to be considerate with yourself and your loved ones. Being stuck in a rut can be draining but with some extra effort, you can add some freshness and novelty back into your day. If you or a loved one feel like you need some extra assistance in your life, please reach out. We are always here to help.

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Knock Out your Burnout

It has been a full year with the pandemic, a full year of uncertainty and isolation which has left a heavy impact on most of the public. The measures to stay inside and limit exposure has changed everyday life. Working from home, ordering groceries online, and even booking virtual appointments for medical needs are becoming the normality. The environment variety has been limited and the social contact comes with moral obstacles. Days blend into weeks and weeks into months and so often we are left wondering what day it is. This monotonous lifestyle of repetition can cause stress and fatigue which can often lead to burnout.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”

Burnout can cause a lack of interest and motivation. It can become a drain on energy and can have long-term effects on the body that can compromise your immune system. A common issue with burnout, is that it can sneak up on you. The effects and signs are subtle at first but can degrade over time. People will sometimes notice symptoms of burnout after many months have gone by.

So how can you spot it?

It is important to be introspective and ask yourself questions. According to helpguide.org, here are some of the common emotional, physical, and behavioral signs of burnout:

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time.

  • Lowered immunity, frequent illness.

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities.

  • Isolating yourself from others.

  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early.

  • Sense of failure and self-doubt.

  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.

  • Loss of motivation.

  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.

Burnout can be caused by work-related or lifestyle issues. The effects of a year of coronavirus can play a factor in a possible cause of burnout. If this resonates with you, then you or a loved one you know might be experiencing burnout.

What steps can you take to help?
Change up your day-to-day routine.

Changing up your routine can stimulate your brain. The repetitiveness restricts our cognitive functioning. Monotony can influence the decline of cognitive functioning and decrease performance. Due to the current lockdown, it has been difficult to go out and change up routines, but that should not stop you. The changes you make can be small. Try changing up where you work, if you have a laptop try taking your work to another room or even outside. If you are often sitting at a desk, make a habit of getting up to stretch, maybe do some exercise, or even dance. Try rearranging your furniture, it might freshen up your living space.

Work boundaries.

Set work boundaries and try to recognize signs of overwork. If you are experiencing heavy symptoms of stress, if possible, take some time off. If you cannot, try to rephrase the way you view your job, a study from Professor Jane E. Dutton and associate professors Gelaye Debebe and Amy Wrzesniewski co-authored the paper, “Being Valued and Devalued at Work: A Social Valuing Perspective” where they investigated the power of job crafting and the effects it had on their subjects. Those that reshaped and changed their outlook on their work to make it more purpose-driven tended to enjoy their jobs.

Practice Mindfulness.

Check-in with yourself, a lot of people associate mindfulness with meditation but that is not always the case. You can be present and mindful doing all sorts of tasks. It can be reading a book, watching your favorite show, chatting with a close friend. If you are present in those moments and not occupied with day-to-day worries it can help combat burnout. Take the time (5-10 minutes) to reflect on the positives, you can set aside time to even write them down in a journal.

Turn to others.

Reach out to close friends and family, it can be hard when you are experiencing burnout, but community and communication are important. Socializing can have a positive effect to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Although if you feel like you need extra aid, Mental health providers are here to help identify more complex negative behavior patterns and can help with a treatment plan. If you or a loved one feel like you cannot do it alone, please reach out. We are here to help.

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(805) 341-3416
fpcw@familypsychiatry101.com
Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 6:00pm

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31194 La Baya Drive
Suite 202
Westlake Village, CA 91362

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30851 Agoura Road
Suite 304
Agoura Hills, CA 91301

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