Treating pandemic-related stress
Jeneba O’Connor has diverse passions, teaching, yoga and counselling.
Exactly a year ago she brought her passions together into Metanoia Counseling and Yoga Services.
She offers traditional talk and behavioural therapy, but also helps her clients with restorative yoga.
“I am trying to get the word out there that your body is the most successful tool you have for healing, not just medication, although medication is really beneficial for some people,” she said.
Looking back, she said at times the last year went by in a blur, and at other times seemed to go by very slowly.
In March she was in the middle of her first eight-week yoga therapy course for stress, anxiety and depression.
“Things were going very well,” she said. “I had eight students.”
Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit Bermuda and the island went into lockdown. Her course came to a premature end. She had to close her doors just as things were getting busy.
She offered teletherapy during lockdown, but definitely saw a decline in clients.
“People were in survival mode,” she said. “Through the most intensive months of the pandemic, people were adjusting to working from home. They were parent teaching and just trying to make sure their physical needs were met.”
But almost as soon as Bermuda began to reopen, the phone started ringing again. People needed her help more than ever. Her clients are typically people ages 20 to 65 struggling with everything from anxiety and depression to stress and relationship issues.
When Bermuda came out of lockdown some of her regular clients reached out to her for help, but she also saw many new faces.
“I think they had internalised a lot of stress during the pandemic,” she said. “They thought, I really need to process this.
“I think some people felt numb afterwards. They were not quite sure what they were feeling and there was a lot of hesitancy and uncertainty to start work again.
“Some people were trying to navigate family issues during the pandemic, which were made even worse from having to see each other 24 hours a day. There was more anxiety after.”
Ms O’Connor was grateful that she could be there to offer her services. After working part-time at Benedict and Associates for two years, she earned her master's degree in clinical mental health counselling from Walden University’s online programme in 2018.
She opened Metanoia in November 2019.
“It is something I didn’t think I would do so quickly after doing my graduate work,” she said, “but I am glad I did it.”
She said a lot of people do not realise the amount of work that goes into creating a new business.
“There is setting things up and getting customers,” she said. “There is financial work. There is paperwork and red tape. You don’t get to stop a whole lot. You are just continuing to be busy and involved.”
One of her biggest challenges has just been getting the word out there about Metanoia. She advertises regularly on social media and also through word of mouth.
“There is a lot of competition out there with different counselling agencies on the island,” she said. “What has been most difficult has been making my business stand out from the others in terms of what I offer, and really making it something that people are interested in. That has been a challenge.”
Going forward into Metanoia’s second year, she wants to service small companies that might want to offer counselling to their employees free of charge.
“I think it can really help with productivity when people know that there is a free mental health service available through their job,” she said.
Ms O’Connor said we are living in a high-pressure, stressful world.
“Some people are working six or seven days a week,” she said. “Some people are juggling kids and the pandemic. Some people are not happy in their job. They feel like they are going all the time and are not able to get in tune with themselves. When things start to get off balance they feel the need to talk about it and process it.”
She has held the first session of The Yoga of 12-Step Recovery, an addiction relapse prevention support group, and in January she will offer again her yoga therapy for depression, anxiety and stress.
“I find that January is when people have this downturn,” she said. “They have had fights over Christmas with their families. They may be experiencing stress, and financial issues and it all builds up. After Christmas, people need a boost.”
For more information see www.metanoiacounseling.net, call 704-1097 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see them on Facebook @metanoiabda and on Instagram @metanoia_counseling