Compassion Fatigue Are you at Risk?

If you find yourself emotionally and physically exhausted, easily irritated and blaming others for problems on a daily basis: you could be suffering from compassion fatigue.

There are many resources for how to recognize, prevent and treat compassion fatigue. I would like to focus on the coaching approach to dealing with this chronic and debilitating condition. Coaching is unique in starting with examining your personal operating beliefs.   Your beliefs drive your actions on a daily basis. Reflection and examining your beliefs is the key to changing your actions. If you believe that putting the needs of others first is important, then your actions will reflect that belief. If you believe that you are totally responsible for healing an injured animal than you will take on all of the pain and disappointment if that animal fails to thrive. If you believe that you must be perfect with every task at work, than you will consider any misstep a personal failure.

A strong identification with weak, suffering, helpless animals or people contribute to higher levels of compassion fatigue. Caring to much and taking on all the emotional blame for any outcome is part of a belief that you need to care more than any one else in order to help others.

So the reason that many people are attracted to a caring, helping profession is also the reason they are at higher risk for compassion fatigue.

Check your self against these common symptoms:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Reduced sense of personal accomplishment or meaning in work
  • Poor habits of self-care
  • Excessive blaming
  • Isolations for others
  • Physical exhaustion and chronic fatigue
  • Compulsive behaviors such as overeating, overspending or binge TV watching
  • Substance abuse to mask feelings
  • Pent up emotions
  • Difficulty concentrating or making basic decisions

How does Spiral Coaching help with compassion fatigue?

Coaching is based on self-learning, self-compassion and reflection to make adjustments in your normal patterns that support a healthier, happier you. Resilient people practice self-care, exercise regularly, eat healthy and have strong support systems. Do You?  Practicing self compassion is a way to recharge your emotional batteries. Using a journal with a coach gives you a guide for faster results

.Sign up for your free on line journal

How would you rate your stress level today? Do you have signs of compassion fatigue?

What are you willing to do about improving your life right now?

What beliefs drive your actions? Do those beliefs support a healthy lifestyle?

These are basic coaching questions that start the process of moving in a direction of creating positive changes for you.

If you don’t like where you are, you must be willing to take action before your life will change.

Take a step forward today. Contact Coach Gwen Veterinarian Services – go to your page

Click to schedule a 30 min complimentary coach call

How to lower Stress / High Blood Pressure Naturally

 

Learning to take a deep breath will lower stress and manage high blood pressure naturally. There are a few surprising things you can do that help with both stress and high blood pressure.

Stress increases your fight or flight reaction in a crisis. This is a helpful response in an emergency. The problem is living in that highly reactive state is harmful to both your physical and emotional self. Studies show that blood pressure is and stress are related. Stress can effectively raise blood pressure and managing stress with breathing can lower blood pressure. This relationship is dynamic with many other factors. What we do know is that learning to use relaxation techniques like deep breathing help both high blood pressure and stress. How can you get out of that stressful reactive state naturally?

Simply taking a deep breath is a good way to start. A focus on breathing is at the core of various relaxation techniques.

10 ways to lower your blood pressure naturally

  • Learn breathing exercises- Deep slow breathing is the oldest and best-known technique to decrease stress.

Taking 4 deep breaths in through your nose and out for a count of 5 is a method you can do at work without any special equipment. If you have the time, than imagine yourself in a relaxing place while you focus on deep breathing for 1-3 min.
Power Walk- 30- 60 minutes a day can help bring down your blood pressure numbers. Walk outside when you can, fresh air and sunshine add to the fun

Play with your pet – Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.

Music is effective for relaxation and stress

  • Music can have a profound effect on both the emotions and the body. … Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day.
  • Reduce salt intake- The AHA recommends limiting your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day. That’s a little over half a teaspoon. 
To decrease sodium in your diet, don’t add salt to your food. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,300 mg of sodium! Use herbs and spices to add flavor food.
  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruits and fiber. Eliminating foods that are high in saturated fats, such as processed foods, full-fat dairy products, and fatty meats It helps to cut back on desserts and sweetened beverages, such as soda and fruit drinks.
  • Lose the extra weight. Pay attention to your food intake, increase your activity level. All calories are not the same. Contact Gwen about the Transitions Lifestyle program.
  • Manage your stress- look at the root causes of your stress triggers
  • Get full nights sleep- Sleep allows our energy level to replenish and physical body to rest. Follow a pattern to set yourself up for sleep by avoiding technology and visual stimulation 30 minutes before your normal bedtime.

Need a free app to help the habit of deep breathing? Try Breath2Relax

Read more about exercise that helps click below:

AHA guidelines for exercise that lowers blood pressure

Contact Coach Gwen Schedule a time to talk

 

Mini Habits as Easy Steps to Healthy Habits

mini health habits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build your healthy habits by taking one step at a time.

What is a mini habit? Some small task you choose that will help you build into automatically repeating this healthy habit daily.

Think about what you can do 5 minutes or less. The goal here is to get you in a pattern that supports your healthy habit on a daily basis. Bigger goals often fail because they are too hard to fit into your busy schedule. Derek Doepker wrote a book: The Healthy Habit Revolution. See this book for a full program on how mini habits can be developed in 21 days.

Get started on  healthy habits with easy mini steps.

The idea of a mini habit is just to get you started. Pick 1-3 healthy habits and plan on doing each of them for 1-5 min daily for 21 days. This what I liked most, the idea of just get started.

Think that is too easy? Wrong, it is a proven way to create the healthy habit that gets you started. Momentum creates motivation. So one push up every day or eating one extra carrot a day adds up to something that you will do on a routine basis.

What would 5 minutes of quiet time do for you as a way to rest your brain?

What makes this mini habit work is it is so easy to do it. You really have no excuse to avoid or not do this new healthy habit. While you might skip a 15-20 min exercise routine on a busy day, you are much less likely to skip 1-3 min of exercise.

Will 3 minutes of exercise make you more fit? Not today, but think of 3 minutes X 21 days and consider how much exercise you just added to your overall activity level.

If you have ever failed at goals or resolutions, this method of mini healthy habits is a good option for you to try.

Here are some guidelines to picking good mini habits:

  • Take your mini habit seriously- pick what you personally want to improve
  • Your habit has to require some effort, make it significant for your needs
  • Avoid the temptation to make it too long, your goal is daily success
  • Remember you can always choose to overachieve and to more each day
  • Set up accountability for your mini habit, tell people what you are doing

At the end of 21 days, you will have set up patterns that give you a solid foundation to keep building on your health. That is the proven reason small steps lead to bigger actions. The success that you have in small mini habits will lead you to expand and improve into healthy habits for life. So this year start small for bigger gains.

Contact Coach Gwen for accountability that will keep you on track.

Contact Coach Gwen for a complimentary call

 

Swim around the Rocks

 

 

 

Habits can be helpful or they can be so automatic that we forget to reflect if we could improve or change a process to make it easier.

What makes us push through the toughest possible path because it is what we have always done? What stops us from trying a different path to see if it might be easier?

I had a dream last night. I love swimming. It feels good, improves my mood and gives my brain a rest while my body gets a great workout.

In my dream the pool was full and in each lane people were just floating in small boats taking up all the space. If I attempted to swim with the boats, I would hit my head, have to stay underwater or just get pushed around by the boats. Even when I asked nicely, the people in the boats were not willing to move for me. So my dream self decided if I wanted to swim I would have to give up on the pool and just go swim in the air.

Dreams are magic. What I discovered was how fun and easy it was to swim in the air. Why had I not tried this before?

If you find yourself pushing through obstacles, consider how you might go around them. How could you avoid the obstacles and make life easier? Is there a path or new idea you could try? Play the “what if” game. What if this might work?

What if someone else has a good idea? How could I make this process easier?

What patterns do you have that might be improved by trying something completely different? In my dream I was free to explore unheard of possibilities. In real life you will benefit by thinking as if anything were possible. Surprise yourself by taking a different path and see what you learn.

 

Make Happiness Top Priority

 

thumb_img_0793_1024What would change in your life if you decided make happiness your top priority?

Edwin Edebiri, thinks that happiness needs to be our default position and has declared himself the Chief Happiness Officer. Listen to his Ted- ex talk here. Happiness as a Default Position
He speaks to a core belief that happiness is a state you deserve to enjoy and everyone can find happiness. I agree that happiness is a state of mind that improves when you pay attention to what does make you happy. What I like about his talk is the idea that self-compassion or the ability to forgive your self is a key component to happiness.
I pulled a few ideas that appealed to me from his talk.

How to make Happiness your priority in life
1. Decide to be happy
2. Smile more and learn to laugh at yourself
3. Create a gratitude list, include what makes you happy
4. Create a list of all the things that make you unhappy and seek solutions
5. Eliminate some things that that contribute to unhappiness
6. Be active and make healthy choices for self care
7. Create a dream list and take actions towards your dreams
8. Play
Is it really that easy to become happier?

There is research that supports that idea of happiness linked to attitude and your focus on need satisfying goals. Remember that these are goals that nourish and support you, not just achievement goals.
Goals that nourish you can be long-term projects that you work on over time. Happiness comes from taking good care of your self in small ways.

What makes me happy?
I have small things that make me happy: hearing a bird sing, riding my bike instead of driving to the store, connecting with people on a summer walk, swimming and a quiet start to the day drinking tea. Consider the small things that you find pleasure in. What does make you feel good? It can be an activity or something you view or appreciate. When you pause at the end of every day and create a gratitude list, it gives you a reason to be happy. In hectic times the only thing we really can control is our attitude.

Look at the ideas above and find what fits your needs. Try one or two of them and see what happens.  Really it can be that easy to enjoy happy moments.
Need some other ways to check your happiness level? Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Self Talk Inspiration

 

 

thumb_7qrodllp5v6o_1024What do you want to hear when you talk to yourself?

How would you inspire your best friend who needed support in a time of crisis?

I hear too many why questions in my self talk.

Why did you do that? Why didn’t you finish that? Why are you still worried about what you cannot change?

You are strong. You have courage. Follow your heart. Be kind. Give yourself credit. Pay attention to the light within. Listen to your heart. Be caring to yourself so you have the ability to share that caring spirit.

I can change my self talk by focusing in the words that demonstrate love, courage and compassion. My mantra has been: you are loved, you are loveable.

What do you need to tell yourself? Find those words and repeat as often as needed.

Responsibility- Is this Mine?

When did I first learn that I was responsible?  Some where in the lesson of responsibility – I twisted up what I was responsible for. I took on the belief that I was responsible for all others first, that I was responsible for other people. That I was responsible for happiness, feelings, outcomes, being perfect, doing it all.

That other people’s feelings and needs came before mine. I used to think that doing things for others was important and I was not important.  Now I reject that belief and have let go of my idea of being responsible for the entire universe.  Are you really in charge of the universe today? Only when I ask myself that out loud does it sound silly.

Responsibility is a habit that is difficult to sort out at times. I am at heart a responsible person. It is the order of my belief that has changed. I cannot be helpful, compassionate or caring when I am overwhelmed or carrying the weight of all responsibility around with me. What happens if you pick up every task or problem that you see? How many of these problems or rocks can you carry and still keep moving without impacting your own health?

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On good days, I will gently hand you back the responsibility you attempt to pass over to me. On bad days, I will say yes to anything asked of me, and then get angry or upset when I realize I have taken on too much responsibility again. When I carry around things for other people, there is no space in my life for me. I am important. I need to be responsible to me before you.  Another lesson to be learned.

When I do forget and slip back into that outdated idea of what is mine, I am able to remind myself by asking better questions.  Is this really mine? Pause. Say no before yes. Who does this belong to? Why would you ask me that? Is this mine?

I am responsible.

I am responsible for my own happiness.

I am responsible for self -care, honoring my feelings, being kind to myself.

I believe that self- care is critical to self- development and growth.

I am responsible for me.

Words can be used as Weapons

Words can be used as weapons

Words can be used to shame, blamarchere, humiliate, hurt, discourage and intimidate.

Words used as weapons can create emotional distress even when the intentions are careless instead of deliberate. Words can be thrown out in anger or frustration. Words can be used in a deliberate pattern of verbal abuse. I think we fail to recognize the effect of verbal abuse on our physical and emotional health. We have been told to toughen up and ignore hurt feelings, that we are too sensitive and cannot take a joke.

 

In reality your response or understanding of the intended meaning of words is what counts. If you think you have been insulted or ridiculed: then you have been. Trust your internal instinct on how the words were intended.

Suzette Haden Elgin reminds us, “ That verbal violence is a toxic menace. The majority of illnesses and disorders that develop in the workplace have emotional stress as their direct or indirect cause.” (1.)

Words can be carefully crafted as a verbal attack. Elgin describes here how

to recognize the “Verbal Attack Pattern”.

“The most reliable clue you have to verbal abuse is to listen to how different words are stressed in the spoken sentence. Listen for odd or abnormal emphasis to be placed on words spoken.”

Examples: If you really cared about your health–you would get off the couch and start exercising

What is so difficult about eating healthy? It is so simple any one could do it.

In both these examples the attacker is not interested in your answer.

These words are not used to encourage or support. A verbal attack is meant to injure, blame or shame. You don’t have to apologize or explain when under attack. Here are some short ideas about how to defuse a verbal attack.

The attack will include a bait: Some part of the sentence will attack you personally and expect you to defend against that part of the sentence.

Your best defense is to recognize that attack pattern and ignore the bait.

Instead keep your voice calm and address the situation at hand or agree with something that has been said.

All words spoken are not absolute truths. Just by understanding and recognizing a verbal attack can help you reduce its impact or power to inflict pain. It saddens me to realize how often we accept criticism as our fault without questioning the intention behind the words spoken to us. My hope is to raise awareness of the words we hear and speak. That we focus on how to communicate with sensitivity to others and learn to defuse or deflect words used as weapons. I have gathered many tools and skills over the years as a martial arts instructor and teacher of verbal self-defense. I hope this blog gives you some new ideas and would be happy to discuss your specific situations with a coaching call. Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Elgin, S. (2000). The gentle art of verbal self-defense at work. Paramus, NJ. : Prentice Hall Press

 

 

How to Save Time

take your seat

 

Would you like to have an extra hour in every day? How would it feel to have plenty of time every day? We all have the same amount of time. We all get to decide how we spend it every day. In reading articles about time management: I found two main areas of focus. One was how to create systems and shortcuts to be more efficient with your time on daily tasks. The second idea was to make deliberate choices on how you spend your time in a way that reflects on what is important to you.

I think the easy logical path is to plan ahead, creates systems, get rid of clutter and make specific to do lists to manage your time. This is frequently the first choice for traditional time management. Best ideas for this area include:

Plan your weekly menus. You will save time and money at the grocery store. This helps you avoid extra trips to the store and you have healthy snacks and lunch stuff ready to go every day.

Cook in batches. Make enough food for leftovers and to freeze for another week.

This gives you an easy healthy option for a busy day.

Get rid of clutter. It is easier to focus when your physical area is clear. No clutter makes it easy to find things, you spend less time searching, moving piles around or repeatedly sorting through things.

 

 

The other time management choice is to stop and examine how you are spending your time.

Here are some questions to help you clarify where you want to spend your time.

  • Are you spending your time on high value activity?
  • Do you find joy in your daily routine?
  • Are there things you want to stop doing or get rid of?
  • Are there areas that that you want to spend more time in?

Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” The choice is yours. You can learn to catch yourself before things catch and entangle you. Try to apply mindfulness — intentional and nonjudgmental consideration — to everything you do, say, and think, before you blindly react.

Instead of keeping an ongoing list of things we should do or need to do. Stop and reflect on what things you want to do that enrich your life and nourish you. Turn your to do list into a “what matters most list”.

Need more ideas on your specific needs around time?

Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Do you Have Spring Fever?

What is spring fever? The common definition is restless and distractive behavior brought on by changes in weather and daylight. It seems that spring weather brings out my urge to clean out my closets, start new projects and reflect on how I am spending my time. I use the wild ups and downs of the weather patterns in Colorado to refocus, slow down and think. Some days we get clear sunny days and I just want to be outside. Then when it snows or hails again I get this urge to take massive action on projects and complete undone tasks.

 

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Why does the weather or longer sunny days affect our mood or behavior? I know there is a research-based answer; I am more interested in what longer sunny days can do for us. Do you feel like skipping work and spending the day outside? Is that an outrageous thought? Have you really looked at how much you work lately? What would it take to get you outside and enjoying the weather more often? Spring weather can be an opportunity to reflect, reassess and make changes that allow you to feel centered and happy with how you spend your time.

 

Is there a cure for spring fever? Yes. Get outside. Spend time on things just for you. Stop doing everything for others. Start doing things for yourself. Start with a change of pace. Slow down and pay attention to how you feel and what you really need. Then decide what actions will support you in this changing season. Short-term ideas are simple steps.

  • Create a change in your daily routine.
  • Get outside more often
  • Do something just for the fun of it
  • Be social
  • Take a trip for a day or longer
  • Be lazy and unproductive for a full day

A good solution to make a lasting change is to take a day to reflect and consider what you want from life. What do you want more of in your life? What do you want to spend less time doing? Dream big. Consider all options before you start making plans. Review your long-term goals. Break those down into shorter actions that you can do daily or weekly. Use this changing spring weather to create a positive space in your life for healthy change.

 

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