Stressful Times in the COVID-19 World

Hi everyone. We know that there is a lot of information out there these days that is very scary – especially if you have an anxiety disorder. But, in the word of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic.”

How do you survive the COVID-19 scare? Follow these simple tips and see how you feel.

1. Get your information from reliable sources ONLY. Use the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

2. Check information on the virus only once per day. Otherwise, it will just be overwhelming. Limit your screen time to all fo this as it is just overwhelming to be inundated with so much information, much of which is speculation.

3. Avoid conversations that start with, “You know, I heard that they said….” Who THEY is in these conversations is suspect, so best to just walk away.

4. Wash your hands when you come in from being out in public. Now, this is different than we have ever suggested to people with OCD in the past, where we would suggest to delay or even not wash hands, but with the CDC recommendations as they are, a 20 second hand wash when coming home is fine, More than 20 seconds is getting into OCD territory if you have OCD, and if you do not, more than 20 seconds actually can do more harm than good, as it starts to wash off oils from your hands, and that is going to lead to your hands getting dry and chapped and then you could increase the chance of getting some type of contamination.

5. Clean surfaces in your home. If you do not leave your home, no need to do this daily. If surfaces are touched by things from outside, a quick wipe down will suffice. No need to spend hours here doing that.

6. BE good examples for your children and put on a good face. Do not scare them more by your own fears.

7. Take advantage of the family time you are given with schools closing and work from home options.

8. Start to buy baby items, because in 9 to 10 months we are going to see a spike in new born babies.

9. Be nice to others in stores. There is panic buying going on – reminds me of Y2K actually. So, be kind to others.

10. If you are in need of help, we have therapists at Anxiety Centers of Illinois who are ready to assist you. Reach out to us and let us help.

Best to you.

Patrick B. McGrath, Ph.D.

President, Anxiety Centers of Illinois

Holiday Enjoyment

Ah the holidays – a time of fun and a time of frustration as well. Do we buy the right gift? Are we going to be able to see all of the family members? If not, will they be disappointed, and if they are how will we make that right?

A few things that have happened in my family to make the holidays easier.

1.  We got rid of the grab bag. It was a hassle, and it was a lot of money. Now we pick a theme and have a limit of $15 or $20 dollars and that is even more fun because now you can see what others got and steal gifts from each other. Everyone ends up with something, but you never really know until the very end what it might be.

2.  The party is when the host says it is. If you can make it, great and if not, then that is OK too. You can send food or gifts if you like, but at least give a call while the party is going on and we will all get to chat. That way, everyone will be involved in some way.

3.  Doing some charity. Our family will be donating time to a food bank this year to help pack meals that will get sent around the world. We will all get to be together and do a good work at the same time.

4. Finally, enjoy some time alone. Yes, it is a time to connect with friends and family, but it can also be a time to get in touch with yourself as well. Enjoy the chance to just have some quiet time, maybe watch a movie, and have a great meal. Enjoy yourself.

If you have any fun ideas for the holidays, please use this forum to share. Have a great end to 2015 and a wonderful 2016.





When Stress is Just Too Much
to Handle

stress2This may just be the time that help is necessary, so let’s talk about that for a minute. Asking for help is not easy, and finding the right help is even more difficult. So, where do you go?

At Anxiety Centers of Illinois (ACI) our goal is to give you the help that you need for the stressors that you experience. We focus on your anxiety and stress. All of our therapists are trained in assisting you to fully face your fears and learn ways to handle anxiety that are really helpful. Our therapists will not tell you things such as,”Just don’t think about it,” or, “You’ll be fine.” If those types of phrases worked, then there would be no need for anyone to be in treatment. Instead, we will work with you to develop a plan to specifically do the things that you fear. Starting with your lowest level fears, we will work to desensitize you to the emotions and physical sensations that bother you, allowing you to see that you can handle what you are afraid of or what stresses you.

Once you learn that you can handle small level fears, we will work toward exposing you to higher level fears until you are facing your main fears and stressors. We can do this with you or you can also have support people involved in your sessions.

We want to be sure that the work that you are doing is quick, efficient, and economical. Our goal is not to keep you in therapy forever – we want you to learn your tools to face your stressors and then go out and live your life. We are always available for booster sessions if you need them, but many of our patients are able to go back to their lives after 10 to 15 sessions and they require very little work with us when they leave, as long as they continue to practice the tools that we taught them.

So, feel free to set up an appointment with one of our therapists and allow us to help you to face your fears.