Have You Breathed Today?

Licensed Clinical Social Worker continues offering her safe space, emphasizing slowing down and focusing on your mental health.

The title sure makes you think, wouldn’t you say? Of course we breathed today. We couldn’t function otherwise. But Licensed Clinical Social Worker Nicole Guyette says it’s a legitimate question. She says, “Even stopping and listening to their own bodies—what do I feel? What am I thinking about with what’s happening? What do I need right now? Am I hungry? Do I need sleep? Have I drank enough water today? Some people are moving so fast they aren’t even checking in, in that way.” Sound familiar to anyone? This article invites you to slow down and figure out what *you* need, which is a concept that can sometimes be viewed as selfish. Guyette says it’s not. Instead, it’s a life-altering concept to adopt. If you’re a parent, caretaker, or natural giver, view this gentle advice not as putting yourself and your needs *above* others, but making your well-being at least as important as everyone else’s.    


Nicole Guyette Breathe 


Guyette’s practice, tucked away in Downtown Reno on Court Street, has seen a large increase in patients seeking mental health assistance over the past two years. As she explains, “[There has been] a big spike in anxiety. Lots of people are struggling with isolation and loneliness, and in some cases despair…struggling with fear about their own physical health and whether or not they’re able to find employment that is sustainable for them.” Washoe County isn’t alone. The World Health Organization says COVID-19 should be a wake up call to all countries to increase mental health support and services, adding that, during 2020, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25%. Guyette says her practice is averaging six to eight calls a week from people who are still searching for a provider. “A lot of people are also struggling with anxiety about the climate and climate change and global warming and ‘what does the future look like for me’ and ‘how do I plan for that and what do I do?’”  


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“One of the struggles Reno has is that there are not enough providers for people, and there’s a trend with some providers where they’re not taking insurance anymore because it’s not cost-effective to do that. Which means people, even those with really good insurance, can’t find a provider to take their insurance so we have a waitlist in our community—up to six months long sometimes—for therapy. And when you’re looking for specialty therapy, that sometimes is even harder.” Wow. Hard times; new changes; health concerns; and, for some, there is literally nowhere to turn due to so many obstacles. Guyette says it’s crucial to continue offering her safe space. “It’s hard because the things that we ordinarily would do—call friends, go hang out, go have dinner with family—not only could we not do during the pandemic, people are finding it harder to do because they’re struggling with how to make ends meet. They’re picking up extra jobs, working extra hours so they don’t have the same amount of time to actually connect with other people even.” “Pain is not comparative. Our pain is our pain, so it is our responsibility to honor that and seek help and support if that’s really what’s helpful for us, and not using ‘someone else has it worse’ as a barrier to taking care of ourselves or honoring our own worth.” When we’re in crisis or feel despair, the little things are the only things. And she stresses the importance of not putting your well-being on the bottom of your lengthy to-do list.


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“I have one of the best jobs in the world, I think, because everyday I get to talk to people who are figuring out what they want their life to be about and getting better. We get to, together, reduce the impact that trauma has on their lives. We get to shrink it. We get to work on what a life that YOU want to live looks like, and how can we ask trauma to take a step back and not get in the way?”

She tears up as she continues, “It’s really an honor to get to work with people and walk alongside them on this journey. Being present and experiencing our moment to moment can create opportunities for meaningful connections with ourselves and others.”

Society doesn’t always allow or uplift these notions. We’re not always taught at home, our jobs, or at school to pause and breathe. Productivity and profit lead the way, which places these critical conversations out of sight. If you can’t meet your own needs, it’s going to be difficult to have your internal gas tank full of hope. As she details, “Some people operate at a deficit for decades. It doesn’t take very long. It can take a couple of minutes to recognize, wow, my body is really reflecting that I’m tired, I need water, and, oh, I forgot to eat lunch, right? I mean how often do we do that?” Sound familiar? I sure am thankful for Guyette’s compassionate and tender reminders about self check-ins!

She continues, “We sort of carry around this armor of busyness, but really it’s armor. It’s kind of preventing ourselves from being real and being in the moment and really connecting with other people.” She says this reference comes from renowned author, professor, and podcast host Brene Brown. Not to mention the generational ways men are taught emotions compared to women. Little boys are often told not to cry, even in their toddler stage, and to “toughen up”.  


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Guyette is not able to accept any new clients right now, but she did mention a handful of resources that you can utilize at this very moment if you are in a place of discouragement, considering self-harm, or simply in need of an unbiased ear to discuss the human experience of living on planet Earth. 988 is the National Suicide Lifeline, which operates 24-7-365. There’s also a free smart-phone app called virtual hope box that some people like to customize for distractions and coping skills: Virtual Hope Box on the App Store (apple.com) Here’s another helpful resource Guyette suggests: Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist So, again I ask—have you breathed today? Do it now. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for four seconds, and release it through your mouth. Never forget that it is always okay to ask for help. It’s incredibly healthy to do so.