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Ask a Therapist

CEO & Founder of Colorado Women’s Center, Kendra Miguez, Answers Questions From Three Women

Article by Emily O'Brien

Photography by Illustrator Grey Grimm

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Colorado Women’s Center's mission is to help women find self-acceptance through therapy and counseling to create positive connections that will lead a more fulfilling life. With a focus on female empowerment, their therapists help women of all ages become who they were meant to be by knocking down barriers set by internal limitations. 

CEO and founder Kendra Miguez has spent many years in the field of psychotherapy and counseling, helping women access personal empowerment and freedom. Whether through individual or couples counseling, Kendra believes that anything is possible if you’re willing to put in the work necessary for transformation. 

Today she answers three questions about adjusting to a new normal post-pandemic.

My office wants us to start going back part-time, but I'm kind of dreading going back to "normal." I feel really happy working from home! Is there any way to ease the transition stress?

Kendra Miguez: For many of us who have learned to adapt to Zoom calls and a two-dimensional world, going back to work in person has created high levels of stress and anxiety. This is mostly due to having so much time away from external stimulation. 

The best way to re-integrate is to start off slowly, therefore splitting time between working from home and at the office is ideal. However, whether you are required to go back part- or full-time, there are skills that can be effective for social anxiety, which many people are experiencing as a result of quarantine. 

Breathing techniques are extremely effective for regulating the nervous system. My favorite is the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. This particular breathing pattern focuses on reducing anxiety and can also assist with sleep. 

Another tool is constant check-ins and self-evaluation. Tune into your thoughts and physical sensations throughout the day. Name what you are feeling. If you are anxious, notice what the anxiety feels like in your body and say to yourself, “My heart is beating faster. My throat is closing. This is anxiety.” Oftentimes naming our internal experience, will get us out of the spin effect that the mind creates. It allows us to find the space between the stimulus and response. 

The only thing I really loved about the pandemic was adding back in more "me time." How do I maintain a healthy balance between work and social life?

Kendra Miguez: For those that were fortunate to come out of the pandemic with a healthy mindset, it is important to hold onto the lessons gained from that experience. The time we were granted for self-care and ordinary moments was a gift and for many, it took a pandemic to slow down. 

Maintaining a healthy balance between work and social life means making yourself a priority—something that many people, especially women, have a hard time doing. There is always time for a hike, a yoga class or lunch with a friend. We just have to block off this time the same way that we would an important work meeting. The truth is we are better for everyone around us when we take the time to care for ourselves. 

So schedule time for yourself and track your threshold for connection. Tuning into your internal experience will allow you to know when to say “Yes” and when to say “No.”

I feel anxious about being out and about in the world again, much more than I expected! Why do everyday tasks feel so overwhelming and exhausting?

Kendra Miguez: Connecting with others takes a great deal of energy—particularly for those that are more introverted. There was a comfort to going inward that the pandemic provided. There was less room for mistakes and judgment. 

When we are alone, we do not have anyone reflecting back our image. These reflections that happen when relating to other people are information on how to adapt to our environment. Without that information, we can feel scared and out of practice. Learning how to interact with the world again takes a lot of effort, which can leave you overwhelmed and exhausted. 

As time goes on, it will become easier. It’s important to remember that it’s OK to take your time as you find a rhythm of normalcy. Be mindful of how much you put on your plate and know that you are not alone, which ironically may have been one of the greatest lessons of the pandemic.