Originally featured in Women of Distinction Magazine: September 8, 2016
Q: A good deal of your coaching practice is centered on working with family caregivers. What are some of the challenges facing family caregivers today?
A: Their biggest challenge is to have a life of their own while caring full time for their loved one and not self-destruct in the process. I think it is so important to remember that in most cases, family caregivers never saw this responsibility coming. They didn’t go to school to learn how to be caregivers. They did not make a conscious decision to make a career in caregiving. They responded to a life-changing event, which usually involved a spouse, parent or child. They made the significant changes necessary to be fully present and care for that person. That is not only love and loyalty in action; it is the highest form of generosity. By in large, family caregivers go it alone. What community resources were available are now all but gone since the economic downturn of 2007. So my work with these clients is centered on finding ways to meet their self-care needs and in identifying ways to seek assistance. I am a huge proponent of the care model put forth by The Share the Care Organization. This not-for-profit organization conducts training programs to teach professional and family caregivers how to set up care circles. We usually have a group of friends and neighbors who would like to help but are not capable of rendering physical care. This care model focuses on what people can do. Perhaps you can help with marketing, lawn care, driving to doctor appointments, etc. Creating care circles allow others to help you and your loved one so that the responsibilities of your life do not become overwhelming.
Q: What is your approach to coaching?
A: My approach to coaching is to view my client as whole, competent and capable. I understand how challenging it can be to remain clear and authentic about ones goals and one self as you try to navigate your life. Responsibilities, setbacks and the demands of an adult life can overshadow a person’s understanding of the present and cloud his or her vision for the future. Our very human nature creates blind spots to options and solutions. My goal is to empower my client to access their own innate knowing and personal wisdom. I can support them as they explore where they are now, guide them in clarifying where they want to be, assist them in setting up a timeline, and support them efforts to attain their goals in a nonjudgmental manner.
Q: What is compassion fatigue?
A: It is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of your ability to render empathic care over time. Those at risk for the development of compassion fatigue include: nurses, social workers, first responders, special education teachers, and the family caregivers of those with chronic illnesses. Symptoms include but are not limited to, a decrease in experiences of pleasure practicing a profession you once loved, a sense of relentless stress, anxiety over the thought of going to work, and a pervasive negative attitude that creeps into all areas of your life. Long term, this can have devastating effects on your work performance and relationships and life.
Q: How can you start a person along the process of recovery from compassion fatigue?
A: Caregivers have a difficult time with the idea of receiving care therefore, acknowledging that you may be experiencing compassion fatigue and seeking help is a healthy first step. Everyone’s journey to the development of the syndrome is unique so there is no such thing as one approach fits all. However, the biggest hurdle to get over is to embrace the fact that you must take just as good care of yourself as you do others. It is vital to approach caregiving from a place of fullness and not try to render care when you are fueling yourself from the fumes of your compassionate nature. The airline industry really gives the best advice. Put your own oxygen on first, and then help the other person. A big part of recovery is to incorporate an adequate rest and self-care regimen into your life. This adaptation should be seen as a treatment for compassion fatigue and as a vaccination against developing the syndrome again.
Q: Why do you recommend a regular mindful practice for caregivers?
A: People who are drawn to human services are perpetual doers. They start doing from the minute they wake up and don’t stop until they fall asleep. They only way to add a sense of balance to that approach to life is to incorporate regularly scheduled times when we are just still and breathing. Doers are always in their head thinking about what they need to do and whom they need to do it for. So taking time to just sit and breathe, so that you are more aware of being in your body rather than stuck in the endless loop of thinking, can offer a much needed break from perpetual doing.
Q: What inspired you to write your book; Rediscover the Joy of Being a Nurse?
A: As I was crisscrossing the country speaking and coaching at various nursing events, I was deeply saddened by the degree of personal pain these nurses were struggling with every day. I felt the need to try to offer some guidance to those who felt so disconnected from something that meant so much to them. The insight the book offers is not centered on anything that we learned in nursing school. Rather, it is focused on the development of three vital life skills: the ability to adapt, the ability to make and sustain relationships and the ability to be resilient. I believe that cultivating these three life skills can help nurses refocus their attention on themselves and what they need to have a content professional and personal life for the long term.
Q: What has been the most successful marketing strategy for you?
A: Developing my relationship within the social networks on LinkedIn. I have found LinkedIn to be the most professional and powerful networking medium. Everyone using this platform is serious and looking to connect with other serious individuals. Engaging on LinkedIn is a commitment of time and effort but the return on my investment has been worth it. Many of my most important opportunities have been offered to me through LinkedIn.
Miss America 2016 – While other contestants sang, danced or played instruments for the talent competition on the second night of preliminaries in Atlantic City, Kelley Johnson, Miss Colorado, delivered a unique monologue about experience as a nurse.
Listen To Kelly Johnson share that Ellen is able to be funny without offending anyone…
Miss Colorado had so many nice things to say about Ellen during the Miss America pageant, it only seemed fair to let her elaborate in person! Ellen and her friends at Shutterfly happened to have something nice for her too.
Speaking at the High Level Meeting on “Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” convened during the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that the world “needs a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness.
The meeting was convened at an initiative of Bhutan, a country which recognized the supremacy of national happiness over national income since the early 1970s and famously adopted the goal of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product.
The General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 66/281 of 12 July 2012 proclaimed 20 March the International Day of Happiness recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.
The United Nations invites Member States, international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities.
This year’s International Day of Happiness is focused on Climate Action for a Happy Planet.
Everyone can be part of our campaign: governments, civic groups, the media and individuals. This year, even cartoon characters have joined in as the United Nations teams up with a group famous for lacking good cheer: the Angry Birds.
These animated ambassadors are helping to raise awareness about the importance of climate action for our common future. You can join them by sharing your own climate actions using the hashtag #AngryBirdsHappyPlanet.
At this time of grave injustices, devastating wars, mass displacement, grinding poverty and other manmade causes of suffering, the International Day of Happiness is a global chance to assert that peace, well-being and joy deserve primacy. It is about more than individual contentment; it is an affirmation that we have a collective responsibility to humanity.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our plan to realize a life of dignity for all people. By advancing progress towards the interlinked Sustainable Development Goals, we can help spread happiness and secure peace.
The best way to celebrate this International Day of Happiness is by taking action to alleviate suffering. In this spirit, let us use this occasion to renew a global spirit of solidarity to create a safer, more prosperous and more sustainable future for all.
Be kind to one another today and everyday
When you use compassionate communication in your conversations, something quite surprising occurs: both your brain and the brain of the person you’re talking to begin to align themselves with each other. This special bond is a phenomenon referred to as “neural resonance,” and in this enhanced state of mutual attunement, two people can accomplish remarkable things together. Why? Because it eliminates the natural defensiveness that normally exists when people casually converse.
The capacity to deeply relate to others is a key to all forms of relational success—at work and at home. If you find yourself in the position of overseeing others—be they your employees or your children—remember this: leaders who give the least amount of positive guidance to their subordinates are less successful in achieving their organizations’ goals, and the employees are unhappier with their work. Indeed, by not taking an active role in dialogue and teamwork building, they generate more interpersonal conflicts within their groups. Here are 6 steps to work on to become a more compassionate leader.
Step 1: Stay Present
When you focus intently on your breathing and relaxation, you pull your attention into the present moment. When we become completely absorbed in something as simple as breathing or relaxing a specific part of our body, the inner speech of everyday consciousness stops, at least momentarily, and this allows us to become aware of the subtle things that are immediately happening around us. We hear sounds we rarely notice, we feel more sensations in our body, and if we bring this “presentness” into a conversation, we hear more clearly the subtle tones of voice that give emotional meaning to the speaker’s words.
Step 2: Cultivate Inner Silence
Most of us are only able to stay relaxed and in the present moment for brief periods of time. Soon it gets interrupted by our inner speech. Research shows that you can suppress those distracting feelings and thoughts, but you have to practice doing it over and over until you gain control.
The more you consciously think about not thinking—as a formal training exercise—the more you gain voluntary control over the brain’s spontaneous cascade of inner speech and cognition. We especially need to develop the skill to remain silent so that we can give our fullest attention to what other people say. Unconsciously they will know when we’re distracted by our inner speech, and the lack of interest they perceive will make them distance themselves from you. Thus in active communication, silence is not the enemy.
Step 3: Access a Pleasant Memory
It’s best to enter a conversation with an inviting expression that conveys kindness, compassion, and interest. But as we explained in the previous chapter, this facial expression cannot be faked. It can be elicited by tapping into a pleasant memory, particularly one that involves people you deeply love and respect. This memory softens the muscles around your eyes and evokes a gentle half smile on your face.
When another person sees this expression, it stimulates a feeling of trust in their brain. The recollection of pleasant memories will also release pleasure chemicals throughout your own body and brain, and this will take you into an even deeper state of relaxation. When you look directly into the other person’s eyes as you maintain this loving memory, they will want to engage you in a dialogue. Their facial expression will resonate with yours, and this will deepen the sense of contentment and satisfaction in both of you. As researchers at Loyola University Chicago demonstrated, contentment gives rise to mutually benevolent engagements.
Step 4: Observe Nonverbal Cues
“Keep your eyes on the ball.” It’s an expression used in sports and often applied to business, but when it comes to interpersonal relationships, it’s essential to keep your eyes on the individual you are conversing with in order to discern the many nonverbal messages we constantly send to others. However, this does not mean that you should gaze unceasingly at the other person—that could feel invasive—but if you maintain softness in your eyes, generated by a pleasant memory, the other person won’t want to take their eyes off you!
Eye contact stimulates the social-network circuits in your brain. It decreases the stress chemical cortisol, and it increases oxytocin, a neurochemical that enhances empathy, social cooperation, and positive communication.
Step 5: Speak Briefly
Compassionate communication has a basic rule: whenever possible, limit your speaking to thirty seconds or less. And if you need to communicate something essential to the listener, break your information into even smaller segments—a sentence or two—then wait for the person to acknowledge that they’ve understood you.
It’s a hard concept to embrace. Why? The best reason we know of is that our busy minds have not been able to clearly formulate the essence of what we want to convey, so we babble on, externalizing the flow of information generated by our inner speech.
Our conscious minds can only retain a tiny bit of information, and for thirty seconds or less. Then it’s booted out of working memory as a new set of information is uploaded. Our solution: honor the golden rule of consciousness and say only a sentence or two. Then pause and take a small deep breath, to relax. If the other person remains silent, say another sentence or two, and then pause again. This allows the other person to join in whenever they feel the need to respond or to ask for clarification. If you must speak for a longer period of time, forewarn the listener. This will encourage them to pay closer attention to you and to ignore their own intrusive inner speech.
Step 6: Listen Deeply
To listen deeply and fully, you must train your mind to stay focused on the person who is speaking: their words, tone, gestures, facial cues—everything. It’s a great gift to give to someone, since to be fully listened to and understood by others is the most commonly cited deep relationship or communication value.
When the other person pauses—and hopefully they’ll have enough self-awareness not to ramble on and on—you’ll need to respond specifically to what they just said. If you shift the conversation to what you were previously saying, or to a different topic, it will interrupt the neurological “coherence” between the two of you, and the flow of your dialogue will be broken.
When practicing compassionate communication, there’s usually no need to interrupt. If the other person doesn’t stop talking, they may be giving you an important clue. Perhaps their mind is preoccupied, or perhaps they are deeply caught up in their own feelings and thoughts. If this is the case, it’s unlikely that they will be able to listen deeply to what you want to say.
Hundreds of primary school children in Berkshire have had meditation classes introduced into their timetables.
As Nikki Mitchell reports, the ‘mindfulness’ teaching aims to help them manage their own behavior and anxieties, and improve their concentration
Fire up your energy chakras to rebalance your energy and feel more alive.
As someone who counsels caregivers, I’ve found that many suffer energy deficits that I can “see” in their aura. Everyone has an aura, an enveloping, protective field of electromagnetic particles that can extend from a few inches to as far as several yards beyond our physical body. Each person has a dynamic, unique aura that vibrates and changes in response to one’s health, attitude, environment, and life experience. The aura is constantly shifting in size, shape, and color, depending on a person’s thoughts and emotions. The frequency at which your aura is vibrating can influence what and whom you attract into your life.
Our aura consists of seven major layers, each powered by one of the corresponding seven major energy centers known as chakras. When a chakra is “blocked,” a wide range of mental, emotional, and physical conditions can present. Maintaining a healthy, balanced chakra system can result in sustaining a bright, vibrant aura fully capable of enhancing your perception and achieving harmony while protecting you from harm.
So what is a chakra?
Chakra is a Sanskrit word that means spinning wheel. These cone-shaped rotating energy vortexes control the flow of subtle energies that serve as a connection between our spiritual and physical bodies. They are vertically aligned and are located at strategic points from the base of the spine (root chakra) to the top of the head (crown chakra). Each center vibrates at a frequency that is usually undetectable by the human eye and produces a resonance to a specific color, scent, and sound as individual as a fingerprint.
They represent energy
Each chakra is a focal point for spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental energies, the network through which the mind, body, and spirit interact as one holistic system. Each corresponds to specific aspects of our consciousness and has their own individual characteristics and functions. The goal in working with and understanding chakras is to create a sense of wellbeing, integration, and wholeness within ourselves, to help us make our choices and decisions from a place of being centered, balanced, and aware, rather than being influenced by external forces or out-of-control emotions.
An Overview of the Chakra System
|1St ChakraBase/Root||Base of the spine, coccyx||Red||Physical security, survival, sense of belonging||Materialistic, self-centered, bullying||Fearful, low self esteem, needy||High physical energy, grounded, self-mastery|
|2nd ChakraSacral||From below the navel to above the hips||Orange||Group relationships, humor, self-control, ability to flow with change||Manipulative, strong personal power needs||Overly sensitive, hard on oneself, feels guilt for no reason||Trusting, expressive, understands ones personal needs, creative, honors relationships|
|3rd ChakraSolar Plexus||From above the navel to below the sternum||Yellow||Relationship with yourself, acceptance of your place in the word, self esteem||Angry, controlling, workaholic, judgmental||Overly concerned about the opinions of others, needs constant reassurance||Spontaneous, respects self and others, has true personal power|
|4th ChakraHeart||Across the chest extending to the fingertips||Green||Love, ability to forgive, compassion||Co-dependent, possessive, offers love on condition, withholds emotions to punish, dramatic||Feels unworthy to receive love, fears rejection,||Loves unconditionally, nurturing|
|5th ChakraThroat||From above the shoulders to below the nose||Blue||Communication clear expression||Self -righteous, dogmatic, arrogant||Cannot speak ones truth, inconsistent,||Good communicator, artistic, inspired|
|6th ChakraIntuition||From above the nose to the level of the eye brows||Indigo||The ability to perceive and understand what is going on around you, understanding spiritual information||Excessive worry, intense dreams, anxiety, phobias||Fear of success, undisciplined||The ability to have insights & experience unusual phenomena, highly intuitive, little attachment to material things|
|7th ChakraCrown||Top of the head||Violet||Connection to higher power, spirituality||Difficulty dealing staying in and dealing with reality||Inability to make decisions, materialism||Magnetic personality, at peace with self|
Methods for Balancing Your Energy Centers
Whether you’re an exhausted caregiver or just someone whose chakra energy is unbalanced, there are specific things you can do to rebalance your energy and feel better.
Eat Food Rich In Color:
Use Color Breathing:
Bring Color Into Your Environment:
Do Visualization Exercises:
Adopt a Mantra:
Caregiving is a marathon not a sprint. It is vital that you take good care of yourself so that you can remain healthy while caring for others. I hope these simple methods help you begin to achieve that sense of health, happiness, and wellbeing that is your birthright. All the best in the New Year from my home to yours, Om – Ma – Ni – Pad – Me – Hum: I honor the life force within you.