Spring is in the Air, so COVID-19 Has to Share

No one can take away our spring!!  It is that time of year that we have long been waiting for; the warmth of the sun, the popping of greens, the airborne freshness and fragrance of the season – a delight to our souls. 

Being outdoors is a huge benefit to mental health.  For the most part, through COVID 19 and during this Minnesota’s late winter, we have become destined as indoor creatures. As our brains have attempted to survive isolation with these long cold days, many of us have turned to exploring and operating technological advances.   However, as time has gone on, many of us have sunk into the grasp of these operative systems.  We have lost control and now suffer with its innumerable phone calls, time warps with computer over-indulgence and extended TV/movie successions, and then there are the inundating  tagalongs of sequential advertisements from all over, paperwork, political inquiries, fund raising requests; and all sorts of overwhelming information.  What happens to the brain with all this chaos?  It becomes frazzled, or exhausted, or drained, and weary.  It sinks into an android-like state, quivering and drooling, and half-stumped over.  What does it need?  It needs the outdoors!!  Especially in the spring!!  Enough of this swarm to this technological magnet! 

Going outside seems to be a natural remedy.  It reduces mental fatigue and washes away stress, at least for a while.   In fact, just 20-30 minutes a day outside in nature can meaningfully reduce cortisol levels and lower your stress level.  Spending time in nature has also been shown to improve symptoms of depression or prevent it from occurring.  And, of course, there is the sun – the natural light that has been shown to be beneficial, not even to improved moods but now studies point to higher self-esteem, especially when combined with outside exercise.  Getting a breath of fresh air, being in the sun, feeling the warm breeze, watching the season of life begin again; a true stress-reliever! 

Yet, we have to share this spring with COVID-19!!  No parks or recreational areas are open, walking is done mostly in isolated places, and no scurrying about with others as we see distant masked faces looking away to avoid contamination.  So, how do we sustain our mental health with the disappointment of limited access to the air we breathe and the outdoors we cherish this time of year?  Well, like it or not, we bulldoze ourselves right through.  That’s how!!  There is room in the air for both!!   We draw up some plans to help us get through.  We find some ways to make it work.  We can’t ignore either the reality of COVID-19 and the need for good mental health by being outside.  This is a big world.  We can do both.  COVID-19 just needs to share ‘cuz spring is in the air and good mental health is a key!!

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Life as it Could be with COVID-19

As time passes, we become weighed in with the reality of it all.  This virus, as has been the case for so many contagions before us, could last for much longer than we had initially anticipated.  It may become a way of life for a while.  Working on managing the virus with social distancing, wearing masks/gloves, and being home-bound may be the beginning of a long process.  How do we move beyond interrupted anxiety about “what could happen?”; or lingering isolation with deepening loneliness and depression; or ongoing family or relationship conflicts with no individual space; or heightened stress about how to pay the bills or put food on the table?

How do we endure?  How do we use this time as a way to challenge ourselves with what we actually can change?  As well, how can we embrace our suffering so it doesn’t overcome us?  Indeed, it would be quite the challenge to allow ourselves to suffer without being run over by our negative thoughts and fears, much less the certainty of the realness of this crisis.  

What is it inside of us that brings ourselves to a sense of calm when the world is spinning around us?  Of course, it can be denying or minimizing the true effect of the spinning.  But beyond this, what characteristics or values or beliefs or vision does one hold to truly not give way to all of the chaos around us?

Is it a sense of who we are or how we define ourselves that makes a difference, or how we put together the real meaning of life?  Maybe a goal is to have an internal locus of control vs. reacting to what happens outside of ourselves.  Maybe it is redefining our purpose that drives us throughout our lifetime, regardless of the circumstances that befall upon us.  Maybe it is a time to turn in and look at what shapes our own principles or values, and sense of resolve, or true Faith beyond ourselves that gives us resolution?     Maybe that is what will help us endure – coming back to our roots; asking ourselves what life is supposed to be all about.  Maybe that is the way we can challenge ourselves with what we can actually change – a sense of serenity during a time of chaos.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Need a Job During COVID-19? Consider Working at a Nursing Home

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you and your family?

The answer to this question is often complicated. Many of us find ourselves out of work and unable to leave our homes or visit with family and friends.

Isolation is difficult for many people to deal with, and losing your only source of income can put added stress into an already stressful situation. Fortunately, we’ve got an answer to both of these problems.

Keep reading to learn why you should consider working at a nursing home.

Top-Notch Pay and Perks

At St. William’s Living Center, we offer competitive pay and an excellent benefits package. During this pandemic, you don’t need the added stress of worrying about health care coverage for you and your family. At St. William’s we offer affordable health insurance to our employees including options for dental and vision coverage.

Our employees receive paid time off (PTO) which begins accruing on the day you start work. We also offer every employee a life insurance policy and we contribute to retirement accounts. If you’re considering moving up in the nursing field, we offer scholarships to continue your education and further your career.

Healthcare Jobs are Recession-Proof

One worrisome aspect of the global pandemic is not knowing what will happen with the economy. Fortunately for healthcare workers, our jobs are normally recession-proof. No matter what the economy looks like at the end of this pandemic, there will always be a need for people to take care of others.

With the threat of COVID-19 looming, it’s more important than ever that we have a full staff at St. William’s. By ensuring we have plenty of healthy workers to take care of our residents, we can prevent coronavirus infections and ultimately save lives.

Lots of Available Opportunities

You don’t have to be experienced or have an advanced degree to work at the nursing home. We currently have openings for housekeeping, resident support, dietary aides, and cooks. These openings are both part-time and full-time and we have temporary or permanent work options available.

If you’re interested in starting a new career in the nursing industry, we will help you get started by registering you for classes to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). If you already have a degree, we’re actively looking for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and mental health workers.

Make a Difference In Your Community

Helping others in the community is an excellent way to keep up morale. If you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19, working at the nursing home might be just what you need to stay healthy and active. There’s never a boring day when you’re caring for others.

You’ll know at the end of the day, you made a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. That’s a great feeling!

Start a Rewarding Career Working at a Nursing Home

Whether you’re looking for temporary work or a career change, working at a nursing home is an option for you! At St. William’s Living Center, we care about our residents and employees first and foremost, and we’re doing everything we can to keep everyone safe and happy.

Visit our Careers Page today to find out what jobs are available and how to apply. We’re always here to answer questions, so feel free to call us anytime!

Seniors Facing COVID-19

Putting yourself in the seat of a senior, what would it feel like to be constantly reminded about the fear of contracting COVID-?  While facing the reality that grave illness or death for themselves or their friends may be just around the corner, the curve of anxiety takes a steep turn upwards.  Not only is the mind turning various possibilities of “What if’s”, they are also more prone to constant worrying, sleeping and eating problems, concentration difficulties, increased irritability and frustration, and likely fear the worst-case scenarios – all symptoms of clinical anxiety; and all normal in the face of a pandemic. 

On top of this, seniors, as is the case for most Americans, are authorized to isolate themselves or practice social distancing during the course of this virus.  Overall, seniors struggle significantly more with isolation compared to the general population.   As isolation persists as a constant, loneliness oftentimes begets depression.   Being alone can be debilitating, with a high suicide rate among those over 65, noting that 18% of all suicide deaths are from the elderly population.  Depression among the elderly oftentimes shows itself with common symptoms, including staying in bed and sleeping too much or too little, not eating well, losing interest in a usual routine, having little energy to do even pleasurable activities, postponing contact with others, and of course isolating.  Actually, if you have visited your area nursing home or senior living facilities, it is evident that there is an epidemic of loneliness among its residents.

On the flip side, not only do seniors isolate themselves when depressed, the truth is that they are isolated as a forgotten generation while the rest of the world stays busy with all its distractions.  Their isolation comes from within as well as in a large part, prompted by the reality of being left behind as an after-thought or one of the last “things to do” on their adult children’s “to do” list. Isolation is a daily reality for most seniors, and likely much more so with the COVID-19 virus.

As we all face being home-bound, missing our friends and those family members not living with us, isolated in a sense from normal living, let’s pause and empathize with those seniors that live like this as a matter of routine.  Reach out and connect.  Seniors need the support, comfort, and alliance during this difficult time.  They are a special generation of people with strong values and faith, hardy by history, and have been our leaders and role models for the generations after them.  They are next in line as the lost generation.  Let us respect, appreciate and value their worth, and keep them in your thoughts and prayers.  Now that life hurriedness has taken a stop with quarantine for most of us, let us take time and reflect on what really is important.  Reach out and virtually touch a senior, including those that are isolated as well as those more vulnerable and are especially dealing with heightened anxiety and depression.  If you were sitting in their seat, isn’t that what you would want?  

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Mental Health Professional

St. Williams Mental Health Services

What About the Kids?

How are kids dealing with the CoVid-19?  Being locked down is a difficult proposition, but especially for our kids.  Kids are used to playing with their friends, being active, going to school and not necessarily focusing on world events as their parents are.  I mean, it is their parents’ job, right? Not there’s.  However, don’t be fooled.  With Co-VID-10, those of smaller stature have experienced their worlds as having been turned upside down these past few weeks.

First, they are home-bound.  They have limited access with their friends and only through electronic means.  Their only companions are their siblings which in reality can be quite skirmish and combative.  They are limited to their back yard, if they have one and it is not snowing and cold.  The news of the virus is on nearly 24/7 on many channels.  The resounding “Breaking News” numerates many times a day, and oftentimes parents are glued to the updates to prepare for the next surge of action.  But “what about the kids?”. 

Even when parents try to fake it, kids feel it in their bones when their parents feel anxious, frustrated, belabored or depressed.  That is the nature of kids.  Their connection to their parents is intuitive.  It can’t be seen or heard, but it is there.  They feel what their parents feel.  They may express it or react differently than their parents, but kids feel there is definitely something in the air! They watch their parents watch the news and the tension draws deeply inside them.  They watch their parents, the leaders of their world, struggle.

Kids also have their own reaction to the crisis besides dealing with their parents’ reaction.  They are out of their element.  Instead of playing or doing homework after school while supper is being made, they are at home all of the time.  They can no longer be distracted by reality.  They have nightmares or feel that zombies are living in their basement.  They may regress and act younger than they are.  They may be clingier, or cry more, or have more outbursts.  It’s their way of saying that they are not doing well.  Expressing their fears verbally is just not their nature at their young ages.

What do kids need?  Lots of love, and patience, and understanding, and reassurance, and a walk-through of their fears to help them better understand that things will eventually return to normal.  They need guidance and leadership.  They need a parent who will help them pick up the pieces and encourage them to be resilient, look at positives, and allow their parents to handle the burdens.  What about the kids?  Their mind is not yet developed and their understanding of this crisis is warped by the emotion of it all.  Be there for them.  Help them know that this will soon pass.  Give them hope.  Give them your attention.  Having kids stay at home could be a hidden blessing as they are around their most influential people to help them get through this crisis.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Psychotherapist

How Are We All Doing?

Well, the sun is still shining.  Spring is on its way-….and, we are nearly homebound as we continue to face CoVID-19. 

So much is happening:

  • You may be infected or a carrier, or know someone that is
  • You may be home-bound, either voluntarily or by government order
    • Restricted from going to bars, restaurants, or any entertainment venues
    • Home with the kids and likely in charge of helping the children understand why the crack-down, facilitating home-schooling options, making entertainment opportunities in the house, dealing with siblings’ conflicts, rule and chore enforcement, and household management
    • All alone and isolated
  • You are not able to see those that are vulnerable and elderly in nursing homes, assisted living, and those in senior living due to the risk of exposure
  • You are either unemployed and receiving unemployment compensation or engaged in your employment, exposing you to the risk of infection or a carrier of such
  • You are aware of many small venues closing their doors with their own financial losses due to a lack of customers
  • You have lost much of your retirement or monies held in the stock market with a look at what life may now be like without that added cushion.
  • You realize that life will not be the same once this has all passed.

So, how are most of us trying to deal with all of this?

  • Stress is the new normal, for all of the reasons above
    • Fear and worry about your health and the health of loved ones
    • Sleeping and eating changes
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
    • Panic reactions
    • Catastrophizing further than what is warranted
  • The sun is still shining; this too shall pass

So, what kinds of things can you do to support yourself:

  • Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.  Of course, this is limited to phone, social media platforms or any other non-direct efforts
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can cause further anxiety and panic.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities and you are having difficulty functioning
  • When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel better.
  • And, remember; the sun is still shining.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW