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Kristen Fescoe: “Find ways to safely interact with others” with Dr. Ely Weinschneider

Amidst the hustle and bustle of our lives just a month ago, who had time to think about whether we were spending our time wisely. Now we have the chance to think about it long and hard. Was all that rushing really necessary? Were there things in our lives that really aren’t that important? Do […]

Amidst the hustle and bustle of our lives just a month ago, who had time to think about whether we were spending our time wisely. Now we have the chance to think about it long and hard. Was all that rushing really necessary? Were there things in our lives that really aren’t that important? Do we really WANT to go back to that same level of chaos when normalcy settles back in? What even is normal anymore?


As a part of my series about the the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristen Fescoe.

Kristen Fescoe is the Clinical Program Manager at Resility Health, a digital healthcare company using technology and behavioral science to help people manage the symptoms of stress. Kristen earned her Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from Drexel University. Upon graduation, she worked in the prison system of Philadelphia working with inmates diagnosed with PTSD and conducting research investigating treatments for various anxiety disorders.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Iknew very early on that the field of psychology was the right fit for me. From the first behavioral health course in high school, it became clear to me that this was a subject I felt passionate about.

When a lot of people are asked why they pursue careers in counseling and psychology — there is that obvious answer, wanting to help others. While this was definitely true for me, what drew me strongest was how fascinating the inner workings of the mind really were. The interplay between physiology and psychology led me to my undergraduate training at Rutgers University in psychology.

Once I started my studies I quickly found out that the field of psychology had more options than I ever imagined. From Health Psychology to Forensics, I was exposed to a range of interesting study areas.

After discovering an interest in forensic psychology, I opted to attend Drexel University because they were one of the few programs offering training in forensic psychology. I completed my coursework for a degree in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Forensic Psychology, which kept my future opportunities open. My internship found me working at two prisons in Philadelphia working with female inmates who had been diagnosed with both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and at least one additional mental health diagnosis. This work also was part of a research study led by Dr. Edna Foa at the University of Pennsylvania on the efficacy of Prolonged Exposure (PE) on the treatment of PTSD. I also spent several hours a week interning at a rape crisis center in Center City Philadelphia.

After graduating, I was invited to join the teaching staff at a local college and later became an adjunct professor of psychology at another college.

In addition to teaching, I completed several Industrial/Organizational Psychology projects that used the techniques and skills I had learned as a Forensic Psychologist and applied them to business settings. It was surprisingly satisfying to help businesses (especially start-ups and small businesses) succeed.

In 2016, I began working with a young startup that was using digital solutions to help people manage the physical impact of stress. I am currently the Clinical Manager of that company — Resility Health. Now, I get to use all of the skills I have learned in my academic training and my professional experience to help teenagers and their families overcome the serious impact of stress and societal pressure. I continue to teach college psychology and continue to work on additional I/O psychology projects.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The book that I felt most influenced by during my formative years was Alduous Huxley’s Brave New World. The dystopian tale was the first of its kind that I had ever read. I enjoyed that element of the book but what resonated strongly with me was the topic of identity formation. At a time when I was starting to think through what direction my entire life would take it struck me how important the process of identity formation is to a young person. When stripped of that ability, can a person have any real sense of identity.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Children will rethink what it means to learn

While there is obviously a lot of uncertainty right now, there is one thing that we can be certain of. The children of America are going to come out of this experience changed. I believe this change will be for the better and that should give a tremendous amount of hope for our future.

In the early weeks of this Quarantine there will likely be an overabundance of screen time and plenty of complaining. What is likely to happen as time goes on is that children nationwide are going to experience a shift in their education and their perspective.

Yes, there will be a subset who does little more than play video games. However, a large percentage of kids will be taking advantage of the myriad of online learning in so many areas. Their horizons will be broadened in ways that a traditional school education can’t.

As their school day expands beyond math and writing and starts to include art lessons from famous artists and astronomy from world-renowned scientists, the sky’s the limit. What is set to happen is a generation of learners will see their education in a whole new way.

Upturned families will create new narratives

Families being upturned might sound like a negative. The reality is, this could be the best thing that has happened to the American family unit in a long time. It’s so difficult to find the positive in a time like this. People are really sick, families are struggling, no one knows how this will end. That’s our new reality.

One silver lining to all the negative is that families have been pushed indoors and family narratives are changing. Our on-demand, always-on world has led families further and further apart. Parents have complained for years that they don’t get nearly enough time with their children, especially overscheduled teens and pre-teens.

This time together due to the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent social isolation means time together. Families are starting to see each other differently. Roles are changing in many families, and it can even be time to switch up roles in the family a little. Ultimately, this is an opportunity to strengthen family bonds and create a new narrative.

Families nationwide are evolving into a different kind of family unit. Those who previously spent little time together just weeks ago are now sharing responsibilities and working cohesively. Kids are taking on household chores they never have before. Spouses are splitting household obligations more evenly than ever before. Even when things do go back to “normal” this new family narrative has changed family dynamics permanently.

Priorities will be Reevaluated

This time of isolation has given people around the globe a unique opportunity to take a long look in the mirror. As the world seems to be in a holding pattern of “wait and see” it has provided time to think about our lives, our habits, and most importantly — our priorities.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of our lives just a month ago, who had time to think about whether we were spending our time wisely. Now we have the chance to think about it long and hard. Was all that rushing really necessary? Were there things in our lives that really aren’t that important? Do we really WANT to go back to that same level of chaos when normalcy settles back in? What even is normal anymore?

Many people are finding themselves wondering about their priorities and how they might change over the next weeks and months. This is a time to rethink priorities and create new and better patterns of behavior.

Times of crisis can bring out the best in people

While it almost seems cliche to point out, one very important piece of hope in all this strife is the tendency for crisis to bring out the best in people. Yes, you have your toilet paper hoarders and a fair amount of people behaving negatively. If you look closer, what you see even more is the positive side of human nature.

Neighbors are looking after their elderly neighbors. People are risking their own health to provide for those in need. Communities have banded together to create scavenger hunts and inspiration for the young. Nurses, doctors, first responders, grocery store workers, teachers and so many others working tirelessly to help move our society through this crisis. People have decided that we are in this seemingly disastrous experience together and be positive. People are staying strong even though they are facing a very scary time in history.

What’s unique about this occurrence compared with others in history is the commitment that people are showing to do right by others. In the face of natural disasters or similar times when people have had to band together, life tends to go back to “normal” within a very brief period of time.

In the unknown of the Coronavirus and consequent isolation, people are in this together for the long haul. As we take care of each other for weeks that very likely could turn into months, our society has been reshaped. Our health and the health of our great society depends on us all working together. This isn’t something that is just going to go away the day we are invited back into the public.

  1. Consider how our society will look when this comes to an end
  2. The brightest ray of light at the end of the tunnel that is getting many people through this historic time is the thought of how our society will look when this has passed. Imagine the day that we are told it’s safe. The danger has passed. The storm has calmed. Think of the day when we are allowed out of isolation and back to all the places we long for.
  3. Chances are, no one is signing up to slide right back into their old routine and their old schedule. Now that we have experienced this slower pace and this sense of community, things have changed forever. We have come together as family units, reprioritized our value systems, thought about what is important to us and learned to rely on our community at large. We may even find it’s impossible to go back to the same cutthroat pace we were living.

From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Create a safe home environment — Experts agree that the best way to get through social isolation both for kids and adults is to create a space that is predictable, consistent, responsive and nurturing. By keeping these four concepts in mind, you can help everyone in your household. Even those people who are isolated by themselves can benefit from these four key concepts.
  2. Help someone in need — The simple task of asking people if they need help can be a boost for both them and you. Call or text a neighbor, friends or loved one and ask what they need. You might not be able to go and help them in person but maybe they need help figuring out how to download a certain app or access movies through their smart tv. Maybe they just need someone to talk to. Helping someone else can help support that person but is also a great boost for your own emotions.
  3. Find ways to safely interact with others — One of the most important ways that we as humans feel positive, connected and grounded is through what are called safe social connections. These are the people who we interact with in positive ways on a regular basis. With social isolation and distancing it has become increasingly difficult for people to feel these safe social connections. This is why finding ways to safely interact with others is critical to support them. Video chat, set up an online game night with friends, invite an isolated friend to an online book club — whatever will help them feel that human connection.
  4. Support young people in your life — This is so important for teens and young people in your life. It might seem like they are adjusted to this new brand of normal and all is well. The problem is, you don’t necessarily know what they are being exposed to about the uncertain time we live in. Whether it’s social media, new online or their friends — chances are your children know more than you think they do.
  5. By giving them a safe space to talk and ask questions you can support them in the best way possible. Remember, encourage them to ask any questions they have, even the ones they think might be “dumb questions.” It’s better that you answer those questions than social media.
  6. Take care of your own mental health — Spending day after day cooped up with your family can lead to short tempers and surging stress levels. If you find yourself under a great deal of stress, it can seriously inhibit your ability to support the people around you. Take some time each day and focus on your own mental wellbeing to make sure that you are available to support the people around you.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

Right now the best thing that people can do to help minimize feelings of anxiety is to practice self-care. Practicing self-care is one of the best things you can do for both your mental and physical health. If you do it on a daily basis, it can be a game-changer for how you feel.

One of the simplest and easiest ways to practice self-care daily is to take a minute a couple of times a day and check-in with yourself. Because our brains are hardwired to react when we experience stress, every time stress and anxiety come into our consciousness we have a physical reaction. Science has proven that the same instinct we had to protect ourselves from the mountain lion lurking behind a rock is still activated when we experience stress.

To help diminish the anxiety caused by this reaction, take a minute or two to think about how you are feeling emotionally and physically. This simple step might be enough for you to identify that you are tensing your muscles and letting the worry take over. By taking a deep breath or calming your body when you feel stress, you can initiate a different response to calms and soothes both mind and body. Just a few minutes of self-care a day can leave you feeling calmer and less stressed.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Ben Franklin’s age-old quote is one of the most important. How often do we resign ourselves to starting that diet or exercise regimen tomorrow? Then how many times does tomorrow never come? This is true for most of us.

I, like so many people, knew that I could benefit from some kind of meditation or mindfulness — anything to help me deal with the stress of our always-on world. Like most people, I put it off. For years. I kept up with the mantra that soon I would start to include self-care as part of what I did to keep up with my health. It wasn’t until I found myself in my doctor’s office trying to explain my high blood pressure and other health issues that it dawned on me. Had I just started it back when I first thought of it (in college) where would I be?

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Self-care! The greatest gift we can give ourselves and those around us is to take care of our emotional wellness. We go to the gym, try to eat right, take our medications and vitamins, right? But how many people are actively trying to work on their emotional health?

The thing is, we can’t put a stop to our stress. Even now, when we are asked to stay at home and our schedules have been wiped clear — we now have a different variety of stress. If we can’t eliminate our stress, the next best thing is to change how it impacts us. Taking time to actively boost your emotional wellness can help you avoid the unwanted physical impact of stress and anxiety.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

I can be contacted at [email protected] and you can follow me at:

LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristen-fescoe-41066838/

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/ResilityHealth/

Twitter — https://twitter.com/resilityhealth

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/resilityhealth

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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