The Stress is Real and You Can Get Through It

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Therapy dog Chica Roemer
Therapy dog Chica Roemer

I don't know if it's the same for you, but Week 3 of social distancing and #SaferatHome has gotten a little old in my household. The initial novelty of working from home and having breakfast, lunch and dinner (and snacks … so, so many snacks) with my husband has lost its early glow. Even therapy dog Chica is weary of her human roommates and seems to relish alone time.

Yet, the positive impact of our collective effort is evident. To keep that trajectory flattened, it's likely you and I (and Chica) will have bear a few more weeks of this: this isolation, this one-day-same-as-the-last, this uncertainty about what comes next.

In psychological and spiritual terms, this time is called the liminal space. It's when life seems to pause and we sit in a limbo of sorts, almost like we're in a cosmic waiting room, pacing and watching the clock as we wait for something to happen. Waiting is hard … ask any 6-year-old. The distance between what we want and what is seems tangible, but still out of reach. The stress of uncertainty should not be underestimated. It puts our body in a mild, but chronic flight or fight response.

There are also very real, very significant stressors brought about by this experience. Many of us or our loved ones are working in the healthcare and public safety fields and risk exposure daily. Many have found that their jobs are considered ‘non-essential' and now have to figure out how pay the bills. And many find themselves trying to balance roles of employee/student/home-school teacher. The bottom line? This experience is stressful, no matter your circumstances.

There's lots of advice out there about how to manage stress, but ultimately the best stress relievers are the ones that work for you. A few things have helped me bear the uncertainty of the past three weeks; I'm sharing them in hopes they are helpful to you too:

  1. Find ways to connect with others. Technology offers many options for this, but so does talking across the street or out your window to your neighbors. If you are struggling to connect with someone during this time, NWTC Counseling Services is offering a virtual support group where you can share your thoughts and feelings with others who are seeking support as well.
  2. Take care of your body. This includes showering, eating regularly (and healthfully when able) and moving. There is a reason people in waiting rooms pace; movement is an outlet for anxiety.
  3. Go easy on yourself. Have you even been in a pandemic before? Me neither. Hold yourself accountable but keep your expectations reasonable.
  4. Find meaning where you can. If you are in a helping profession, you are already providing immeasurable service to our community and we are so lucky to have your service. If helping isn't your profession, there are still many ways to be of service to others including the people in your circle. Find a way to make a difference, even if it seems small. As Mother Theresa said, "We can't all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love."

Now more than ever is the time for small things. We've seen how those small acts, like staying home, are making a difference in our community and our state. Small things can make a difference in our daily lives too. What small thing can you do to make a difference for yourself or someone else today?

NWTC counselors continue to provide virtual services throughout this time. To make an appointment with an NWTC Counselor, please call 920-498-5507 or email


Judith Roemer
Judith Roemer
Licensed Professional Counselor

Simple things, like hiking, biking, being in my garden, or really anything I can do outside bring me the most joy. Even in the coldest of seasons, there is beauty to be found. I also love traveling with my husband and daughter, cooking, reading, spending time with family and friends, and focusing on a lifestyle that keeps me and my family healthy. The intersection of nutrition and mental health is a particular interest of mine, and the subject of many books on my nightstand.

I love being a counselor. I feel privileged to hear people’s stories – even the incredibly sad ones – and help them discover their own resilience and strength in the face of adversity. It is an honor to be allowed into someone’s inner world and join with them in the healing process. I work well with individuals who have experienced trauma, loss, and violence; those who struggle with mood issues or learning disabilities; individuals impacted by domestic violence; people struggling with anxiety; and individuals experiencing changes in their lives. Some days I have a partner in the office. Her name is Chica, and she is a 12-year-old, mixed breed dog who enjoys the snacks and extra attention that come with trips to the office. If you see us in the hallway, please stop to say hello! She is a Canine Good Citizen which means she welcomes hellos, pets, and any food you may be willing to part with.

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