Suicide close to home

 

My cousin Frank committed suicide. At first it seemed unbelievable, a shock to all who knew him. How could this happen with no warning?

Then you start to talk to other family members, ex- wife, kids: none of them were surprised. Is this how  all families hide or ignore depression?  A few people knew he had struggles in the past, most of the family had no idea.  Were we looking?

Why?

I believe this question has no good answer. Those who are left behind after a suicide get to all ask why, Why now? Why didn’t he reach out? Why did I not stay in better touch?

Why?

In my immediate family we share information, not emotions. We share general ideas, not struggles. We support each other by action and deed. We are not good at asking for help.

I got a flight home to NJ to be with family for the service and to re connect with those that I love. What I learned is that families can evolve. My brother struggled to process how anyone could reach that point of despair where you cannot see ahead and get stuck in the dark recess of your mind. The answer here is my brother has the ability no matter how difficult the situation to see ahead and be certain that he will be OK.  Not everyone has that level of faith.  Suicide touches all of us. Supporting each other in seeing ahead to the future is what we can do now. The next generation is asking more questions and sharing more real emotions with each other.

Ask and Listen

I believe when you ask better questions of each other, you get better information and honest sharing.

Be open

Be honest

Share the whole messiness of your life with those you love.

Keep asking

Listen with your heart.

Mediate for Unconditional Friendship with Yourself

 

I thought meditation was about being calm and getting grounded.

 What I learned from listening to *Pema Chondron is more interesting. Her definition of meditation is that to mediate you are learning to develop unconditional friendship with yourself.

 That sitting and listening to your mind as it runs around all over the place takes patience and understanding. When you meditate you are seeking to just accept you wherever you are, however you are feeling right now. 

Meditate for unconditional friendship with yourself

What is unconditional friendship? 

An unconditional friend: listens and accepts me for who I am. A friend who doesn’t try to change, improve or fix me. If I meditate with the idea that I can be my own unconditional friend: this allows me to experience meditation as a journey of discovery. I am no longer trying so hard to do it right. What a relief.  

I have learned from experience within the Quaker tradition of Sunday Meeting, that sitting in silence with a group brings synergy and energy to the quiet space of reflection.

The challenge for me now is to have an individual practice of quiet meditation.

Mediation is becoming my quiet space in the morning. It is simply a way to set up my day. A place to breathe and be still is a way to feel grounded for the rest of the day.

Do I meditate every day? No. I am practicing on myself. I allow myself the freedom to sit quietly for 1 min or 10 min,  and let any choice be acceptable. I am striving to keep making those choices that support my needs. 

I gain value with meditation as a practice. Practice is not about perfection, just experience. That small difference is very important. Practice to learn. Unconditional friendship starts within.

*Living with Vulnerability. Pema Chondron. Sounds True.

Compassion Fatigue from a Coaching perspective: Build Emotional Muscles

 I am taking a coach approach to compassion fatigue today . So instead of quoting you statistics and all the studies that demonstrate why you are at risk . I want to ask you to look into your behaviors and actions that you can manage while you work in a high risk environment. In coaching our studies demonstrate that your personal beliefs drive your actions and your choices on a daily basis. Some of these beliefs were taught or handed down from our families, some we get from messages from society , our peers or our friends, Not all of these beliefs are helpful or useful,   Compassion fatigue from a coaching perspective involves helping you building your own emotional muscles by reflecting on on your current patterns and actions.

Veterinary professionals are known for their love and passion for pets and animals. This passion, coupled with positive and negative outcomes of the work they do, puts veterinary professionals in a position to face compassion fatigue in their lives. Health care professionals are at risk due to the high cost of caring for others in emotional and physical pain. This is a complex issue, so please remember this post is just a starting point to increase your awareness of what you can do for yourself in a high risk profession.

How to lower your risk of compassion fatigue?

Building up your emotional muscles or gaining skills that help you to adapt to stressful situations will build up your emotional resilience.

What do resistant people do? Can you learn these skills? Yes

Who are your support systems? 

Friends, family, co- workers- having a social network who supports you and each other will boast your resilience level and lower your  stress level.

Self care is critical, not optional

Self care- develop a self care system that supports you in your personal. emotional, mental and physical health. Learn to say no to request for your time. Strong reasonable boundaries will help reduce the impact of compassion fatigue

Pause here and write down 3 things you know help you recharge your battery

Develop a positive outlook

Appreciate and give yourself credit along the way- 

Celebrate the small steps of progress – random acts of kindness- all these small things add up to give us a sense of satisfaction and purpose for each day- if we look for them

What we focus on grows

 What do you do to recognize your success or daily positive events? What could you do to pay more attention to them?

Accept the fact that change is constant

 Things, people and situations around you will change on a regular basis you will need to change along with it.

One thing we seek as humans is certainty- knowing what will happen, gathering information -understanding the future and making plans- having certainty is reassuring- it makes us comfortable

Yet life is full of uncertainty- so being able to deal with a level of uncertainly is part of building up our emotional muscles.

 I hope that I have  given you ideas on how resilient people deal with stress- skills and behaviors that are learned

 I have asked you to reflect on how your beliefs impact your choices and asked you to consider how actions can support your or hinder you with your own goals.

Finally I would like to stress the value of self -care

Is what you are currently doing enough to sustain you in this profession?

 What are your barriers? What gets in the way? What steps would you need to take to start making changes that would impact you in a positive way

Please write down one step you will commit to taking next week that will support your personal self care goals.

Start talking to your peers or friends, you do not have to walk this path alone.

Coaching is one support system that can help you deal with compassion fatigue .

 It is easy to say, just take better care of yourself. It is not that easy to implement in a high stress, busy health care profession.

 You deserve and need an advocate and support system to create changes that will build up your emotional muscles and reduce the risk of compassion fatigue in your daily life.

 Contact Coach Gwen for a personal complimentary strategy session.

As  healthcare professional for over 30 years, I am fluent in the language of secondary trauma from caring for others. 

Why we need connections to thrive

 

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” ~ Brené Brown

I love this definition of connections by Brene Brown. The essence of connections is based on the value that they bring to our lives.  Not just how many friends or relatives do you have. Not just how many people know you. Who do you value in life? How do you add value to their lives?

As we go into this Thanksgiving weekend, it is a good time to reflect on the people in our lives.

How can I show my gratitude to those important connections in my life?

What am I doing to sustain those connections?

Am I accepting of my friends and family, just as they are?

A good week to reflect on our valuable connections and how we can support each other with positive energy and strength.

Contact Coach Gwen for more tools.   Schedule a coaching call

Your first strategy coaching call is free.

 

When you get Stuck: Slow down to Speed up

 

When I get stuck, it is usually I have too many things in my brain at one time. I cannot pick what to do or where to start.  I have too much information. Too many choices create stress and anxiety. I have to slow down to speed up.

 

What does slow down to speed up mean?

 

Slow down means to stop and think. Sit and plan before you act. Set up your day by thinking first. Getting a list on paper to capture what is important right now. Consider what things can be passed to others, done later or not at all.  Once you have a plan that makes sense: you then can speed up because you have the priority of your actions set up.

 

Urgency and stress start in our brains

 

Everything is not urgent. Very few things are actually urgent.

 

What one thing is the most important thing to accomplish today?

That one question can save you time and stress.

 

Think before you act.

Plan ahead.

Slow down to speed up.

Contact Coach Gwen for more tools.   Schedule a coaching call

Your first strategy coaching call is free.

Is Mindful Eating Stressful for Busy People?

Mindful eating as a practice is great.  Mindful eating can reduce stress by slowing down to pay attention to what you eat. Is mindful eating stressful for busy people?

If mindful eating just another goal that you are too busy to attempt it can create more stress.  How you approach mindful eating makes it simple or stressful.

Why is it so difficult to slow down and pay attention to your food?

Grab and go has become the standard when you run out of time. Fast food has drive through windows for the busy person who can eat while driving to the next appointment. Schedules are hectic, so you are busy doing other things while you eat. Feeling bad about what and how you eat just creates another stress factor.

What is Mindful eating?

Mindful eating is simply paying attention to the food that you eat. Treating your meals as a specific activity that requires your full attention.  Paying attention to how you feel, how food tastes and how you react to specific food choices.

What are the benefits of Mindful eating?

You slow down your eating time. That allows your brain to catch up and signal you when you are full. You give yourself a break by avoiding multitasking for a short period of time each day.

  • You learn to eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel full
  • You learn to appreciate the taste of food, which leads to thoughtful choices about what you eat.
  • You pay attention to how you feel based on the types of food you just ate.

Consider taking just one small step towards mindful eating. Pick a meal or time that you can commit to paying attention to your food. Be consistent even if you only choose one meal a week. This will lead to success instead of stress.

  •  Eat only when you are actually hungry
  • Listen to your body and stop eating when you feel full
  • Give eating your full attention: Avoid eating in front of the TV

Mindful eating can help you make better choices for healthy options. Pick one aspect of mindful eating to focus on at a time. Be consistent so that you develop the habit of  food awareness. Keep it simple. Enjoy what you eat.

Contact Coach Gwen for more tools.   Schedule a coaching call

Your first strategy coaching call is free.

 

 

 

Use your brain instead of willpower to lose weight

 

Use your brain instead of willpower  to lose weight. Your brain is the secret key to eating healthy and losing weight. It is not a lack of will power, motivation  or being lazy that stops your from losing weight. Your subconscious mind makes 90-95 % of your decisions for you. Which means most of your food choices are based on your habits and past patterns. You make those choices because it is easy, not because you lack motivation or willpower.

The secret key to eating healthy is to use your brain to create a system with a step by step plan that makes it easier for you to choose the heathy options.  Set up all of your food choices early in the day.  Avoid making decisions about food at the end of the day when you are tired and hungry.

Plan ahead.

Plan out menus, have a list before you go to the store. Make your lunch the day before. Prep for dinners ahead of time. Anything you do that creates a system for making the healthy choice simple. Ask for help from family or friends to support your new system.

Motivation for eating healthy is reinforced by hanging out with other people who eat healthy.  Encourage others who want to be healthy. Make social plans around walks instead of pizza and beer.

 You have a limited amount of willpower

Willpower lags over the day based on how many decisions you have to make. If you look at a doughnut 5 times, you are more likely to eat that doughnut. So keep food that is not part of your plan, out of sight. I have never understood the rationale for keeping a dish of candy on your desk. I even consider it a bit mean to other people around you, because you are asking them to use energy to avoid or make a food choice every time they walk by your desk. Why would you encourage others to eat candy, if you are committed to cutting back on candy yourself?

Set small goals

Pick one food type to eliminate or pick one meal to make healthy. Make your goal easy enough that you can be consistent in achieving it. That consistent behavior creates the system that makes your brain automatically support that habit. Keep it simple. Simple builds success.

Why is making a change so difficult? It is easy to fall back on your past habits. It requires a focused effort to create a new habit.

Need more help setting up your brain for success?  Contact Coach Gwen for more tools.

First strategy coach call is free.

Contact Coach Gwen   Schedule a coaching call

 

 

Join the 10-day Healthy Eating Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is a 10 day Healthy Eating Challenge? It is a 10-day commitment to be mindful of your eating habits and focus on healthy eating. It forces you to read labels and be mindful of your daily choices. The value of evaluating what you are eating on a regular basis supports making a few changes that will improve your habits as a lifestyle change. This is not a diet. Diets don’t work. This is a wake up call to pay attention to how you fuel your body.

 

Why take this 10-day Healthy Eating challenge?

Joining a group effort gives you motivation to make changes. 10 Days is long enough to increase your awareness and let you feel a difference in energy levels, sleep patterns and how you feel overall.

The rules are simple. For 10 days you only eat real food. Eat nothing that has added sugar in it. Drink lots of water. Fruit has natural sugar, fruit juice has added sugar, so eat the real fruit. Fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, anything that you can buy in it’s natural state. That means, nothing that is processed or comes out of a box. No drinks that have added sugar. Start by reading labels. You will be surprised how many of your normal food choices have added sugar in them. You will have to plan ahead. Many of our choices are based on time, so grab and go makes life easy.

Why am I doing this? I am doing this because I need to reset my habits. Life has been hectic and stressful lately and I feel like I am off track. I feel better, my skin is looks better and I sleep better when I stick to real food. Pick a date to start, plan ahead with your menu and food choices. If you need some help, reply below and I will send you meal plan for ideas.

So join me this April in a 10-day Healthy Eating Challenge. You will reap the benefits from this simple challenge that creates mindful eating as a lifestyle change.

Got questions?  Contact Coach Gwen below.

Sugar – What you don’t know about added sugar can Hurt you

 

What you don’t know about added sugar can hurt you

The average person takes in 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. Yet the recommenced amount by the American Heart Association is just 6 tsp for women and 9 tsp for men daily. This is added sugar, not counted is the natural occurring sugar in fruit or foods with fiber. A typical soda has 8 tsp of added sugar. What you don’t know about added sugar can hurt you.

How does this added sugar hurt you?

Ten reasons why sugar is bad for you

  1. Sugar is the biggest cause of obesity- sugar intakes drives insulin, which is our fat storing hormone. Sugar is addictive and stimulates our appetite to eat more.
  2. Sugar is the biggest cause of Type 2 diabetes- changing lifestyle and eating habits can help someone in the pre diabetic stage to avoid the life long consequences of diabetes. (Type 2 diabetes only).
  3. Sugar is related to cardiac health and high blood pressure. The extra insulin in your bloodstream can affect your arteries or circulation system in a way that adds stress to your heart
  4. Sugar gives you tooth decay. Snacks and sweets that are loaded with sugar contribute to tooth decay and tooth lose at any age
  5. Sugar crowds out nutritious foods. When you fill up on junk or sugar packed food, you are eating more food with less nutritious content. Creating a lifestyle of being over fed and undernourished.
  6. Sugar is linked to depression. The state of having high and low blood sugars impacts our moods and energy levels.
  7. Sugar is linked to inflammation- this extra sugar can worsen joint pain
  8. Sugar makes your skin age faster. Sugar attaches to proteins in your blood stream and creates harmful molecules that age your skin faster than normal.
  9. Eating sugar gives your brain an immediate boost with a chemical called dopamine. So you feel good immediately, however you start to crave more sugar to keep that feeling. This is the cycle of sugar addition.
  10. Extra sugar at night means you are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night.

Pick any one of these reasons as good enough to start changing your sugar habits.

Reading labels is key. Eating real food and avoiding processed or fast food will help more than anything.

 

https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/how-sugar-affects-your-body

 

Why are you in such a Hurry?

 

 

Do you push yourself to meet every deadline?

Do you consider every task a top priority?

Do you multi-task every thing?

Do you feel guilty when you have free time?

You quality for a new group  of behaviors called excessive- time- urgency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are you in such a hurry? Because you excessively worry about schedules and rush as a habit even when it is not necessary to hurry.

 Why hurry up no matter what?

I realized that my father was rushed and rushing us when going places because he was worried about the appearance of being late. He was stuck on the idea that if you cannot get there on time, don’t bother showing up. That created a lot of stress in the getting ready to go anywhere for all of us.

You might have a friend that is constantly in motion. If there is not enough activity, this friend will make a new project and attempt to pull you into the activity. If you want help cleaning out your closets, invite this friend over. However being around constant high levels of energy can be exhausting when you just want to sit quietly with a cup of tea. So consider your needs and activity levels when you plan your down time. Do you allow yourself down time? Time with nothing in particular planned for you to do?

What are the consequences of getting stuck in this pattern of hurry up no matter what?

You will have high stress levels based on your constant whirlwind of activity. Part of your rush is based on getting everything just right. This perfectionism creates unrealistic expectations and more stress. When you hurry you are more likely to make mistakes which leads to rework. Rework adds to an already busy schedule.

You will miss out on the everyday joy around you.

There is no time for self-care and playtime when you life is in hurry up mode.

Why are you in such a hurry? What are you missing out on?

Check yourself  Take why are you in a hurry assessment

How do you break this pattern of hurry up no matter what?

  1. Focus on one thing at a time. Give your full attention to one thing; see how that feels for a change.
  2. Rethink, reflect and prioritize your tasks. Not everything is high priority.
  3. Separate work from play. Allow time to be flexible with your recreational activity
  4. Plan ahead. Planning avoids the rush because you did not think ahead. Set up planning time so you can think ahead without the pressure of instant decisions on what is up next.
  5. Get realistic about your expectations of time. Are you trying to do too many things in too short of a time?
  6. Slow down. Pay attention to life and people around you. Listen first before you jump into action. That alone can save you time by having all the information first.
  7. Allow down time everyday just for you. Start with 10 minutes. Take that time for doing nothing. It might be uncomfortable. Try it and see what happens.

Hurry up no matter what is a pattern of activity that leads to burnout and overwhelm. When you slow down to recognize that you have choices, time can be a gift instead of another stress factor.

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