Meet Amanda Smith, BetterHelp therapist for Becoming Us

Kristin Karaoglu · October 6, 2020 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/5100

Amanda will facilitate the October sessions focused on work, life, balance

October is here and Becoming Us will be focused on "Work, life, balance" for that month's sessions. Becoming Us, brought to you by BetterHelp, is a group session designed to help us articulate our emotions to better understand how to become better people as we navigate through this journey toward the new normal - whatever that even means - because every day is a new challenge. 

Group sessions are a great way to share stories about how we're dealing with certain struggles. Think about the success of AA.

REGISTER HERE: Becoming Us

For these sessions, a BetterHelp therapist will open up with an overview of the particular topic. A moderator will, mostly me, will ask people to share their stories that relate to the topic, or the group can ask questions, make comments or just listen. This is about you sharing your stories as a cathartic way to understand your situation and as a way to help others as they can relate to your story, and maybe even be inspired by what you share. 

Q: What are the top challenges for people trying to balance work and life?

A. Generally speaking, this is a common issue that comes up regularly in my practice since I started providing counseling services. It's something that we all experience on some level with certain times being more challenging than others. The top challenges that are often brought up in counseling sessions seem to be focused around parenting, family relationships, time management, and difficulty navigating interpersonal relationships with colleagues. Issues related to childcare are usually a major focus as it requires families to determine roles and responsibilities. Even with excellent childcare provisions in place, there are times that all parents experience scheduling conflicts with work. Being responsible for other people naturally affects our work/life balance from time to time. People have also reported feeling conflicted about how to use their time most effectively to best support their families. Providing financial stability and ensuring resources is often pinned against spending quality time and forming strong healthy bonds with family members. It can be difficult to define value and strategically meet both of these needs at the same time. I have seen this manifest as feelings of guilt associated with working during certain holidays or missing out on family events or milestones. Hard-working, passionate, and driven people tend to have a hard time taking off work. When these same people feel passionate and driven in their relationships, it can create quite a dilemma.

Q: How has COVID made it a bigger challenge? 

A:  Many of the people that I see for counseling have been struggling with finding a balance between work and life. While everyone's situation and circumstances are different due to age, family roles, and career paths, they have all been impacted in some way. One of the most common challenges for individuals who parent younger children has been adjusting to educational changes that have brought on significant scheduling issues and expanded their parenting roles. Even those parents who can work from home have still found it difficult to monitor and engage their children throughout the day while still being available and accessible in their work life. 

I have also noticed a lot of people have been struggling with feeling isolated from some of their usual recreational activities and hobbies. It's amazing how much we rely on the little things in life to get us through. Even something as simple as being able to sit on the couch and watch sports makes a difference in terms of our mood and managing our stress. I think we are starting to see recognize how much we may have taken certain things for granted and it's important for us to try to find joy wherever we can. 

Q: How has COVID made it easier?

A: One of the biggest silver linings to come out of this global pandemic has been our overall resilient ability to adapt. Crisis often begets creative solutions, and the whole world has had to figure out how to make things work on the fly. Technology competence and use have increased tremendously with even those who considered themselves to be "technologically challenged" having to jump in and work to grow. Many companies have realized that most jobs can be done remotely. This has reduced travel and transportation issues in the workplace and has expanded job opportunities into broader communities. The advancement of telehealth has also been a lifesaver and game-changer during this time. Many doctors who were initially hesitant about providing care through telehealth have now embraced this form of communication and report that they will continue using elements of telehealth in their practices indefinitely. Many of the people that I counsel say that parts of their job has improved and advanced due to increased exploration and use of technology. 

Q: To say "work, life, balance" is to suggest those two things are imbalanced, which can create anxiety in and of itself. How should we view work, life, balance?

A. This is an interesting and excellent point. From a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy standpoint, the way we think affects the way we feel and how we act. If our inner narrative preemptively suggests that work and life are imbalanced then we are going to have a tough time moving away from that mindset. However, there is also something to be said about awareness. It is important to consistently assess our daily life activities in order to recognize where we may need to make a few changes or adjustments. It's important for us to acknowledge the fact that work and life are sometimes imbalanced without getting overwhelmed with the feeling that this cannot be changed. From my experience supporting individuals with anxious symptoms, the best way to handle this dilemma is to change our narrative. If we can become more flexible in our thinking it will help to regulate our emotions and foster healthy motivation to change. For example, instead of thinking of work and life as being either "balanced" or "imbalanced", if we can remind ourselves that its all on a fluid spectrum it can help keep us from feeling stuck and incapable of making any positive changes. 

Q: How do you find work, life, balance?

A. I like to practice being intentional with and integrating self-care practices into my workday. I have found that is always some small simple way to find a little bit of that balance even in the midst of high chaos. The trick is to find the balance in the small things. If our definition of self-care is too limited, it can be difficult to recognize the way that we take care of ourselves every day. Self-care doesn't have to be some big, grand, elaborate, time-consuming experience. I try to incorporate self-care in my workday by doing small things, like taking a short break to go outside and get some fresh air, making a 30-second phone call to check in on family,  or taking two minutes to make a cup of tea in my favorite mug in between meetings. Something as simple as using my favorite pen to take notes often makes a world of difference. When my work life starts to feel overwhelming, I try to start small and intentionally integrate things that bring me joy as often as possible. 

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Kristin Karaoglu

Woman of many skills: Database System Engineer; SplashX event producer; Author of Startup Teams

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