Call Capital EAP
to set up an appointment!
Prioritizing Wellness
By: Kristi Zalinka, EAP Intern
2020 has been a year of consistent uncertainty and endless adjustments. Through having to adjust our way of life while also dealing with the ever-present burden of the unknown, it can become difficult to prioritize our wellness. It is easy to put our own wellness on the backburner while trying to keep up with the changes that the COVID pandemic has forced us to make. However, it is essential to harness wellness now more than ever.

We don’t know what 2021 has in store for us, but it is critical for us to keep ourselves priority. There is no end date in sight for the pandemic, but we can take steps to keep ourselves priority to make the adjustments and the unknown a bit easier to deal with.

Wellness can look different for everyone, but it generally means that we choose to think and act in ways that are in our best interest. Positive thoughts, feelings, and actions that we harness can significantly improve our overall physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing. By prioritizing ourselves in this way and taking control of these parts of our being, we can enjoy life to the fullest, build and maintain stronger relationships, and face challenges with a stronger arsenal, particularly the effects of the COVID pandemic.

This is not to say that we will be without struggle – we are human beings, and some days are harder than others. However, adjusting how we operate internally can pave the way for a more positive outlook on life and we are more likely to keep our wellness a priority. Even positive changes take time.

Here are some helpful tips and resources that can help improve personal wellness:

1) Prioritize your mental health:
  • There is abundant help available due to the vast expansion of telehealth services.
  • Needing help does not mean we are not capable of handling things ourselves. It simply means that we need some guidance and time out of our own heads.
  • Contact Capital EAP to schedule a therapy session.

2) Practice self care:
  • Self care is always something that we should have on our list of priorities, but making a consistent effort to take care of ourselves can make wellness have an even greater positive impact.
  • Schedule time for yourself. Yes, that means writing it down in a planner or calendar so that there is less of a chance that something can interfere with it. Plan time for yourself – you deserve it.

3) Brainstorm:
  • What makes you happy? Though our in-person contact is limited and some things are off the table for the time being, we can use this time to discover or rediscover things that make us happy. Make a list of people, places, and things that bring you joy, and incorporate what you can in your daily life.

4) Pay attention to yourself:
  • Make it a point to notice when you are feeling “off” or not like yourself. Think about what may be contributing to the difficult thoughts or feelings that you are having. The more that we notice what we are feeling or thinking and why, the more we can learn to handle it positively.

It is hard work to become more aware of ourselves and keep self care in routine, but it paves the way for improved overall wellness.

Below are some links to worksheets to help with improving wellness and self awareness:

Coping skills: Anxiety

Gratitude Journal:

Journal Prompts for Self Discovery:

Symptoms of Stress:

Wellness Assessment:

“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” –Brene Brown
Coping with Your Trauma
By: Marion R. White, MHC-LP
This past year has been incredibly difficult, to say the least. We’ve had to cope with several major historical events including a tumultuous election and a deadly pandemic, which has had not just an effect on global health but on financial stability across the nation. In times of great stress like these it can also be difficult to cope if you have a history of trauma.

As a therapist I tend to see themes in my clients and one of the most recent themes is a retriggering of traumatic memories for people who have a history of trauma. Trauma that is more recent and trauma from many, many years ago has started to resurface for a lot of the clients I work with, partially due to all the stress from the current political on-goings and global health crises. Therapy can be incredibly useful in working through a history of trauma, but there are also some everyday strategies that you can use to try to cope with some traumatic symptoms you may be experiencing.

Identifying Your Triggers
The first step to coping with any sort of traumatic response is to identify and label your triggers. It’s important to keep in mind that there are some situations/people/conversations that you can consciously limit your exposure to, while others are completely out of your control. The important thing about spotting and identifying your triggers is that it can alert you about your own mental health and help you become more aware. When you are more aware, you can begin to take responsibility for the way you manage your emotions, as opposed to letting them control you. When you can't manage or process your emotions appropriately, you will end up simply reacting to others. 

One great way to start identifying your triggers is to write them down. Start to take notice of when you felt upset or shaken up. What was going on at the time? Who was around? Were you talking to anybody? What were you thinking of? What environment were you in? What specific phrases were said? Try to pay attention to the details, and the more details you notice, the more you’ll begin to identify themes.

Take a moment to notice any strong negative emotion you're experiencing. If you're not feeling anything negative now then think about the last time you were upset. Whether your unpleasant feelings are present or past, don't judge or resist them. Send your memory backward in time to find the moment when you switched from "okay" to "not okay." Did you begin feeling bad at breakfast this morning? While going to bed last night?
Once you recall the approximate time your mood went sour, notice what felt most upsetting: a comment from your boss, a story on the news, the number on the scale. Be patient with yourself as you search for the precise trigger. It's a delicate skill that takes practice. You might want to enlist the help of a therapist, a coach, or a friend, especially at first. But even on your own, tracing bad moods back in time will eventually help you spot the triggering event.
The following is a worksheet to help you start identifying your trauma triggers: click here

Identifying Your Trauma Response (Physical, Emotional, Behavioral)
Another important step in coping with your trauma is to identify what sort of trauma response you experience, whether it be physical, emotional, or behavioral. Initial reactions to trauma can include exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, dissociation, confusion, physical arousal, and blunted affect. However, you may also experience symptoms following the trauma or even years after you experience a traumatic event. The following are symptoms you may experience following a traumatic experience:

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Feeling disconnected or dumb
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Feelings of depression and emotional dysregulation
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Edginess and agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Being startled easily
  • Muscle tension
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Chronic health conditions related to stress
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Avoidant
  • Self-injury and self-destructive behaviors
  • Self-medication (ex. Alcohol and/or drugs)
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Interpersonal and social difficulties

Mindfulness exercises and writing your symptoms down can help you to begin identifying your trauma response. It can be very helpful to keep a trauma journal in which you can track days that you felt “off” and identify the symptoms that you were experiencing. This is another way to start identifying patterns and themes surrounding your trauma.

Self-Soothing Techniques
Self-soothing is a way in which we treat ourselves to feelings of betterment, so that we can move forward, past any negativity or pain. No matter how agitated, anxious, or out of control you feel, it’s important to know that you can change your arousal system and calm yourself. Not only will it help relieve the anxiety associated with trauma, but it will also engender a greater sense of control.

Mindful breathing. If you are feeling disoriented, confused, or upset, practicing mindful breathing is a quick way to calm yourself. Simply take 60 breaths, focusing your attention on each ‘out’ breath.

Sensory input. Does a specific sight, smell or taste quickly make you feel calm? Or maybe petting an animal or listening to music works to quickly soothe you? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment with different quick stress relief techniques to find what works best for you.
Good techniques for coping with stress are ones that appeal to the five senses:

1) Touch
  • Taking a warm bubble bath filled with Epsom salt to help relax any muscular tension
  • Getting a massage
2) Taste
  • Drinking a cup of hot herbal tea to help relax
  • Chewing gum or sucking on a piece of hard candy 
3) Smell
  • Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils
  • Lighting candles
4) Sight
  • Distracting yourself with your favorite comedy movie or television show
  • Laying in a field and watching the clouds pass by
5) Sound
  • Listening to your favorite music
  • Using a sound machine during periods of rest and sleep

Staying grounded. To feel in the present and more grounded, sit on a chair. Feel your feet on the ground and your back against the chair. Look around you and pick six objects that have red or blue in them. Notice how your breathing gets deeper and calmer.

Allow yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it. Acknowledge your feelings about the trauma as they arise and accept them. 
How to Deal with Anxiety and Panic Attacks
By: Ashley Vazquez, MFT, EAP Counselor
Experiencing anxiety or panic attacks may be more prevalent during these difficult times than ever before. Here you will find some ways you can learn to manage or overcome anxiety and panic attacks. In order to manage these two undesired experiences, it may be helpful to understand the difference between the two.

Panic vs. Anxiety: The two terms are usually used interchangeably. But, there are some distinctions between the two concepts. In order to be considered a panic attack, the presence of physiological symptoms must be present. Panic attack involves an intense rush of adrenaline along with physical symptoms that may be experienced throughout the body. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-V), the key difference between the two is the duration. Panic attacks last at peak intensity for approximately 15-30 minutes.

However, those who struggle with anxiety might experience heavy thoughts, ruminations, dreading, and even fear for long periods of time without experiencing the above mentioned physiological symptoms. During a panic attack anxiety-provoking thoughts may be magnified.

Ways to Overcome Anxiety:
  • Understand that thoughts are powerful: Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) are likely to be one of the leading causes of anxiety. When faced with “all or nothing thinking”, disqualifying the positive, negative self-labeling, or spending hours ruminating over the past or concluding to the most extreme outcome (Catastrophizing), then of course one is likely to become anxious.
  • Cease: When experiencing these automatic negative thoughts, it is important to become conscious of them and to consciously STOP them from perpetuating. A good way to stop focusing on the negative is by becoming distracted. For example: Do something creative like write, dance, or an activity like trying to say your ABC’s backwards.
  • Calm: Once you’ve stopped the thought, you want to calm yourself. Different ways to find your calm place may include, doing deep breathing exercises, listening to calm music, burning candles and incense, or oils, or visualizing yourself in a place that brings you peace.
  • Change: You have recognized the power of these negative thoughts, you have consciously stopped thinking them, you have calmed yourself down, and now it is time to reframe by changing your perspective on the situation, perspective often has a powerful way of shaping one’s reality.

The above techniques can be used to help manage anxiety, next you will find ways to help manage a more extreme form of anxiety, panic attacks. The same methods apply as dealing with anxiety, however a little more work may need to be done to help manage panic attacks. Often times people who deal with panic attacks fear the onset of another panic attack. This is where the cease, calm, change technique comes in handy.

Here are some other ways to help manage panic attacks.

Keep a thought log, for example:
  • Thought:
  • Distortion:
  • Is it actually true?:
  • Is it actually a problem?:
  • More realistic interpretation:

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise: The idea of this exercise is to “get you out of your head” and out of the future, and bring you back to the present moment. In order to practice this exercise, you do the following:
Name 5 things you can see right now.
Name 4 things you can hear right now.
Name 3 things you can touch right now.
Name 2 things you can smell right now.
Name 1 thing you can taste right now.

Talk to Someone You Trust or Talk to Your Therapist: Often times, people who deal with anxiety keep it to themselves. This makes them feel alone, and as if no one can understand their struggles. However, talking or venting about the issue may be a helpful way of coping and just letting it out can be a liberating experience.

Although a panic attack and normal anxiety can have their differences, the two share in that they both may cause severe discomfort in the mind, body and soul. Utilizing your sources, and knowing how powerful your thoughts are in the matter are key ways to deal with these unwanted experiences. 
Winter Activities for the Kids to do at Home
By: Lorraine LaRock
The weather is getting colder and colder, leaving many people at home with the same question, “What do I do with these kids now that they’re home from school!?” Even with the snow falling, there is still so many things you can do to keep the kids busy, but still do your part with keeping safe from COVID.

  • Get outdoors and play (socially distanced, of course!): From sledding, to snow angels, to building igloos and snowballs fights galore! Just because the warm weather might have disappeared doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! Break out the hot cocoa and get exploring the outdoors when it’s arguably the most beautiful, covered in white snow. Why not have a challenge with the people in your household to see who can build the cutest snowperson!?

  • Enjoy the tastes and smells of winter: Winter is full of so many unique smells and tastes, now is the chance to indulge in them all. Get creative in the kitchen and try out a homemade hot chocolate recipe. Don’t be afraid to stray from the traditional and add in whatever yummy ingredients you might have laying around (like a spoonful of peanut butter). Or, create a new tradition and have the kids help you bake great grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookies. If you’re really feeling brave, have everyone run out side and grab some fresh snow to make a true snow cone!

  • Get crafty: There are so many winter crafts to do at home, even if you aren’t a professional artist yourself. Get back to the feeling of when you were a kid and have the whole family turn the house into a winter wonderland by making paper snowflakes. Or, think outside the box and make a homemade birdfeeder with some birdseed, peanut butter and pinecones to hang by the window and watch your new friends. Do you have some extra toilet paper rolls hanging around? Recycle them into a cute toilet paper snowman! Don’t be afraid to play around with the odds and ends you have laying around the house.

  • Take some time to slow down: Don’t be afraid to slow the pace back down a little bit and savor those quiet moments. Take your hot cocoa to a chair by the window and have everyone watch the snow fall down. Start a new tradition by having everyone dress in their favorite pajamas and camp out in the living room with cozy blankets and take turns reading from your favorite books. If you want to keep the fun flowing, print off some coloring pages for the whole family and have a coloring night. Or, bust out the cards and board games and see who the household’s true UNO champion is (just try not to be surprised when you’re losing to your six-year-old). 
Meet our New Program Coordinators!
Lorraine LaRock just began her journey with Capital EAP as Capital Counseling’s Program Coordinator. Lorraine has previously worked in management and customer service roles, specifically working with the population of individuals with mental health needs and developmental disabilities. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Therapeutic Recreation and also has an Associate’s Degree in Theatre Arts. She has a strong passion for helping others achieve their highest quality of life.

Alison Rodrigues-Jadav is the new EAP Program Coordinator for Capital Counseling. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Banking and Finance and her MBA in human resources. She has years of experience in customer service as well as talent acquisition in the airline industry. She has worked with kids with disabilities and her life motto is " A life spent helping others is a life filled with purpose"
Don't hesitate to reach out to our new Program Coordinators with any questions related to your EAP benefits!
Smoking Cessation Help
As a part of your free EAP benefit, we partner with St. Peter's Health to offer "The Butt Stops Here".

This is a highly effective 7-week group smoking cessation program, that includes:
  • 7 Sessions (one per week)
  • Two Weeks of nicotine patches, or gum
  • "The Butt Stops Here" workbook
  • Support of peers

Call Capital EAP at 518.465.3813 to get the schedule and more information!
Upcoming Free Webinars
1/6 @ 12pm- Introduction into Mindfulness w/ Ashley

1/20 @ 12pm- Anxiety Free: Reconstructing Thoughts to Eliminate Anxiety w/ Ashley

1/27 @ 12pm- Motivation for Change w/ Kristi

2/1 @ 12pm- Promoting Kindness and Compassion in the Workplace w/ Marion

2/9 @ 12pm- Work-Life Balance: The Secrets to Living a Balanced Life w/ Ashley

2/24 @ 12pm- Increasing Utilization w/ Amanda

Online Capital EAP COVID-19 Support Group
**This group is exclusive to Capital EAP Members**

Description: This free, online group is for members who would like to discuss emotional difficulties they have been facing due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Come talk to a group of peers about what has been difficult during this time and get some support from others in the community.

Platform:  Zoom - link provided at registration

Time:  Wednesdays, 6pm-7pm

Dates: January 13th, 20th, 27th and February 3rd

Facilitator:  Marion White, MHC-LP, Capital EAP Counselor

Registration:  Call Capital EAP to register, 518-465-3813
In A Pinch? A Success Coach Can Help!
Employer Resource Network
Success Coaches at the Employer Resource Network are skilled at navigating the complex array of community resources available in times of need.
Services may include
·        Utilities and disconnections
·        Auto and transportation
·        Child care and daycare
·        Domestic violence and shelters
·        Evictions, foreclosures, and temporary housing
·        Local, state, and federal assistance programs
Interested? Please call 518.465.3813 to get connected to our Employee Resource Network today!
Solutions for Work & Life 
Mental Health | Work-Life Balance | Family Support | Education