With the unexpected events over the last year, the Merrill family of senior living communities has put an emphasis on health and wellness for our team members and residents. We believe it is incredibly important to surround ourselves with experts and that is why we reached out to licensed psychologist Dr. Brie Everard, to guide us through these difficult times. We are happy to introduce her to you and asked her a few questions so you can get to know her better!
Dr. Brie's Background?
"I was raised in New Hampshire and attended undergrad at The Museum School of Fine Arts and Tufts University, Boston. I moved to Seattle 15 years ago and attended Antioch University Seattle, where I studied Drama Therapy, and eventually transferred over to their clinical psychology program. I have been in private practice since 2017 and I truly love the work I do."
Why is wellness and the ability to find ways to relieve stress so important, especially during this time?
"In non-COVID times, it is important to relax and take time for ourselves. And during COVID-19, it has become even more important but is often more difficult. COVID-19 has created stress and fear, not only fear for ourselves, but for the ones we care for. Stress can cause problems in our body as well as our emotional well-being. There are many ways to relieve stress and the most important step is to make time."
What do you suggest for people who are stressed or looking to improve their wellness?
"I always start with breathing. Taking time to focus on our breath is not hard and does not take much time. Meditation and yoga are great ways to focus on breathing, but starting off with taking 10 deep breaths, two times a day, can be a great place to start. A deep breath is when we inhale and the breath expands to our diaphragm and chest cavities. As we exhale, we do it with control.
Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress.
Giving ourselves permission to take time for ourselves can be really helpful. It is important to be aware of avoidance and escape. We often try to take time for ourselves, but if we do not address some of the issues that are on our minds we are not able to relax. Even writing down some of those thoughts before relaxing can be really helpful. It allows your brain a chance to stop thinking about stressors for a short time, knowing you will be going back to them when you are done relaxing."
What is the plan to support our team members?
"I am able to offer consultation on a multitude of topics from anxiety to grief and loss, ways of staying motivated, and creating hope. I am able to work with Merrill leaders to support their teams and offer talks on topics that are relevant to their needs. I have been working on focused groups, trying to come up with ways to provide more support to the residents without adding more stress to the staff. I am going to be making some short videos/tools on relevant topics that can be shared on a needed basis."
What is the plan to support residents?
"We are making some short informational videos to support the residents and their families. I am looking forward to having a time for families to submit questions that I then can answer for them.
I have also been working with an isolation team to find ways to support the residents who have been struggling with isolation."
What do you like about working with Merrill?
"Working with Merrill has been so much more than I could have hoped for. I have enjoyed being part of a team and it feels wonderful to be able to offer support and skills. Most importantly, I know the work Merrill does is so crucial, taking care of and supporting a generation that is often overlooked. Not only does Merrill support the families of the residents, it focuses on making sure the residents are not only safe, but Merrill is continually finding ways to improve their lives which makes a huge difference during such a difficult time. It is work that everyone associated with Merrill should be very proud of."
Any other tips or tricks that you’d suggest?
"Give yourself permission to feel and experience your feelings. We often try to suppress our more difficult emotions, but by doing that, we are not able to work through them. Even if you set aside 30 minutes at the end of the day, or every other day and check-in with yourself, it gives you some space to work through the hard stuff. Also, it is very important to celebrate the small victories."
We can't thank Dr. Brie enough for her incredible work and are so excited for what we can do for our Merrill family moving forward. We hope you can take a few exercises from Dr. Brie and that they help you in your everyday life!