Category Archives: Blog

“Uncertainty and Anxiety” by Baruch Zeichner, MA, NCC, LPC, LCMHC

Uncertainty and Anxiety

by Baruch Zeichner, MA, NCC, LPC, LCMHC

We live in uncertain times.  Covid, political unrest, climate change, all big issues that concern all of us because they threaten our well-being.  Humans instinctually do what it takes to survive, or at least what we think will allow us to survive.  Right now our survival faces threats that are biological and social, and these overlap.  The Corona Virus presents the most obvious threat to our survival, but since it has been politicized in some countries, like the US, there is overlap between the biological and the political.  Likewise climate change threatens our lives, and the politicization of climate change creates overlap again.  In other words, these three things all overlap in a Venn Diagram.  The point is that yes it is real, threats to human survival exist.

Humans are sensitive creatures.  We perceive with our physical senses and we perceive with our emotional senses.  We detect emotions in ourselves and others, and our emotions are often in response to our experiences.  We experience emotions regarding the threats I outlined above.

If you are having emotional responses, if any aspects of our reality cause you to feel sad, or angry, or afraid, you might also be feeling some anxiety.  Anxiety is one of your body’s natural responses to stress. It’s a heightened state wherein your adrenal glands are activated, fueling your mind and body to respond to the stressor.  Sometimes anxiety is like an alarm, sometimes it’s like a massive storm.

There are a variety of techniques one can employ to reduce anxiety.  Pharmaceuticals is one.  Nutritional and/or herbal remedies can also be helpful.  Learning to regulate your nervous system through mindfulness and breathing is perhaps the most accessible since it doesn’t require a trip to the doctor or the store.

Relaxation & Finding Inner Teachings is a set of three audio recordings which lead the listener through a guided imagery experience designed to reduce anxiety and increase a sense of well-being.  If you have no experience with meditation or guided imagery, these are a great place to start.

If you are someone who already knows how to meditate or engage in deep relaxation, these tools can help you to reduce anxiety.  Knowing how to do something and remembering to do it, however, are two different things.  I encourage you to remember the tools you have, and to use them. You may already have at your disposal methods to make you feel better, even during these uncertain times.

Originally published at Baruch’s Blog.

“Hey Empaths!” by Baruch Zeichner, MA, NCC, LPC, LCMHC

Hey Empaths This Is For You!

by Baruch Zeichner, MA, NCC, LPC, LCMHC

The trick to not being emotionally laid low by the world is to differentiate between one’s personal challenges which one can effect, and the big “humanity sized” challenges which are rarely affected significantly by one person, and to adjust one’s responses accordingly.

We all face whatever local challenges we face, in relationships, work life, finances, etc.; whatever these happen to be. We are able to make choices in these arenas, more or less, depending on a number of variables including the cultural or societal, depending on where we live.

Then there are the big humanity sized issues that change more gradually, and usually through social movements.  These are very gradual, groups of humans effect change on the global scale at a much slower rate than we individuals do in our local scenarios.

I have experienced, and may other empathic people have told me similar stories, a lot of distress from and about the big human issues; our brutality, corruption, and all that stuff.  It can be painful to be aware of these things, and we now have awareness of so much of what happens in the world because of the internet and the ubiquitous devices bringing us information all the time.  It’s a bit much!

What I am learning is that if I separate out my personal local stuff from the big humanity sized stuff, when I am feeling most clear, I can choose to be aware of the big stuff and respond to it in whatever ways I choose, and not be laid low emotionally by all that, or at least be laid low emotionally less severely and less of the time.  If I focus on making my local situation as good as I can, and am fortunate to exist in a context where I can do that and appreciate that, it fuels my resilience for responding to the big stuff.

Responsibility, the ability to respond; if I can respond, especially in a creative or helpful way, however small, to the big issues, that also fuels my resilience in dealing with my local personal life issues.

People who are strongly empathic can find themselves experiencing empathy fatigue.  By working within ourselves we can reduce and maybe even prevent that.

Originally published at Baruch’s Blog.

“Relationships are Hard” by Jonathan Chiaravalle, MA, LPC

Relationships are Hard
by Jonathan Chiaravalle, MA, LPC

Even on the best of our days relationships with ourselves and the people that surround us can be difficult. Adding in the stressors of the pandemic makes it even more challenging. Below are three tools that can be helpful or reduce the damage to relationships. These are mainly focused on romantic partnerships however they can be applied to any relationship (children, work, neighbors, etc).

1. Take a break. I know the idea seems simple but in practice once our amygdala (the part of the brain that regulates fight, flight, freeze) fires off we are triggered and not our best selves. So, quickly say “I love you and I’ll be back in less than one hour.” and then go do something that is not affiliated with the triggering event. Go for a walk, read a book, chop wood, clean the house, sudoku, anything but think about the event so your brain and nervous system can reset. Then you can bring your best self back to the conversation and relationship.

2. Check in frequently but briefly with your partner and others in your life. We are around each other all the time so an extended check in can seem daunting or annoying. However three brief check-ins a day to say I love you, I hope your day is going well and exchange a quick authentic kiss or touch (you know the ones I mean, the kisses and touches that say I love you, not I am just doing this because someone said so). Start on a positive note and end on a positive note. Don’t make it into a gripe session. Just check-in so you can receive and provide support as needed.

3. Learn the love languages. 5 Love Languages Taking the quiz or reading the book can give you some great ideas for helping fill yours and your partner’s love tanks. They can even be translated to children, work, neighbors, etc. We are often exhausted these days so we need to get the best return on our loving gestures and the love languages increases the likelihood of this. And most people will welcome some loving connection. If that isn’t happening it might be time to find some couples counseling to work through the wounds and issues between people. More resources can be found at Present Tense Relating Resources

I am Jonathan Chiaravalle and I’ve been working in the field of relationships, gender and sexuality for the past 30 years. I believe relationships are the most important thing on the planet and we all need to do our best with them. Please make sure they are safe and consensual in all aspects.