JVS Career Services Scholarship Programs Open for Applications

“College was something that I was kind of worried about how to pay for,” said Ohio State University senior Ashley Schlaeger. “I knew my parents would help me a little bit, but having the scholarship going in to college really helped me financially. It’s also helped me to keep my grades up, because one of the requirements is that you have a GPA of 3.0 or above.”

Since 1955, The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati Hilb Scholarship has been providing need-based financial assistance to students in the Cincinnati Jewish community.

“The Hilb Scholarship Fund is committed to making funds available for students who want to further their education after high school, and adults who want additional education and training,” said JVS Career Services CEO, Joni Burton. 

Gus Hilb established the Hilb Scholarship Fund at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati in 1955 in honor of his parents, Mannis and Yetta Hilb, and since its inception it has been administered by JVS Career Services.

“Not only has the Hilb Scholarship been an immense financial help, but it has encouraged me to work to my full potential in all of my courses,” said Alex Katz, a senior at the University of Cincinnati. “I had a low GPA in high school, and I didn’t participate in many clubs or sports. I was lucky to have JVS Career Services take a chance on me.”

Katz continued, “I’m looking forward to what’s in store for me after graduation, and thanks to the skills I’ve gained over the past four years, I’m optimistic about my future. I would like to thank JVS Career Services from the bottom of my heart.”

For the 2020-2021 academic year, 83 Hilb scholarships, totaling more than $200,000, were awarded.

“I love watching the students succeed, and getting to know each of them individually,” said Kasey Rouse, Scholarship Coordinator at JVS Career Services. “I love that I have the chance to make a difference in so many lives.”

The Hilb Scholarship isn’t the only opportunity available to students. These additional funds are also available to students who complete the Hilb scholarship application: the Anne and George Heldman Family Scholarship Fund, the Saidel Award, the Guthman Award, the Graff Award, and the Weiss Award.

Another fund available is the Weiland Scholarship, which is open to Jewish residents of the Greater Cincinnati area who are attending Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. This fund is available through a separate application that is open throughout the year.

The last day to submit an application for the Hilb scholarship for the 2021-2022 academic year is May 1st, 2021. Students interested in applying must set up an appointment for an interview with the scholarship coordinator. You can learn more here.

Scholarship assistance is just one of the many services that JVS Career Services offers to students. The agency also works with students on career coaching, resume writing, networking, and interviewing skills all free of charge.  As students approach the end of their schooling, JVS Career Services helps students find internships or jobs after graduation. JVS Career Services is dedicated to helping students get the most out of their college careers, and will be there with them throughout their professional life.

How JVS Career Services is Helping Dan Rapp Get Back to Work

“My JVS Career Services career coach was Dedra, and she was brave when I was not,” remembered Dan Rapp. “She was confident when I felt insecure and her moxie was transferred to me. That really made a big difference in how I felt waking up each morning, how I went about my day and how I felt when I was lying in bed at night.”

Dan lost his job at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown and said he felt a sense of embarrassment about that. “When you’re laid off you’re just off balance, you’re not yourself.” Dan said he was at first reluctant to tell friends, family, and former coworkers that he was looking for work. “Then I realized getting laid off is not a unique experience. Almost everyone at some point will lose a job. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” and with that, Dan contacted JVS Career Services.

“Dedra and the staff at JVS Career Services really helped ground me and helped me work through some of the emotional distress and discomfort of not having a paycheck for the first time in 25 years.”

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, JVS Career Services has moved its career coaching entirely online and over the phone. It is also hosting a number of free webinars to help job seekers, like Dan, improve their job seeking skills. “I took a really great workshop on how to get your LinkedIn page optimized so recruiters can find you more easily and find your skills more easily. That was really important to me.”

As for finding work when you’re unable to leave the house Dan said that has been an interesting experience, “I’ve always been a big networker, and for me, not being able to go out and have coffee or lunch has been hard, but JVS Career Services taught me how to move those networking meetings online. They made sure that I understood how to dress, what backdrop to have, and how to navigate this kind of networking versus in person networking.”

He said when he first lost his job he felt like he was missing out on a large cultural shift, “everyone is in Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, or any number of digital collaboration platforms, and I felt a little bit like I was on the outside looking in. Not only had I lost my job, but now I was missing out on the opportunity to learn this new way of communicating and doing business.”

Dan said that’s another reason doing digital networking is important; it keeps him involved and active with new technology.

“My advice for people who may have just been recently laid off is don’t panic. That’s easier said than done, but JVS Career Services is here to help you. Also, quickly start looking into filing for unemployment. JVS Career Services can help you with that, too. They understand the system, they understand how it works and they can walk you through it so that your income doesn’t go from whatever it was to zero.”

He said the most important piece of advice he can give anyone is, “there’s no shame in asking for help. Let JVS Career Services help you. Being laid off happens to almost everybody and is not unique to you. It feels unique to you because it’s personal and it’s happening right now. And if it’s happening during Corona virus, it’s feeling extra weighty, but there is help out there for you so just accept it and use it and listen to it.”

JVS Career Services is currently offering free virtual career coaching sessions to anyone experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. To get in touch and start your process, contact JVS or reach out by phone at 513-936-9675.

From Novice to Ace: How Mastering Video Interviews Helped Land Jeffrey a New Job

“Being laid off due to COVID-19 was a struggle,” recalled Jeffrey Goodman. “Conducting virtual interviews–I was totally out of my element. I had never been on a video call before. I didn’t even know how to change my name in the corner.”

But Jeffrey was able to master the art of video interviews thanks to the career coaches at JVS Career Services. “They were really able to help me out, and turn a negative into a positive.”

He was first connected with JVS Career Services while he was in college through a workshop for Cincinnati Hillel at the University of Cincinnati. Jeffrey said he then reached out to us after he was furloughed and ultimately laid off due to the pandemic.

All of Jeffrey’s career coaching was done over phone and video calls to help maintain social distancing. “That was something brand new that I had never done before that I had zero experience in, and we did mock interviews over video calls. We knew what the general questions I was going to be asked were, so they helped me form my responses. It was great to practice and get comfortable with what I was going to say during a real interview.”

Jeffrey said the mock interviews went beyond just preparing responses but, “how to be in the center of the frame, how to be professional, what I should wear.”

All of his hard work paid off and led to him earning the job he’s always wanted. “Take the career coaches’ advice, but don’t expect them to do the work for you. They are there to help guide you, but it’s still up to you do look for positions and get the interview. Working with them definitely made my chances of getting the job go up.”

“They were really able to help me out, and turn a negative into a positive,” said Jeffrey.

JVS Career Services is currently offering free virtual career coaching sessions to anyone experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. To get in touch and start your process, contact JVS or reach out by phone at 513-936-9675.

JVS Career Services Announces New Board Leaders During 2020 Annual Meeting

“Frequently, we discuss and measure what we do in very tactical terms,” said JVS Career Services’ new board chair, Denis Joseph. “We talk about running scholarship and internship programs. We talk about coaching job seekers. We talk about recruiting for organizations inside and outside of the Jewish community. And many other things.”

During JVS Career Services’ Annual Meeting, which was held virtually over a video call on June 22nd, Joseph was approved as the new board chair. For the last 80 years, JVS Career Services (JVSCS) has been helping connect Cincinnati residents with careers they love. However, Joseph wants to continue to push the organization to innovate and reinvent itself. “I want to invite us to view this work in even more strategic terms,” he said, “because when we view it just a bit differently, our stakeholders will see that the potential impact is greater than they imagined, and it may even inspire us to go about doing the work in ways that lead to more powerful outcomes.”

COVID-19 has forced JVSCS to reflect and look for new ways to reach its clients during a time of unprecedented unemployment. “As the demand for our services continues to grow, we’ve been able to swiftly realign our business structure to put a greater focus on job seeker services and career coaching,” said JVS Career Services’ CEO Joni Burton.

As part of that realignment, JVSCS is offering online seminars that give hundreds of community members access to the organization’s professional career coaches. “The number of participants taking part in our virtual programming continues to increase,” said Burton. “And we are actively preparing to help more individuals, as needs will likely escalate in the near future.”

Currently, more than 1,100 clients and program participants are working with JVS Career Services, an increase of 32% from this time last year. This number includes people who have been laid off and those who fear they may soon be laid off.

“While the way we currently talk about the mission and vision at JVSCS is centered on employment, we are actually helping create a stronger workforce in our community,” said Joseph. “The value creation from our work is exponential. The people filling the jobs are the ones allowing organizations to offer new services, build new locations, launch new projects, acquire new accounts, innovate, turn themselves around, and grow.”

Joseph went on to say that identifying “high octane” talent and helping companies develop that talent makes JVSCS a catalyst for economic renewal in the Cincinnati area, and with record unemployment due to COVID-19, that role is more important now than ever.

For the past two years, Joseph has served as JVSCS vice chair under Lori Frischer, whose term as board chair has come to an end. “Without Lori and the rest of the leadership team, we couldn’t have pivoted with the speed and agility we did this spring to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak,” Joseph said. “It was an impressive feat, but it once again put on display the competencies that differentiate JVS Career Services from other organizations.”

Looking back over her two years of leadership, Burton noted that Frischer often pushed her to make hard decisions. “I could always count on Lori for her direct communication, and to challenge me to be a better leader,” she said.  “Two years went by quickly, but Lori’s impact on JVS Career Services will continue to be felt; she helped us obtain our three-year grant from The Jewish Foundation, which will help us build the organization.”

A new executive board was approved during the meeting. It includes Joseph as board chair, Vallie Freeman as vice-chair, Ryan Silverman as treasurer, and Leon Seserman as secretary. Other board members also include Frischer as immediate past chair, Robert Oestreicher as previous past chair, and Sandy Kaltman, Mickey Fishman, Howard Kaplan, Alan Brown, and Jamie Rosen as managers.

JVS Career Services is proud to point out that Joseph, Frischer, and Freeman are members of the prestigious and selective Wexner Heritage Program. Founded in 1985, this program helps educate up-and-coming Jewish community leaders in the history, thought, texts, and contemporary leadership challenges of the Jewish People. It is through this training that JVSCS hopes to create strong, Jewish community leaders to take our community into the future.

The outgoing board members, who are: Jess Davidson, Adam Baker, Nina Loftspring, and Jeffrey Stern, were also recognized for their work and dedication.

“I would like to share how proud I am to be a part of an organization whose importance to the community has never been as great as it is today,” said Frischer. “Our intentional focus on jobs and careers from internships to second-acts are our driving force.”

With a future driven by COVID-19 uncertainty, JVS Career Services may be needed now more than ever. With strong and passionate leadership, and an organizational willingness to embrace change and innovation, JVSCS stands ready to meet whatever challenges are coming, and to continue to help Cincinnati residents connect with careers they love.

“We’re going to keep doing what keeps us great, and deal with the challenges that arrive,” said Joseph. “We’re going to seize the opportunities to make this agency a driver of important initiatives in Jewish Cincinnati.”

COVID-19 Survival Guide: Fighting Fatigue

Ann StrombergAnn Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

COVID-19 Fatigue is real!

We have been quarantined for almost five months now, and COVID-19 quarantine is an abnormal way of life. COVID-19 fatigue is the feeling of exhaustion, frustration, and disillusionment due to the pandemic. Frustration builds as people continue to react differently to the precautionary measures suggested for all of us. If you have been following all the recommendations, wearing a mask when out and sheltering in place, it is maddening to see so many choosing to do as they please.

The daily reports are even more distressing now, considering some cities are stepping back and closing up again. All of this is occurring without any clear knowledge of how long we will be facing these pandemic challenges. Considering all of this, you may be wondering if we will ever return to some version of normalcy. Facing an unknown situation is stressful and usually resolved when we get the situation under control.

How do we find control in a pandemic with so many unknowns? These prolonged feelings of uncertainty create chronic stress in our bodies. Chronic stress can feel very different from acute stress, like an accident or a sudden traumatic event. Chronic stress can wear us down physically and mentally slowly and sometimes without our knowledge.

Our body’s response to stress has not changed much through evolution even though our way of life has changed, our nervous system is still on the lookout for survival. In a nutshell, when the nervous system signals our body there is danger all of our flight or fight response will activate, and the other systems not needed for survival, are suppressed until the threat is over. Once the body receives the message we are safe, our nervous system tells our body to relax and return to normal functioning. Our thinking brain is turned off until the danger has passed, creating a decline in our executive functions. Chronic stress keeps our survival mode turned on, and this causes us to remain on high alert.

When we are chronically stressed, we lose the ability to think as clearly as possible. It suppresses our immune system, interferes with our sleep cycle, and eventually, our body gives up trying to regulate itself, and the stress response takes over. It doesn’t matter if we are working from home, looking for a new position, or making a career change. We can’t perform at our peak levels if our brain is not fully tuned in. We all want to do our best, and we need peak brain performance!

We do know how to live in balance and how to be our best selves, and we know it takes some effort to put our well being first. We have learned that abnormal is the new normal, and we are feeling tired of being at home. When we began to quarantine in March, it was novel, and we jumped in ready to charge through until we returned to our usual activities. As our time at home has grown well beyond what any of us expected, it may seem more challenging now to get motivated to do anything. This is the feeling of fatigue that is affecting a lot of us now. There are strategies to combat this fatigue and to re energize our daily routine. You can talk about how you feel, especially if you are quarantining with others. Talking with others may help to normalize some of the feelings you are all having.

Try to accept this new normal for what it is. We don’t have to like it, but accepting that we can’t change it ourselves can reduce frustration. Try getting up and moving. It’s hard to find a physical or emotional issue that exercise doesn’t help to improve. Try setting a schedule for your day, and don’t make it so rigid that you are bound to fail. Create small blocks of time to help your daily progress, including the time to get outside, move around, spend time with family, and block off the time you need to be working. Be sure to be gracious to yourself if the schedule gets derailed, it can always be fixed the next day.

Start setting a time to go to bed and a time to wake up. Keeping your sleep schedule regular will help you get a restful night of sleep, and our body needs time to rest and repair to allow our nervous system to regulate. Make an effort to stay connected with friends and family, in whatever manner is available to you now even a phone call strengthens our social connections. Find time every day for gratitude. No matter what our challenges are, we can always find gratitude. Let’s all remain healthy and hopeful so we can move past this COVID-19 pandemic as soon as possible.

COVID-19 Survival Guide: Beliefs and Character

Ann StrombergAnn Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

Beliefs and Character

We have all felt the uncertainty of our world during the past few months. How do you respond to uncertainty? Do you feel anxious or in total control? Our deep beliefs influence our response to difficult challenges. Our belief system influences our biological and emotional responses to all situations we encounter, both positive and negative. Our beliefs also influence our character, the qualities we show the world, and the way we experience life.  

You have likely heard the concept that our inside influences our outside, what we show the world. This is not a new concept, but one that is worth review. Consider that 95% of our behavior is controlled by our subconscious mind outside our conscious awareness. Our subconscious mind allows us to do ordinary daily activities without using a lot of consciousness. An example of how we allow the subconscious mind to lead would be driving and realizing we were not paying attention to the route but still reached the destination. We can use our brainpower for more challenging tasks and learning. Most of the decisions we make with our conscious mind. However, our subconscious mind drives most of our behavior. 

We still blame outside influences if we are not happy with the results, not recognizing our limiting beliefs. Our subconscious beliefs are based on what we internalized as children. Dr. Bruce Lipton in The Biology of Belief says we can use positive affirmations to confirm our intelligence, but if our subconscious messages we received were that we are dumb or worthless, that will always override our affirmations. 

Outside of our awareness, our subconscious mind overrides our conscious thought. These beliefs that we internalize early in life are our deep belief system, and our mind wants to protect them. Our body’s natural protection system will naturally override the growth system, so it is a challenge to shift these deep beliefs. The protection system is linked to our body’s stress response to challenges. Our bodies cannot be stressed and have a positive growth at the same time.

As you know, there are many techniques to build our self-awareness and to notice the signs of our distress within us. Frequently when our thoughts, feelings, and actions are not aligned, it will manifest in physical symptoms, a stress response. We can use mindfulness to begin to notice when the stress response that has developed, usually with physical symptoms. Slowing down and paying attention to our thoughts and feelings allows us to tune into the subconscious thoughts. 

As we gain awareness of our beliefs, we can begin to align them and our actions, diminishing the distress within us. Our character brings together our mental and moral qualities, and these should align with our beliefs and behaviors. Some believe we are born with characteristics that make us who we are. However, the positive character can be cultivated and grown by our conscious thoughts and behavior. We can develop our character by doing things that align with our belief system. Our beliefs help to shape our character, and growth occurs when we are humble and teachable. Service to others also builds character.   

The beauty of this complex physical and emotional balance we strive to achieve is that we are in control of our health and well being. Our beliefs do become our biology, and yet we can create our best selves. We must take time to assess our thoughts and feelings by slowing down and listening to our bodies. Find the technique that best fits you, meditation, prayer, sitting quietly, anything that allows for introspection. We can find peace in knowing we can grow and change as necessary, creating our best self with a strong character.

Your beliefs become your thoughts

Your thoughts become your words

Your words become your actions

Your actions become your values

Your values become your destiny

Mahatma Gandhi

COVID-19 Survival Guide: Patience

Ann StrombergAnn Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

Patience

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” Joyce Meyer

In theory, the art of being patient appears to be the simple act of waiting for the desired results. The reality is patience is a hard skill to master. Patience is learning to take time to allow things to happen, and that is what makes it difficult. 

We live in a world of instant gratification. We have become accustomed to having the ability to get what we need with a few clicks on the computer or phone. Our devices keep us connected to everyone and everything in our lives. Most of us have lost our ability to be patient. We recognize the importance of patience and learning to delay gratification, and we spend hours teaching our children to be patient and gracious while waiting. Yet it is so easy to forget the skill we learned early in life.  

Taking the time to allow things to occur allows us to take time to think it through, to develop a strategy to meet the challenge ahead. Fine-tuning our patience skills takes effort and strength. We use patience to move through life in a more mindful state of being.  

Being mindful leads to more productive efforts when facing a challenging task. We are faced with impatient people every day, people rushing around unaware of the fact their surroundings. Impatient people are usually more irritable and difficult to be around, much like an inpatient child who has not mastered patience yet. Rushing through life typically leads to less productive activity and wastes more energy. 

Taking time to meet a challenge with a well thought out strategy usually helps us be more productive. Imagine the people you want to spend time with. Finding ways to strengthen our patience skills takes time and is a skill that we need to continue to cultivate as we move through life. It has been shown that people with strong patience skills have a more positive outlook on life, have less depression and anxiety, and overall better mental health. Patient people are more mindful and better at coping with challenges.  

Developing strategies for improving our patience starts with acknowledging the need to be patient. Being mindful of our abilities and limitations helps to keep our expectations realistic. When facing a challenge, take time to plan a strategy to move through the process. One big stumbling block we create for ourselves is placing an unrealistic time frame on our challenge. Regardless of the current task, making a career change, looking for a new position, or any challenge we face, look at your time frame, and extend the allotted time. Everything takes longer then we plan, and we always give ourselves too little time, and we become frustrated. 

Before beginning any project, take time to plan out each step and then go back and add time to each step. The additional time allows the task to be more enjoyable, and we are more mindful as we complete each step. There is never any disappointment when a project takes less time to complete than expected. Start today to evaluate your biggest challenge and take some time to look at each step and look for ways to create a more thoughtful and realistic time frame. Sometimes we need to slow down to get our desired results faster.

Despite Record Unemployment, JVS Career Services Continues to Help Find Work

“I was laid off before the COVID-19 crisis happened,” said JVS Career Services client Dustin. “What I have found is that many HR departments are focused on handling COVID-19 instead of trying to figure out how to interview and hire people online.”
When Dustin lost his job at the end of 2019, he reached out to JVS Career Services to help him get back to work. Dustin was connected with career coach Christine Olsen and began working on redeveloping interview skills. “I hadn’t been on a job interview in 22 years,” Dustin said. “Christine has been very helpful in refreshing everything I need to know about the interview process, and I now feel much better about my ability to connect with an interviewer and how to present myself in the best way.”
Dustin found himself entering a job market that looks very different from the one he last saw in 1998. “At that time, I put on my suit and I drove to the interviews. The only thing I was able to talk about was my college career. Now I’m able to talk to employers about all of the projects I’ve been a part of and how I was able to help the company.” Outside of his resume and experience, job hunting is now mostly done online with the first several steps taking place without ever speaking to someone. “Christine was able to help me with tips on how to interview online and how to get noticed, but it went beyond just knowing how to set up a camera and have a clean background.”
“Not only did she help me learn how to have successful virtual interviews, Christine helped me with the types of questions I may be asked, and we did practice interviews. She taught me how to word every answer in a way that shows the interviewer what they really want to know.”
Not only did Christine help Dustin polish his interview skills during the COVID-19 lockdown, she set him up with online professional development classes. “There were several she showed me, and I got to pick the ones that I was most interested in. I chose LinkedIn Learning and it turns out that one is not only thorough, but it shows interviewers that I’ve had those classes, and it was very helpful for getting me noticed.”
For the last 80 years JVS Career Services has been connecting Cincinnati residents with new careers, and those decades of experience are now more valuable than ever. The current national unemployment rate is at its highest level since the Great Depression of the 1930s, but that doesn’t mean that jobs are impossible to find. Dustin has had three interviews; the most recent being with a company he is very excited about.
“It seems like a perfect fit. I’m really excited that the opportunity I’ve found will place me in a company with a lot of people working with the technology that I am skilled in. I didn’t know a company like this existed in Cincinnati.”
On the reception desk at the JVS Career Services office sits a large bell hop bell, and one of the traditions is to have clients come in and ring the bell after they have accepted a new position. Dustin said that he is hopeful he will be hired on by the company he is interviewing with, “and I can’t wait to get back to the JVSCS office and ring that bell. I’ll probably do a conga line around the office, I’ll be so excited. JVS Career Services really is the best place to get yourself in shape if you’re looking for a job. There’s no question about it.”

JVS Career Services is currently offering free virtual career coaching sessions to anyone experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 in addition to offering free webinars both live and archived free to any job seeker. To get in touch and start your process, contact JVS or reach out by phone at 513-936-9675.

COVID-19 Survival Guide: Choosing Kindness

2020 has presented us with many challenges that test our patience and break our hearts. Once again, we as a society are faced with the disgusting practices of racism and social injustice. Hatred is a vile emotion that has been the source of suffering for citizens for decades. While we are not debating solutions here today, we can all agree change is necessary. Regardless of our own beliefs, there is a practice that makes sense for everyone in every situation, being kind. Choosing kindness over hatred is always a winning choice, plus it benefits the giver and the receiver.

Kindness is a teachable skill and with practice, it can become an easy strategy to navigate life. Kind acts can become a habit with time. The idea that kindness is contagious makes sense when examined socially and scientifically. There is a plethora of research that has been done that examines the benefits of being kind. One simple reason to choose kindness is that it makes us feel good to be kind. Research shows that acts of kindness send messages to the brain that trigger our feel-good endorphins, creating a helper’s high.

Helper’s high is similar to an exercise high. This release of endorphins helps to lower our stress hormones.

By choosing kindness we can help boost our mood, lengthen our life, and improve our well being. Positive well being is measured by having more positive emotions than negative and feeling satisfied in most areas of our life. Kindness is a powerful tool that we can choose every day to show others we care and to increase our well being!

Kindness is often defined as being friendly, generous, and compassionate. As well as behaving in a way that shows others you care about them. There are opportunities to choose kindness that surround us all through the day; we just need to pay attention. Typically we are moving mindlessly through our day. By incorporating some mindfulness (attention) to what is happening around us, we can begin to open our eyes to ways we can choose to be kind.

Simple acts of kindness may range from donating to someone in need to helping someone pick up the blueberries they dropped at the grocery. When we pay attention to our surroundings, we can begin to see opportunities to be helpful. Learning to be kind begins with being kind to ourselves when we fail or make mistakes. We can find self-awareness as we work to create a more mindful way of functioning.

There are always opportunities to be kind and be the best version of us. Challenge yourself to do a random act of kindness and notice what happens. Remember we can always choose to be kind. Kindness breaks down barriers and builds bridges. Choosing to be kind does not mean we have to love everyone we meet; we just need to be kind and respectful to all humans.

Making a simple choice to be kind throughout the day will help create positive energy and positive connections with others. As we all embrace kindness and respect in our daily interactions, we can begin to create the much-needed circle of love. Kindness is contagious; pass it on!

Ann Stromberg

Ann Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

COVID-19 Survival Guide: The Power of the Pause

Ann StrombergAnn Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor

After spending so much time in self-quarantine and having downtime it may seem redundant to think about taking time to pause. Have you taken the time to pause and allow your mind to take a break? Spending time and allowing the mind to take some time off from our daily chatter creates a respite from the stressors in our current world. The chatter, Buddhists refer to this as the “monkey mind”, drives our mood usually without our conscious understanding. Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love describes it as “My mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined”. Living in uncertain times allows for an increase in distractions and decreases our ability to focus.  

Pausing is taking time to tune out and be still. It is in this time when we slow down and listen to our thoughts that we gain insight into our deepest feelings and beliefs. So much of our belief system stems from our unconscious thought patterns often learned while we were young. The beliefs we internalized long ago are reinforced daily in our thoughts. Pausing is a simple strategy to connect to our deepest beliefs. Begin by setting aside a time to be present with your thoughts. Find a quiet space to be without distractions and interruptions. It may help to set a timer and always begin with a short time, just a few minutes. 

You will be able to extend the time as your comfort level grows. Allow your thoughts to surface and try to listen without reaction. No matter the thought or its validity, just acknowledge it without reaction. After your time is up, assess and reflect on the thoughts that were present. Is there a trend? Are the thoughts valid? Is there something to be learned from these thoughts? 

Continue to use your time to pause to evaluate your thoughts. Our evaluation of thoughts may identify some irrational thought patterns. We can use the information to determine if we are on the right track or if there may be some changes that are needed. The benefit of self-assessment is our ability to learn from our experiences through reflection. We can use our internal dialog to help us dispel incorrect thought patterns or to build on our positive experiences. As we grow in our ability to pause and reflect, our ability to resist judging ourselves will grow. We will be able to have a clear perspective of our thought patterns. Don Miguel Ruiz discusses in The Four Agreements the power of our words can lead us to happiness or misery. 

The power of our self-dialog is strong. Using the power of the pause will help to alleviate anxiety and stress as well. As we feel anxious or stressed, take time to stop and listen to the thoughts driving the emotions. Begin to assess these thoughts and ask “is this thought valid” and “can it be changed”. This strategy will help take control of anxiety and lessen our reaction. We can’t eliminate stress or anxiety but we can change our reaction to negative feelings by recognizing the source. If it is valid, we can take steps to correct and if it is not valid we can take steps to eliminate it. Every time we pause and reflect we build more control over where our thoughts lead us. Our efforts and energy go where our attention goes and creating a path towards our best life begin with a pause.