Whatever you’re feeling right now, it’s okay. You have the right to feel your emotions and no one should tell you those emotions are not real. In this episode, Arlene talks with Dr. Kelly Holder for timely and practical suggestions on maintaining positive mental health. She talks about how ALL emotions are valid and there are things we can do to address them healthily. But it’s not only adults who need emotional validation, even our children do. However, we can struggle to get youngsters to talk about their feelings. But don’t give up, Kelly shares the secret to reaching their hearts so they can open up. On top of that, Kelly also lists 3 Stress Reduction Techniques to help us get through this pandemic and adjust to the “new normal.” Listen in now. Also, listen to Kelly when she was our guest in Episode 9 of Mindset Meets Mastery.
“Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel how you feel. And then extend it to someone else.” -Dr. Kelly Holder
00:24 Facing Our New Reality
06:17 Feelings of Uncertainty- Is It Real?
08:15 Validate Feelings
13:55 How To Get Your Kids To Talk About Their Feelings
18:43 3 Buckets For The “New Normal”
23:33 The Benefits of Journaling
26:17 Exercise Mindsets
Starting to feel a mix of emotions after being cooped up for so long? Tune in as @arlene_gale and @KellyDHolder discuss stress reduction techniques! #BookWritingBusiness #BusinessBuildingBooks #covid19 #newnormal #emotionalvalidation #language… Click To Tweet
07:09 “All feelings are valid. Once we understand this, we have to also realize that not everyone will get that.” -Dr. Kelly Holder
07:35 “We can’t invalidate or take away someone else’s feelings about a situation.” -Dr. Kelly Holder
08:24 “When we are able to validate somebody else’s feelings, we build a connection with them.” -Dr. Kelly Holder
09:47 “When we suppress our emotions, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to more hurt, or worse, even not fully understanding ourselves.” -Dr. Kelly Holder
10:28 “Joy cannot be had unless one has fully experienced the human experience, which includes some suffering and pain.” -Dr. Kelly Holder
16:46 “When someone is sharing their emotions, it’s key to remember: Just listen, don’t try to fix.” -Arlene Gale
28:11 ““Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel how you feel. And then extend it to someone else.” -Dr. Kelly Holder
Connect with Dr. Kelly:
Dr. Kelly Holder is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Instructor of Mental Health First Aid, and Director of the Office of Student Mental Health and Counselling at Penn State University. Dr. Holder brings years of experience in multiple clinical settings including community mental health, private practice and college counseling. Her goal is to help others improve their well-being and quality of life. She emphasizes the power of making connections in overcoming mental illness, especially during critical times. When things are off-target, Dr. Holder can help bring back the motivation in you.
Arlene Gale: Hi everybody, today, we’re talking about the mindsets and myths about our feelings, and coping with the uncertainty during this time in our lives, and also our need for self compassion. But before we jump into that, think about the things that you were looking forward to four or five months ago. Maybe it was the growth of your business or starting a new job. Maybe it was conferences or workshops that you were attending, or maybe that you were leading. And then maybe you had some things you were looking forward to personally like high school, college, or even kindergarten graduation. People were talking about summer vacations and family reunions. There’s so much more that we were looking forward to as we went about our quote unquote normal day to day lives just a few short months ago, whatever it was that you were looking forward to in January though, I’d be willing to bet that this shelter in place and this virus were not part of that, that vision is not what’s happening today. But what we’re into today is our new reality. During this time, many people are feeling things that they never felt before, or maybe they’re feeling things that they felt before but they didn’t really like and now those feelings are rearing their ugly little heads. And then there are those of us who are sharing our feelings with friends and family and they’re telling us that our feelings aren’t valid or it’s not the end of the world. Well, we have to cope with that too. So to help us to understand and to cope with our feelings for however long this situation lasts.
Today, I’m talking to Dr. Kelly Holder who is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She’s a certified Mental Health First Aid and director of the office of student mental health and counseling at Penn State University. Dr. Holder brings years of experience in multiple clinical settings including community mental health, private practice and college counseling. Her goal is to help others improve their well-being and their quality of life. She emphasizes the power of making connections and overcoming mental illness especially during critical times like these.
So welcome, first of all, Dr. Kelly Holder, how are you doing today?
Dr. Kelly Holder: I’m doing well. Thank you for having me.
Arlene Gale: Well, great. Well, I just want to share with my friends that Dr. Kelly Holder, as you have now heard her expertise, she’s a brilliant woman, but you know, she’s just like the rest of us. So I’m going to humanize you for a minute. Can I challenge you that way?
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yes. I think it’s most appropriate that you just address me as Kelly because that’s who I am.
Arlene Gale: She is Kelly. Kelly, my husband has taken over my office because he’s working at home now. My son and I are doing our own work, sitting across from each other, either in the kitchen, or the dining room, or on the living room sofa. So you’re dealing with some of these same things too in your household, aren’t you?
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yeah, I am, I am. I transitioned homes, I do all my work from home, I also have three kids. My oldest is 13, I have a 10 year old, and an eight year old who are all supposed to be in school at home, and I’m supposed to be supporting that education. I’m doing the best that I can. My spouse is a physician and so he’s not going into the hospital as much. In fact, most physicians, if they can reduce their exposure are doing that as much as possible, but he’s still seeing patients and still going in and then doing as much as he can from home when he can.
Arlene Gale: Well, thank him and this was a good time for us to thank from the bottom of our hearts, all the people who are on the front lines like the doctors, and nurses, and firefighters, and police officers, and the people at the food banks who are handing out boxes of food. Everybody who’s out on the front lines, thank you, thank you, thank you. Because it would be so much harder without you. So be safe and I hope that you’ve had to make some adjustments personally because your doctor is, or your husband is a physician, right?
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yeah. And because he is a physician and he’s going in, we’ve made a conscious choice from the beginning that we’re going to follow the physical distancing recommendations that were made and we went an extra step. I have older parents so I haven’t gotten close to them at all because we don’t want to carry anything to them just in case we are asymptomatic and happen to be carriers of this CoronaVirus. So that adds an extra burden when you’re wondering whether you’re a carrier or not. It makes you want to stay physically away from more people with having those thoughts.“When someone is sharing their emotions, it’s key to remember: Just listen, don't try to fix.” -Arlene Gale Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: Right. So I think it’s fair to say we’ve established your credibility personally and professionally because you’re dealing with, and feeling the same things that everybody is feeling now. We feel those things in different ways. We handle and respond to those things in different ways. But let’s start with addressing this question because I see so many people on Facebook and social media who are sharing their feelings, and then people who evidently have too much time on their hands and don’t know how to use it productively or positively who diss them or poo-poo their feelings. So what words of wisdom can you give us or give those people who were dealing with that kind of conflict in their lives about whether their feelings are real or valid.“We can't invalidate or take away someone else's feelings about a situation.” -Dr. Kelly Holder Click To Tweet
Dr. Kelly Holder: Right, yeah. And I would say, before the pandemic, our feelings were valid. Our feelings are always valid. We get to feel however we feel, and people can disagree with how we feel and say, well, if I were you, I wouldn’t feel that way. But we all feel a certain way given a certain trigger or whatever’s happening. I think the first thing for us as individuals is to accept how we feel about things and know that those feelings are indicators about maybe some injustice, maybe some fear, maybe there’s a challenge that you need to overcome. Our feelings are signals about something changing or developing in our lives when we talk about both positive or what we experience as positive and negative feelings, but I think all feelings are valid. And once we understand those, we have to also realize that not everyone will get that. The hope is that people listen to your podcast and say, wait a minute, I can’t mediate somebody else’s feelings just because they say they feel it. I have to accept it because I’m not in their bodies, I haven’t lived their experience. So I guess that’s my long way of saying all feelings are valid. We can’t invalidate or take away someone else’s feelings about a situation.“All feelings are valid. Once we understand this, we have to also realize that not everyone will get that.” -Dr. Kelly Holder Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: So from both sides of the equation, is that good for somebody to share those feelings that they’re having? And what is a healthy response even if we don’t understand or we don’t like the feelings that the other person is sharing, can you talk about both sides of that equation?
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yeah, so when someone is sharing with us something that we don’t understand or we don’t really know about, and we want to really connect with them, and we want to really understand, there’s a lot of really good language tools we can use around it. I used the word validation a little while ago and I’m going to use it again because I think that one of these things I would call a super power. When we are able to validate somebody else’s feelings, we then build a connection with them. So validating does not mean that, Oh, I understand, I’ve been there, I’ve experienced it. Validation means, wow, I get proud you could feel like that. I might not know what that is like, but I really want to hear more because it sounds like this is really hard for you. Using words that help describe to that person your need to understand more, or even your, the sense that while you don’t know, you could get it if you had more time. So when someone shares something with you that’s hard, you could say things like, wow, I can’t even imagine what that would be like, or I don’t know what I would do if I were in that circumstance, or man, that sounds really challenging for you. I mean, those are really simple, but validating comments that let that person know, I get to feel the way that I do.“When we are able to validate somebody else's feelings, we build a connection with them.” -Dr. Kelly Holder Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: Is it okay to cry? Is it okay to be afraid? Is it okay to go through the grief process of something that you have lost, whether it’s personal or professional?“Joy cannot be had unless one has fully experienced the human experience, which includes some suffering and pain.” -Dr. Kelly Holder Click To Tweet
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yes, yes. It’s really important that we actually do those things. When we suppress our emotions, our feelings, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to more hurt, or worst case even not fully understanding our own selves, and not being able to be self reflective. One of my favorite words in the world is JOY. It’s my favorite word. It is my favorite word because I honestly believe that joy is a combination of pain or overcoming of suffering and this knowledge of hope for either the present or the future. Joy cannot be had unless one has fully experienced the human experience, which includes suffering and pain. And I bring that up because we’re talking about pain, to say that oftentimes people want to skip the suffering and say, well, just suck it up. You don’t have to do this. Just get on with your life, move on. If you don’t go through those feelings, you never get to joy. And joy, for those who have truly experienced joy, it is a mixed bag. It feels good, but it’s slightly painful at the same time. That’s what true joy really feels like, it’s not like happiness, it’s something else. So in order for us to have more joy in our lives, we’ve got to let the bad stuff be as it is and say, this is painful, I have to look this thing in the face and maybe cry, or express my feelings, or go through whatever my own process is in dealing with this challenging thing.“When we suppress our emotions, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to more hurt, or worse, even not fully understanding ourselves.” -Dr. Kelly Holder Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: I mean, that gave me goosebumps. It’s such a good personal reminder for me because they quote unquote little things going on in my life. I’ve got a senior in high school who’s missing all of these things that are rites of passage for someone his age. So I find myself laughing and crying almost instantaneously from one second to the next because on one hand, I’m so proud of him. I’m crying with pride and then on another hand, I’m crying because he’s missing these things. I feel a split personality and I feel like I’m going through these stages of grief. Please tell me, is that normal?
Dr. Kelly Holder: I think it is. I think there is normality to grieving, losing things that we have planned for that we have hoped for, that we have wanted. I think there’s a lot of normality to that. And the trouble sometimes is that we don’t allow ourselves to do that, or people in our lives don’t allow that to say, well, that’s so foolish. Why would you feel bad about it?
Arlene Gale: It’s not the end of the world.
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yeah. And while on one hand that is true, on the other hand, this is the stuff of my life, I have to meet myself where I am and grieve the losses that I experienced. I can’t grieve somebody else’s loss, I can only grieve my own loss. I should feel bad for you that you’ve lost it, but I have to grieve the stuff in my own life, and we have to allow that for each other, extend compassion to each other and say, I don’t know what that’s like for you, but I want to support you in feeling how you feel and going through that process so you can live your life out in a healthy way.
Arlene Gale: Absolutely. Well, what you just said triggered this question in my mind. When I think about my son and the things that he’s losing, I see it from a mother’s perspective and his dad sees it from a dad’s perspective. Do you have any tools, or ways to talk to, or ask questions that will validate? Well, first of all, we’ll get our children to talk to us about how they’re feeling, and then how as parents, we can validate those feelings in them. That may be a whole different podcast.
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yeah, because there’s a lot of pieces. Having someone talk to us really is based on relationships. I’m sure there’s some tools, and words, and phrases that are good to get someone to just start talking. But I think definitely when we’re talking about parent, child relationships, it’s important that we cultivate those relationships over time and they’re cultivated by the act of listening. The more a person listens, the more readily someone will want to talk. And the truth of the matter is that the person who has listened to typically always feels better, just because they were listened to. So making it a habit of doing, listening, asking open ended questions, and just listening and not coming back with a solution or solving a problem right away, maybe there is a problem to be solved. You can always come back with that later, but in the moment, just doing the listening will encourage lots more talking
Arlene Gale: Because some parents are afraid to ask questions of their children because they don’t want to upset them. How do you address something like that? What do you say about that?
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yeah, well, I as a psychologist, when I hear, asking a question, afraid you’re going to upset someone, sometimes if it’s a critical conversation that needs to be had, maybe it’s okay that the person is upset, maybe being upset as part of the process, maybe that’s content does bring up hurt feelings or charged emotion, and being ready and willing to sit through that and let that person know that it’s okay that this makes you upset. At the same time, this is something we really have to talk about so I can support you. If I ignore it, especially when we’re talking about parent/child relationships. If I ignore it, I’m teaching you to ignore it. Sometimes we have to have these painful dialogues where someone does become upset. And I think it means that we have to take the onus on ourselves to learn how to manage our own challenging emotions, so that we can model that for our children and support them when they have challenging emotions, especially around things that we really should talk about, that talking about it would be good and develop more health than a relationship, and more help for your child.
Arlene Gale: I think some of the things that you said, they really resonate with me. Do listen, don’t try to fix. I mean, I don’t know if anybody else has that problem, but those are great. I mean, even if anybody saw me looking down, it was because I was writing those words of wisdom. Just listen, don’t try to fix it because children are just little adults. I should tell people I’m not raising kids, I’m raising young adults. If our feelings are valid, then we should make the leap that their feelings are valid too.
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yeah.
Arlene Gale: So Kelly, we’re going to take a quick break, everybody stay with us, we’re going to come back and we’re going to see what kind of tools, or tips, and other wisdom that Dr. Kelly Holder has to share with us on dealing with the current situation of being locked in and being not normal.
Welcome back. My guest today is Dr. Kelly Holder and she is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. So Kelly, tell us what kind of words of wisdom that you have that might help us deal with this new normal. First of all, let me tell you, I think normal is severely overrated and I don’t want to be normal, I want to be extraordinary. Some days I’m just normal, but other days I think I feel more powerful than that. So what kind of words of wisdom can you share with us on that kind of philosophy?
Dr. Kelly Holder: Yeah, so I’ve been thinking about this because this is what I get to talk about in my work. So I’ll start with the first bucket. The first bucket of things is all around wellness stuff. This is the key to a good routine. Eating regularly, exercising, getting outside, making sure if you’re working from home that you have some confines, work begins now, work in at a certain time because work can run on and on when home is also work. Just all those wellness things, eating well, taking pride in your personal hygiene, especially because of the virus, and doing all of those things. First, there’s that wellness bucket, and that wellness bucket I would say is the foundation. It gives you sustainability. It’s the stuff that’s going to help you get up everyday and at least make something up the day. And that bucket is also good sleep hygiene is interesting. I read an article that most of us are all home, but sleep efficiency has gone down during this pandemic, and maybe it has to do with work, worry, anxiety, but we’re not sleeping well, I don’t know if we’re eating well. I hear a lot of people talking about all the snacks, but just that wellness bucket, the stuff we aspire to do on our best days are the things that can guard us and create a buffer zone for us. I would say that’s the first bucket.
And the second bucket, I would put things that are stress management techniques, beyond what was in the first bucket. So this means that if you feel your anxiety growing or your irritability growing as the days go on that you’re confined, we know that meditation practice helps with that. So it could be prayer, it could be regular meditation, I put journaling into that category because I journal daily and that’s a meditative process, coloring, doing art, playing music, making sure that you’re giving yourself this extra buffer around your stress management things because being confined in one space can increase your irritability. I’m here with three kids, and by the end of the day, my anxiety level just goes up. I feel really irritable, I don’t want anyone to speak to me. So one of the ways that I deal with it at the end of the day is when I cook, I play music, and I dance while I cook. And then the kids come in and they start to dance, and my husband comes in and he starts to dance, which is something, if y’all knew my husband that was, that’s something. So just this release of whatever the day was and releasing it, it helps. And then I guard the beginning of my day, that’s when I do my journaling. So having some stress management techniques and things that you can use on a regular basis. I know there’s a lot of online yoga classes that people are taking, and that can be really refreshing and break up that anxiety kind of stuff.
And then in the last bucket, I would say are tools and tips to deal with any problems you’ve already had in your home, but have escalated because of this virus. So if you’ve already had anxiety on board and we’re getting treatment for that, you want to up the ante on that. You are going to find an online therapist or may ask your therapist if they can go online, figure that out. Making sure you’re keeping up with your medications if that’s part of your regimen. If there was trouble in your family around communication skills, now’s not the time to ignore it. Maybe we decide, each day we’re going to spend some time sharing, or talking, asking, reaching out for help for some tools to deal with that thing. Because a lot of the problems we already had on board are beginning to escalate because we’ve been confined in our homes for at least four weeks. I know I’ve been home, this might be week number five. So making sure you’re caring for whatever things you already know or problem, increasing what you can do for that. So if I were to summarize, my three tips are, one, general wellness stuff. This is your health wealth kind of thing. Number two, making sure you have good stress reduction techniques that you are using on a regular basis that could go beyond regular wellness. And three, whatever the things are, you know what they are that have been challenges prior to being confined, you definitely want to work on those things because they could breed or get worse during this confinement period.
Arlene Gale: Some of the things you said, I’d like to comment on. Number one, you talked about journaling. Journaling is a great outlet. I’m a book writing coach, I teach people how to write, and so many people come to me saying, I want to write a book but I don’t know how to start, or I’m not a good writer. Well, like anything else, if you practice, you build those writing muscles and you get better, and better, and better. So journaling is great for self reflection and for release, but also to enhance or grow your writing skills. But journaling is not just for adults, get your children to journal also, and they will journal at an age appropriate level. Whatever they’re concerned about, they will talk about in their journals. And even if they’re not concerned about something, there are things that they can write about, what was the best part of their day? What was the worst part of the day? Maybe give them a prompt and everybody sit down, set a timer for two minutes and everybody sits around the table, and everybody writes their answer to that question. Don’t minimize the fact that journaling has an impact on your children, it’s something they can look back on in five or 10 years and go, wow, I didn’t remember that, but we handled that really well, or I handled that really well. Or yeah, maybe I didn’t handle it very well on that day, but on this day I did better. So journaling is a great tool for everybody. And if you have younger kids, give them a box of crayons and let them draw a picture of their day.
Dr. Kelly Holder: I like that.
Arlene Gale: It’s so powerful. Good, let me know how it works for you. The other thing that I wanted to talk about is coloring. You can go online and you can download different coloring books, or different coloring pages. It is an amazing stress reliever. There’s a reason that adult coloring books have become popular again. It is, you get so focused on coloring in the lines or the fact that that ostrich should be purple, but I’m going to make it purple anyway because that’s how I’m feeling right now. So it’s such a great stress relief. And the third thing that came up for me was, just because we’re shelter in, doesn’t mean we can’t go outside.
Dr. Kelly Holder: No. Yeah, no.
Arlene Gale: So you’ve got a beautiful front yard or backyard, I can see the trees from there, go into your backyard, go into your front yard and just sit in the sun, feel the cool air, go out at night and look at the clouds go by. Just because your shelter in place doesn’t mean you can’t go outside. I mean, I don’t know if this is a real thing or not, but for me, if I don’t get outside and get some sunshine, or if I can’t see the sunshine, I go a little nutsy cuckoo, just let me out.
Dr. Kelly Holder: I just read a research article, exercise during this time, and of course we know exercise is important but it appears that people get greater benefit if they exercise outdoors. Especially right now, while we’re doing the shelter in place. So getting outside, taking a walk, being in nature, you all can see some of my house, I actually moved my office to, you can see this is an outdoor light. I’m literally on an enclosed porch just so I can in some way be in nature while I am doing my work because it’s improving my wellness. A couple of days ago I was like, I’ve got to change what I’m doing. I need to do something that’s going to help keep me going, and this is one of the things I was able to do, and I’m grateful and blessed to be able to do that. It is cold out here, so I’m wrapped up, but nature is, you’re very right about that, Arlene.
Arlene Gale: I thought I was alone in that, so it’s good to know. It’s good to have that company and that mindset. So we’re getting ready to wrap it up, wrap things up. So Kelly, is there a way people can get access to more of your wisdom? You have a website or anything?
Dr. Kelly Holder: I do have an Instagram account, so you can follow me at Dr. Kelly Holder. Yep, that’s it, D-R-K-E-L-L-Y-H-O-L-D-E-R, @ at the front, on Instagram.
Arlene Gale: Instagram, that’s awesome. I think you gave so much wisdom today, and out of all of the things we talked about, if there was one golden nugget that somebody could take from this conversation, I know, no pressure, drum roll please.
Dr. Kelly Holder: I would say the one nugget would be is, be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to feel how you feel, and then extend it to someone else. When someone else tells you how they feel about something, before you come back with a comment right away, try to take a moment and say, maybe I don’t understand how you feel. Tell me more about that. Or if you identify, say, wow, there’s no way I could understand how you feel, but give that validation to someone else. Give it to yourself first and then give it to someone else.“Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel how you feel. And then extend it to someone else.” -Dr. Kelly Holder Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: Wow. That’s awesome. Thank you Kelly for being here. I appreciate it. I think your wisdom is so timely and so important, and I feel a little bit bad about putting you on the spot to come up with one golden nugget because there was so much here. I’m taking notes. I mean, I’ve got a page full of notes of things that I have to tell myself and do myself. So thank you, thank you, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
Dr. Kelly Holder: You’re very welcome. It was my pleasure.
Arlene Gale: Well, now your children are calling, so I’m going to leave you and my listeners with this thought. Be mindful of the stories you tell yourself about what is or is not possible for you and your life. Because only you get to choose to write your story everyday. Until next time, bye.