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June 5, 2020 Living Life with Purpose and Vitality in Challenging Times: Dr, Jelena Kecmanovic, PhD.,

06/30/2020 2:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Living Life with Purpose and Vitality in Challenging Times:  Dr, Jelena Kecmanovic, PhD., shared ways to strengthen our psychological resilience and perhaps even grow during these unprecedented times of the Coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Kecmanovic is the Founder and Director, Arlington/DC Behavior Therapy Institute and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University.

Here are several takeaways from the presentation provided by Patricia Clark, the Chair of the Program Committee of the Greater Washington/Baltimore ARCRA Group:

  • We have been thrown out of our “everydayness”.  So many things have changed.  It is not surprising that a person might feel anxious or worried or stressed.  In fact, it is very normal.  It is not something to feel guilty about or apologize for.  We have experienced multiple losses:  schedules, routines, social interactions, building relationships, maintaining relationships, anticipated current and future plans, distancing from children/grandchildren and, for some, loss of health.  There is no need to feel guilty about your feelings.
  • This situation also provides us with some great opportunities to use these changes to learn more about ourselves and to reflect and grow, find ways to appreciate the “new” normal and to identify and name things we are grateful for.  This can be a discipline—and it is helpful to do it routinely.  Pick a time (before bed, first thing in the morning, etc.) and take time to identify three to five things for which you are grateful.  This is a surprisingly effective exercise.  These can be big or small things—but it is helpful to identify and think about them.
  •  Something that is helpful is to find a way to “contain or manage” your worry or anxiousness and not let it rule your day.  One technique is to create a Worry Jar—or it could be a list on paper or on your phone.  Every time you find yourself thinking about something that bothers or worries you, write the thought on a piece of paper.  Put it in the jar.  Schedule 30 minutes each day to go through the jar and worry over everything in it.  Then—at the end of that time—allow yourself to move back into a less emotionally burdensome mind-set.  You are not ignoring your worries.  They are important and you made time for them, but they do not creep into your life constantly.  You are controlling your response to them.
  • Another helpful approach is to use the concept of mindfulness.  While this started in many of the ancient religions and practices, it has become a growing area of emphasis in our society.  Many meditation courses and writings abound and the practice of yoga incorporates mindfulness.  The concept is to quiet yourself and be very purposeful and deliberate in focusing on the present moment—not what happened earlier or what else is going on around you or what might happen in the future.  This can be sitting quietly, doing breathing exercises, getting lost in some beautiful music—whatever focuses you on the here and now.
  • Writing is something that many people find helpful.  Keep a journal and put your thoughts down on paper or take a creative approach and convert them into a prayer or a poem or freestyle verse.

It is possible to come out of this situation knowing more about yourself and finding helpful ways to grow and learn.  Remember the importance of self-compassion.  We all are dealing with some very unique and challenging times.

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