Author Archives: breanacrosscaldwell

Spend Time In Your Garden | Self-Care Strategies for Fear part 3

This is part 3 in a series on Self-Care Strategies for Fear. You can find part 1 here, and part 2 here.

Image: blue and pink flower border, quote from iain s. thomas Text: And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, "This is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!" And each day, it's up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, "No. This is what's important." Iain S. Thomas. @brighterfocus Tag: spend time self-care strategies

Self-Care Strategies for Fear part 3

Distractions are plentiful in this hurried life. Even when there’s not something important to be doing, our mind grasps at things to occupy it. This is normal. It takes intention, it takes presence, it takes mindful awareness to notice the departure from here + now, and to guide ourselves lovingly back home, to ourselves.

Cultivating a practice of spending time in this garden of your mind + body + spirit is a gift that will keep giving to every iteration of future-you. Every moment you spend with yourself, and every time you’re willing to notice those departures and walk yourself back home, your relationship with yourself deepens and grows and becomes more fulfilling.

Spending time in your garden can look like so many things. The possibilities are infinite. For as many unique minds and bodies and spirits as there are on this planet (and elsewhere?), there are that many different varieties of gardens. So what will yours look like?

white woman with short brown curly hair sitting on blue trampoline holding a journal and essential oil bottle Tag: spend time self-care strategies

me in my garden with my trampoline, oils, and journal

Maybe yours has your journal, trampoline, and essential oils.

… your crystals, yoga mat, and a Redwood.

… your bible, running shoes, and hot tub.

… your puppy dog, pillow, and ukulele.

YOU GET TO DECIDE!

 

 

Whatever your garden includes, it is yours, you can change it anytime you want, and you get to feel comfortable, safe, joyful, and whatever-other-emotions-you-need-to-feel in it!

Finding/creating/making/honoring time for yourself to spend in your garden can be tricky. I find that designating a consistent time has helped it to become a habit that I look forward to and count on. For me, morning time is my garden time – before most of my family wakes up. This practice has also made it much easier to jump out of bed in the morning, because I’m so excited for my special time with ME.

If you want some support, connection, and accountability to help you create a garden-time habit, I made you a Burnout Proof Academy course called Make Time for You!

Some of my favorite resources for spending time in my garden:

  1. M O D E R N W O M E N / v i s u a l m a g i c – moonbeaming newsletter + moon cycle tarotscopes
  2. Chani Nicholas – horoscopes that feel more like therapy
  3. Rob Bell – The Robcast soothes my aching/worried heart
  4. Essential Emotions: Your Guide to Process, Release, and Live Free – formerly Emotions and Essential Oils – my oil bible
  5. The Miracle Morning – by Hal Elrod – where I first learned how fun it could be to wake up early and spend time in my garden
  6. Learn to Love ‘No’: Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters – a blog post I wrote that can help you protect your precious garden-time

Small Doable Action for This Week

Spend 5 intentional minutes in your garden, enjoying your body, mind, + spirit.

woman with curly brown hair sitting in window seat reading a book Tag: spend time self-care strategies

Image by Thought Catalog

Let us know in the comments:

What are your favorite ways to spend time in your garden?
What helps you to prioritize your garden time?

We’re sharing our favorite garden-time activities in The Burnout Proof Interpreter Collective private Facebook group. Come share yours with us too!

Sneak Peek: Be With Your Feelings – part 4

When we allow time to just be with ourselves, it can open the door to unprocessed emotions showing up uninvited or announced. The fear or avoidance of these visitors can keep us from spending time in our gardens.

Next week in part 4 we’ll explore what to do with these feelings that may arise. Spoiler alert: this might become your favorite part of the whole process!

Until next week, dear one, take good care of your precious self….and enjoy it!

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Every single person on this planet matters right now. We are beat down and exhausted. We are tired of fighting and tired of grinding. Getting clear about where you need to spend your energy is essential right now. You are needed, and we need you well. You have a say where you spend your energy and how you fill yourself up. This is the time to slow way down and be very particular about where you are spending your energy. This is the time to push your voice into all the places you've allowed to stay vacant of you. This is the time to harness your gifts and share them widely. It's the time for generosity. The time for resiliency. The time to see that it's up to us and that we are capable. It's the time to see that love is fierce and mighty and will do what unprocessed pain cannot. It's the time to tend to our hurt. Yes, it's always the time to make space to tend to our hurt. This tending to is a non-negotiable because it gives us access to our wisdom. As we clear our hurt and tend to our wounds we make space to see a path forward. This is the time for you to use your voice. It's the time to allow your heart to open. It's the time to stand firmly or to stand shaking until your roots grow. It's the time to stop waiting for perfect. The time to do what you haven't done. The time to give more than you've ever given. It's up to you because it's up to all of us. It's time. Now. From today’s newsletter. Link in profile to sign up. It goes out every Monday.

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Your Garden: Self-Care Strategies for Fear part 2

This is part 2 in an ongoing series on Self-Care Strategies for Fear. 

You can find part 1 here.

Thank you to everyone who’s reached out to share your fears and how they’re affecting you. This is deep, scary work, and doing it with others can add a bit of comfort and grounding to the process. Keep reaching out!

Ok, are you ready for part 2? This piece is short, but sets the stage for the work we’re going to do over the next few weeks. Let’s dive in!

Cognitive Behavioral Self-Care Strategies for Fear

Garden, sunflowers, cabin, mountains, fog, Switzerland. Tag: cognitive behavioral self-care strategies

Photo by Miguel Cortes

Your Garden

Imagine your insides as a garden. I know it’s weird, but humor me. We want to create a visual representation of your inner world, so that you can more easily attend to it.

Thrilling view of sunflowers. Tag: cognitive behavioral self-care strategies

Photo by www.krstojevtic.com

Your garden lies within the fenced confines of a yard that is your very own. This outdoor space can look however you choose: it may have a beautifully manicured grape arbor, trellised veggies, rows of flowers, pea gravel and statues, or a wide expanse of lawn. This space is yours, and only you decide how it is maintained.

Soil + Seeds: Thoughts

Dirty hands cupping brown soil.Tag: cognitive behavioral self-care strategies

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez

 

Within your garden, your mind is the soil – the rich, fertile, nourishing medium that cultivates life. 

Your thoughts are the seeds carried through on the wind – some tumbling away and out of your garden, some finding a hold in the ground of your mind. Some of these seeds you grab, sow in the ground on purpose, water, and tend to – these are your beliefs.

 

 

 

Buds, Blooms, and Thorns: Emotions

pink flower in a green field with grass Tag: cognitive behavioral self-care strategies

Photo by Stella de Smit

Your emotions spring forth based on how situations and circumstances interact with your thoughts and beliefs. Emotions are a byproduct of our circumstances filtered through our beliefs.

These emotions are like the buds, blooms, and thorns of those seeds you planted in the ground. The emotions themselves are worthy of holding space for and feeling, but they also serve a purpose. They are like flag posts signaling to us that there’s a thought operating below the surface. 

When an emotion feels uncomfortable – like sadness, jealousy, fear, and anger often do – we can ask ourselves: 

What thought is driving this feeling?

 

 The Fruit: Behavior

The last feature of our garden that we’ll look at today is behavior. 

Behavior – what you say and do or have the urge to do – is like the fruit of the plants in your garden. Our thoughts stimulate our emotions, which in turn drive us to act.

little red strawberry on brown wood table ALT TEXT: Tag: cognitive behavioral self-care strategies

Photo by Erwan Hesry

The more mindfully aware we are of the thoughts we’re planting and tending, and the emotions and sensations we’re experiencing, the better chance we have for our actions to be aligned with our values and intentions. On the other hand, if we’re not conscious of our thoughts and beliefs and haven’t chosen them intentionally, we may end up acting in ways that we regret.

Resources for supporting yourself as you get to know your garden

Image: tan background with a light tan sliver of a moon. Text: morganharpernichols. Listen. Listen to the way your heart beats and has continued to beat through the wild of all you have been through proving that there is still much more to you, and you survived much more than you ever thought you would be able to. mhn. Tag: cognitive behavioral self-care strategies.

@morganharpernichols on instagram

 

  1. Self-Care Quickie: Brain Integration | Self-Care Strategies for Interpreters
  2. This is not business as usual | Self-Care Strategies for Interpreting During a Pandemic  
  3. Exploring your inner continent | Kristen Kalp
  4. Caring for Ourselves in Community | RID VIEWS Self-Care Column
  5. Step Into the Clearing | Morgan Harper Nichols

Baby-Step: Reflection

This week, spend some time with your journal and explore the features of your own garden.

garden with flowers, green plants, green vegetables in a raised bed Tag: cognitive behavioral self-care strategies

Photo by Markus Spiske

Prompts to get you started:

Do you tend to be more aware of your thoughts, emotions + physical sensations, or actions? What helps you notice them?

Once you’ve identified your dominant feature, you can go forward or backward around the triangle to learn more about the others:

What thoughts do you have when you’re feeling (example emotions – substitute what’s relevant for you) sad, angry, frustrated, or jealous?

What emotions and physical sensations do you feel when you’re having these thoughts?

How do you act, what do you do, say, or want to do, when you’re thinking these thoughts or feeling these emotions?

In the moment that you’re feeling upset, this three-point check can be useful:

the cognitive triangle of thoughts, behavior, emotions Tag: cognitive behavioral self-care strategies

What am I thinking?
What am I feeling?
What am I doing?

 

 

 

 

 

An important note: 

We are observing, noticing, and increasing awareness here. Remember, a key component of mindful awareness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement.

As you bring your awareness to your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, notice any judgement of yourself that comes up. It’s helpful to make a note of this too!

Self-Care Strategies for Fear: Part 3

Next week we’ll talk about what to do in this lovely garden of yours, to enjoy it, get to know it, and work with it. You can read part 3 here.

Be so gentle with yourself this week, dear one, and remember that you have a whole community of precious people here to support you in taking better care of your precious self. Reach out to me privately here, or join in our community in the Burnout Proof Interpreters Collective. I look forward to connecting with you more deeply as we continue to explore self-care strategies for fear.

tiny pink heart with lines radiating from it Tag: cognitive behavioral self-care strategies

Want to be notified when new posts come out? Sign up here for my weekly love note. 

October Workshops | Burnout Proof Academy Self-Care CEUs

Happy October, dear one,

How’s your self-care holding up? If you’re like most of us, it’s probably been pretty rough this year – but it’s not too late to get some support and turn it around! 

Image: Rainbow colored geometric background. Small heart in the center. Text: Burnout Proof Academy. Online. Self-Paced. Self-Care CEUs for Sign Language Interpreters. burnoutproof.me. Tag: october workshops self-care ceus


Here are the
Burnout Proof Academy workshops + online courses available this month:


Interpretek. Interpretek is an approved RID sponsor for Continuing Education Activities. This General Studies program is offered for 0.2 CEUs at the Little/None Content knowledge level. RIC. ACET. @brighterfocus
Self-Care for Stressful Times – Our Saturday School LIVE workshop this month, worth 0.2 GS CEUs, is happening live October 24th 10:00 am – 12:00 pm pacific and will be available as a self-paced online course after that. We’ll use the Learning Zone Model to help you understand how your brain responds to stress, how to create rest and comfort during stress, and how to grow through stressful times.

 

Interpretek. Interpretek is an approved RID sponsor for Continuing Education Activities. This General Studies program is offered for 1.5 CEUs at the Little/None Content knowledge level. RIC. ACET. @brighterfocus
Burnout Proof Bootcamp – Fall session kicks off October 7th with a LIVE support session. Earn 1.5 GS CEUs in this 6-week self-paced online course that takes you deep into the causes of burnout and the resilience of self-care habits .

 

 

Interpretek. Interpretek is an approved RID sponsor for Continuing Education Activities. This General Studies program is offered for 0.1 CEUs at the Little/None Content knowledge level. RIC. ACET. @brighterfocus

 

Burnout Proof 101 – A one-hour intro to the Burnout Proof principles. This workshop was recorded September 30th, 2020, and is now available as a self-paced online course worth 0.1 GS CEUs.

 

 

Interpretek. Interpretek is an approved RID sponsor for Continuing Education Activities. This General Studies program is offered for 0.5 CEUs at the Little/None Content knowledge level. RIC. ACET. @brighterfocus
Put On Your Raincoat: Energetic Protection for Sign Language Interpreters – solidify your mindfulness habit with this 3-hour online workshop and 7-day 15-minute mindfulness practice, worth 0.5 GS CEUs.

 

 

Interpretek. Interpretek is an approved RID sponsor for Continuing Education Activities. This General Studies program is offered for 0.3 CEUs at the Little/None Content knowledge level. RIC. ACET. @brighterfocus

 

Make Time for You: A 7-Day Self-Care Reset for Sign Language Interpreters – build your self-care habit in 5 minutes a day, worth 0.3 GS CEUs. This is a great place to start if you’re feeling overwhelmed! 

 

 


Mark your calendars: a sneak peek for November

November’s Saturday School live workshop will be on Creating Healthy Boundaries, and is scheduled for November 21st 10:00 am – 12:00 pm pacific. Sign up for my weekly love notes email and be the first to find out about new workshops!

Self-care isn’t just for yourself

10% of all profit from Burnout Proof Academy courses goes directly to The Loveland Foundation – Therapy Fund for Black Women and Girls. May our self-care support the self-care of others.

I hope to see you soon! Please hit ‘reply’ with any questions, and as always – especially right now – take good care of your precious self. 

Image: pink and purple background. Text: I find myself being much more forgiving of my own shortcomings while I navigate the uncharted territory of working from home and doing VRI. I'm discovering new boundaries I want to set almost every day, which has become increasingly important now that I'm working from home. All in all, I am so glad I took this when I did, because I fear, with all the uncertainty in this moment, I would be a mess otherwise. - 2020 Burnout Proof Bootcamp Graduate @brighterfocus Tag: october workshops self-care ceus

My Biggest Fear | Self-Care Strategies for Fear part 1

 

Wood wall background. Older teen with pink hair, long lashes and purple eyeshadow, younger teen with shaggy brown hair, middle-age man with backwards hat and sunglasses, middle-age woman with short curly hair, and young teen with shaggy brown hair - all smiling. Tag: fear self-care strategies

My family and I, on my 43rd birthday

My kids are my achilles heel. If you want to bring me to my knees, distract me, or hold me hostage – mess with my kids. When they are hurting, it stirs up every anxiety and fear in me. A couple of years ago, one of the three was having a particularly rough time and subsequently, I was a wreck.

There are multiple versions of every story. Different details, different perspectives, different angles, different altitudes – that, if we consider them, completely transform the story.

From heartbreak to miracle.
From depths of hell to merciful heaven.
From worst possible scenario, to amazing luck.

This rough time of my child’s, when now viewed through the wise lens of hindsight, was such a major catalyst for the growth of our whole family. It has brought us closer together, it has developed a depth and a maturity in the one who went through it, and it’s carved a wider valley for love and joy in me. This perspective, the one of hope, gratitude, and growth as opposed to catastrophe and loss, fills me with peace and upholds the dignity of my child and their experience. It feels empowering.

But while we were in the thick of it all? It was a terrifying nightmare that threatened to eat us alive. I wasn’t sure my precious kid would make it. I wasn’t sure I would either. I wasn’t sure of anything, and that unsureness allowed space for my wildest fears and most heartbreaking regrets to take up residence in my mind. They grew and grew and smothered me with thorny tentacles from every direction. It was hard to ever feel safe while living in this nightmare.

Monster in the clouds. Tag: fear self-care strategies

Photo by Michael Weidner on Unsplash

Fear is often at the core of our disempowering stories. When our thinking brain is hijacked by our reptilian brain, the worst-case scenarios take root in our thoughts, gathering energy and mass, igniting anxiety and stealing our joy.

So much energy is spent trying to escape the feeling of fear, that we often don’t allow ourselves the compassion and understanding we need while experiencing it. It’s like we’re running so frantically to get away, when that scared part of ourselves really needs us to stop and give it a hug.

Mindful awareness can be that hug we need. According to Lyra Health, mindful awareness means paying attention on purpose in the present moment without judgement. It helps us to cultivate a space for ourselves to just BE – without having to fix, change, perform, or DO.

When we shine the compassionate light of mindful awareness on the noxious weeds of our fears, we can see they’re not absolute truths. The light shines through in places. Holes can be easily poked through. There are gaps in logic and structure. What once seemed to be an impenetrable wall of sharp thorns and certain death, is now illuminated at the source to reveal a few vulnerable stalks. We then have the opportunity to pull them out by the root, and to plant and nurture the empowering seeds of truth.

Fear Self-Care Strategies: Resources for Working with Fear

  1. Self-Care for Stressful Times – 0.2 GS CEUs – Burnout Proof Academy Saturday School Series – October 24th, 2020 10 am – 12 pm PT
  2. Embrace and Learn from Your Fear of Failure – Lyra Health blog
  3. The Power of Vulnerability – Brené Brown TED Talk
  4. Embracing the Darkness – Brighter Focus blog

Baby Step: Take Action

Choose one of the resources above, set your timer for 5 minutes, and dive in! Working with your fears doesn’t have to be a long drawn-out process. Break it down into tiny doable pieces to prevent overwhelm and practice holding loving boundaries with yourself. This is one of the keys to being Burnout Proof.

Reflection

Over the next several weeks we’ll be exploring this process of identifying our thoughts, feeling our feelings, and cultivating more empowering and truthful beliefs.

Image of a tall brick building with fire escape stairs. Large poster on the side of the building reads, "How are you really?" Tag: fear self-care strategies

Photo by Finn on Unsplash

I’d love to know what your experience of fear is like and any questions you have about being with it or working with it. Leave a comment below or drop me a line and let me know:

What keeps you awake at night?
What does fear feel like in your body?
What do you typically do when you’re feeling scared, worried, or anxious?
What would you like to know about working with your fear?

Ok dear one, thanks so much for being on this journey with me. Until next time, take good care of your precious self.

With love,
Brea

This is part 1 in an ongoing series on Self-Care Strategies for Fear.
You can find part 2 here.

Learn to Love ‘No’: Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters

Red background, stenciled and distressed lettering in yellow, "No". Tags: healthy boundaries interpreters

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

“No” is a complete sentence.

What do you think about that? Do you actually believe it? As a hard-core people pleaser, I thought it was total BS. I’ve had a difficult history with this tiny two-letter sentence. Every time I wanted to use it, I’d feel such a rush of guilt, pressure, and fear that I’d say ‘yes’ instead, just to avoid those feelings.

I’d think:

‘What if I upset the person I’m saying ‘no’ to?’
‘What if they don’t like me anymore? What if they think I’m inconsiderate, lazy, mean. Or what if they think that I don’t like them?!”
‘Is there any way that I could do this thing they’re asking me to do?’

I’d do anything to avoid saying ‘no,’ at the expense of my health, peace of mind, and even my relationship with the other person. Yes – even my relationships were at stake. Because, like any good people-pleaser, I was an expert at resentment. I would say ‘yes,’ to avoid saying ‘no,’ and then I would be so upset with myself that it would bleed into our relationship – I’d be upset with them by proxy.

As I became aware of the effects my unwillingness to say ‘no’ was having, there’s something that helped this lesson to sink in.

When you say “no” to one thing, you’re saying “yes” to something else.
When you say “yes” to one thing, you’re saying “no” to something else.

Ahh…now things started to get interesting! There are two sides to this coin – a relationship between what I choose to give my time and energy to and what I don’t.

I began to see that I was always saying ‘no’ to something! Just, sometimes I wasn’t aware of it. And you know what I think about awareness…it’s the first magic-key to everything we want.

Dark wall background with white neon sign, "YES YES". Tags: healthy boundaries interpreters

Photo by Michèle Eckert on Unsplash

Start with ‘Yes’

Saying ‘no’ is a bazillion times easier when you’re clear on what you’re saying ‘yes’ to instead. Know your top priorities. Identify your values or guiding principles.

If you’ve already identified that one of your core values is ‘family’, and you get a job request at the same time that your child has a special dance performance, it’s easier to know which to say ‘yes’ to (the dance performance!).

If your focus for the month is on improving your organizational systems for your business, and you come across a parenting conference that sparks your interest, you can check with your current priorities to know that the parenting conference can wait until next year. You’re saying ‘yes’ to sticking with your organizational focus.

Ask for Time

Jiu jitsu is one of my favorite sports. One of the reasons is because being good at it doesn’t rely on strength or size. Practitioners who excel are masters at using natural forces of gravity and leverage to assist their bodies in subduing their opponents.

Background half pink, half blue, with an old fashioned alarm clock in the middle. Tags: healthy boundaries interpreters

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Here’s a jiu jitsu move for learning to love ‘no’:
Ask for time to consider the request.

Practice these phrases:

“Let me think about it.”
“Let me check in with my  priorities/needs/calendar.”
“I’ll get back to you.”

And don’t forget your love or kind regard for the person to whom you’re speaking! Put these phrases together with your genuine feelings, and you become a master at communicating your boundaries in a way that actually strengthens relationships.

“Thanks so much for the invitation! Let me check in with my priorities for that week and I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Does that sound ok?”

Take action

Here’s something you can do today to baby-step your way toward learning to love no:
Download the “Hell, YES!” Checklist, and use it to help you tune into your inner “YES.”
Comment below to share what you use it for and how it goes.

Reflection

Grab your journal and reflect:

  • What, in the last week, did you want to say ‘no’ to, but didn’t?
  • When you think of that moment that you wanted to say ‘no’, what feelings and sensations were you having in your body?
  • What did you actually want to say ‘yes’ to, in that situation?
  • If you had a ‘do-over’, what would you rather have said?

Healthy Boundaries for Interpreters

Four resources to deepen your exploration with healthy boundaries:

Nope Hand Lettering On Wood and Glass. Tags: healthy boundaries interpreters

Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash

  1. Register for Burnout Proof 101 – A live one-hour webinar workshop exploring boundaries, joy, energy and more. Sept 30th, 2020. 0.1 CEUs.
  2. Self-Care: Thriving in Times of Uncertainty – RID VIEWS Nov 2019 Self-Care column with tips for tending to the body, mind, and heart during stressful times.
  3. Brene Brown’s advice on how to set boundaries – article from Brene Brown on setting boundaries
  4. Boundaries with Brene Brown – YouTube interview with Brene Brown

We are all in this together, dear one, and we need your deepest inner knowing and wisdom engaged as we work to create this equitable new world. Take it one tiny baby-step at a time, and remember I’m here to support you!

Sending so much love today and every day.
xo,
Brea

16-Second Stress-Relief for Sign Language Interpreters

Where do you hold tension and stress in your body, and what do you do to relieve it?

Image: mural painted in bright colors blue and red, of a man with an open mouth and hands by his face. The photographer's note reads: When we visited Utö, the most outer island of this beautiful archipelago in the place we call Finland, I allowed myself to be guided by the incredible energy of Inca, the daughter of the family we were visiting there. She took me to a series of abandoned bunkers from the times this island was a military strategic point and there I found this graffiti that represent very well the feeling of all that has to do with military, war, conflict and drama. With love from Korpo. Tag: stress-relief interpreters

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Whether you’re in wildfire land, hurricane territory, or somewhere in between, you’re likely feeling tension and stress in your body.

Tension is energy trapped in the body.

Potential movement that, on its way somewhere else, got stuck. Tension signifies the places in our bodies where we’re resisting reality internally, but not yet moving to act in a helpful, empowering way externally.

Internal resistance opposing external stagnancy can create a fixed mindset, sense of disempowerment, and bodily discomfort. It often feels like we’re gripping something tightly.

Stress-Relief for Interpreters: Move the Body, Free the Energy

Movement can be a powerful tool for healing, when we’re suffering from tension and stress.

This can look like: shaking – parts or all of your body – gently or vigorously, bouncing, dancing, stretching, massaging, scraping, pleasuring, flexing, and so much more.

In order to tend to our tension, we must first know it’s there. Developing mindful awareness in your daily life can help you to become more responsive to your body’s cues so that these spots don’t stay stagnant for so long. 

Breathing is an accessible and easy way to bring gentle movement into areas of tension. Here’s one quick and powerful way to do it, even while interpreting.

Check out the video at the end of this post where I walk you through the process.

Triage Care: The 4×4 One-Breath Body Scan

This practice is a combination of two techniques. Let’s look at each separately first.

Part 1: Square, Box, or 4×4 Breathing

This breathing technique has many names, because it’s just that good. And it’s super-simple. Square Breathing stress-relief for interpreters. Image: solid teal background, white square outline with arrows pointing clockwise and a countdown timer from 4 to 1. Every 4 counts, different words are highlighted. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Hold.

  1. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4.
  2. Hold that breath for a count of 4.
  3. Exhale through your nose or mouth for a count of 4.
  4. Hold empty for a count of 4.

That’s it. 

Practice this a few times, syncing your breathing pattern with the visual, and you’ve got it. As a side note, notice how your body feels after a few cycles of this breath.

Part 2: Body Scan

Typically the body scan is taught as a longer relaxation experience – and it’s fantastic as that. When my kids were little, they would ask me to guide them through this as they prepared for sleep. A good body scan can take 10 minutes+ to go through, and can leave you feeling as soft as warm putty when you’re done. It goes like this:

  • Get centered and grounded. Feel your connection to the surface beneath you. Feel it holding and supporting you. 
  • Bring your awareness to the top of your head, feel your scalp, forehead, face, jaw, ears, and back of head. Notice any area of tension and let it relax. Don’t force, just allow.
  • Slowly move your awareness down your body to each part, one after the other – noticing any tension and allowing it to release – until you get to your toes.

This practice can take as long as you want it to. It’s especially good during a long break or just before bed. But sometimes we need more frequent and short ways to care for ourselves.

Here’s where the triage care magic is: put them together.

  1. While inhaling through your nose for a count of 4, let your awareness scan your body for areas of tension. As you practice this, the breathing + scanning becomes more automatic – it might feel clunky at first. That’s ok. Over time you’ll get to know the areas where you hold your tension, so you can hone in on them more quickly and easily. When you find those areas of tension, start directing your breath right into them, like a funnel. Find the center of the tension and imagine that you’re filling it like a balloon with healing, supportive oxygen.
  2. Hold that breath, letting the oxygen do its work in each area of tension, for a count of 4.
  3. As you exhale through your nose or mouth for a count of 4, allow each balloon to deflate, carrying with it the tension that was stored in that muscle. 
  4. Hold empty for a count of 4, focusing on the relaxation of each spot.

If you take 4 seconds with each part of the breath, this has taken you 16 seconds.
Can you take 16 seconds to care for yourself a few times today?

Tag: stress-relief interpreters. Image: black circle outline remains static, while inner blue-filled circle expands and contracts in the 4x4 rhythm  


Burnout Proof Academy Saturday School Workshops are coming!

Registration is open for Self-Care for Stressful Times!

Join us live for the two-hour workshop on October 24th, 2020 from 10:00 am – noon pacific, or watch the recording and connect with others in our online portal anytime after, for 0.2 GS CEUs.

We’ll use the Learning Zone Model to illustrate how our brains respond to stress, talk about how to create practices of rest and comfort during stress, and how to grow even during stressful times. 


The Secret to Triage Care

Triage care isn’t helpful if you don’t practice it. This is where your habit-solidifying skill comes in! BJ Fogg, habit-creation researcher and founder of Tiny Habits, teaches a simple three-part approach to making healthy habits more automatic:

Cartoon drawing of a person lying on their stomach on the ground. Thought bubble above first image says "I should really do some exercise.". Second image shows person with arms outstretched to reach a bag labeled "snacks", with a thought bubble above that says, "That'll do." Credit: Gemma Correll Tag: stress-relief interpreters

  1. Make your new habit tiny – 30 seconds or less. Our 16 second one-breath body scan fits the bill!
  2. Anchor it to an existing habit – brainstorm some current habits or things you do daily automatically. For example: turning off the morning alarm, hitting ‘start’ on the coffee maker or teapot, using the restroom, washing your hands, turning on the computer, listening to the phone ring on a VRS call, waiting for a consumer, sitting on hold, brushing your teeth, or pulling up the covers at night. There are a million more. Pick one and use it as a trigger to remind you to do your one-breath body scan. For example: When I push the button to turn on my computer, I do my one-breath body scan.
  3. Celebrate – just like clicker-training a puppy, every time you complete your tiny habit – celebrate! This gives you a cascade of feel-good hormones that rewards your brain and brings you joy, making it more likely that you’ll remember and be willing to practice your habit again.

Celebration Partying GIF By Booksmart Tag: stress-relief interpretersHere’s three resources for practicing triage care and solidifying your new habit:

  1. This is not business as usual | Self-Care Strategies for Interpreting During a Pandemic
  2. Make Time for You – online self-paced course to help you build your self-care habit 5 minutes a day. 0.3 CEUs.
  3. Put On Your Raincoat: Energetic Protection for Sign Language Interpreters – online self-paced workshop worth 0.5 CEUs – includes a 7-day mindfulness practice.

This video guides you through the whole triage care process.
Join us in The Burnout Proof Interpreters Collective Facebook group to catch future livestreams!

I’d love to know:

In what areas of your body do you hold tension, and what helps you to soothe it?

The equitable world we are creating begins with treating ourselves well. Thanks so much for being here with me, on this journey to taking better care of your precious self.

Channel The Fire | September Oil Protocol

The fires have come to Oregon.

As we were fumbling through logging into new Chromebooks, many in the Pacific Northwest faced smoke and evacuation warnings on Labor Day. Fires are spreading up and down the coast from Washington to California. 500,000 people in Oregon have evacuated their homes as of today.

Many parts of the area surrounding Portland are currently evacuating. If you’re affected by smoke or fires, please be safe and practice your triage self-care. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. May we find peace and hope amidst the urgency of this emergency.

Download the Red Cross Prepare! Resource Guide

The Red Cross is doing amazing work supporting evacuees and I encourage you to donate if you can.

Summer + Mars

This transition from Summer to Fall, in Chinese Medicine, is characterized by a shift from Fire to Earth, bitter to sweet, roaring to humming. Summer is making it known that his work is not yet finished. He has more to say.

In our personal lives we may be feeling more agitation, more challenge, more heat. Astrologically, we are approaching a period of intense “fire” energy. Chani Nicholas, astrologer/activist/badass, is one of my favorite teachers. She has this to say about fiery Mars, who’s currently in a very active and influential position:

“Mars is always here to remind us just how much power we do have; when and where we let bitterness, envy, or hatred poison our interactions; how we might learn to work through conflict without betraying our dignity; and how to stay in the battles that cry out for us to join. Mars is sharp – we can either use it to help us hone our skills or do damage. To use these tools wisely takes work, but you are ready.” – A Note About Mars Retrograde 2020

Essential Oil Self-Care for Interpreters

Anger is a tool I’m learning to wield. Like fire, it can feel unpredictable and scary.

The burning fire of rage within us can feel like a toxin in our bellies, threatening to combust. But when we can discern its message for us and let it spur us to action, it becomes a powerful force for change.

So, dear loves, I made us a protocol for this intense fire season. Use it when you need some extra love, use it daily to stay grounded and connected to yourself and your source as the (hopefully metaphoric) fires rage around you. Use it to remind yourself that this too shall pass, and that there is much wisdom, grace, and support for us here – even in the darkest of moments.

Check out the video below for more info on this protocol + support for the physical and emotional effects of the smoke and fires.

Channel The Fire. melaluca, top of head. myrrh, sacrum. black pepper, third eye. wintergreen, solar plexus. arborvitae + cardamom, navel. juniper, across chest. bergamot, across forehead. clary sage, third eye. cedarwood, chest. lime, inside wrist creases. @brighterfocus . tag: essential oil self-care interpreter.

Melaleuca – strengthen boundaries, improve resiliency, and stop betraying yourself.

Myrrh – connect with nurturance, know that everything will be ok, foster healthy attachments.

Black Pepper – uncover the root of the issue, unmask, see through the BS.

Wintergreen – release control, surrender to the process, open to new possibilities.

Arborvitae – tap into security and strength, trust the emotional process.

Cardamom – be with anger, harness patience, see the big picture.

Juniper – dispel fear and anxiety of the unknown.

Bergamot – foster hope and courage during times of despair, see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Eucalyptus – embrace self-care, raise your standards, don’t give up on yourself.

Clary Sage – clear creative blocks, embrace your highest gifts + purpose, expand your vision for the world.

Cedarwood – receive support, feel emotionally connected to others.

Lime – harmonize and integrate all of the oils, seal with expectant joy.

This video guides you through the whole protocol + includes some simple practices for dealing with physical and emotional effects of the smoke. Join us in The Burnout Proof Interpreters Collective Facebook group to catch future livestreams!

If you need help getting certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils, just send me a message

Upcoming Workshops

Burnout Proof 101 September 30th 5 pm pacific | 8 pm easternBurnout Proof 101. $10 0.1 CEU. The first step to taking better care of your precious self. Burnout Proof Academy. Online. Self-Care. CEUs. burnoutproof.me/p/burnout-proof-101. Interpretek is an approved RID sponsor for Continuing Education Activities. This General Studies program is offered for 0.1 CEUs at the Little/None Content knowledge level. @brighterfocus

Join me in Burnout Proof Academy for a simple + potent one-hour Burnout Proof 101 webinar. You’ll get 0.1 GS CEUs and you’ll be on your way to taking better care for your precious self. This workshop is happening soon, so don’t wait!

Register Here

 

Resources + Tools to Go Deeper

 

How to Add Subtitles to Your Videos

As ASL interpreters, we know our videos must be captioned and accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing people – now more than ever. Subtitles are also good for hearing people who are in noisy places and can’t hear the audio, people who are in quiet places and don’t want to disturb those around them, English language learners….

Basically adding subtitles to your videos is good for everyone!!

But how do you make subtitles happen?!

I’ve been learning through trial and error over the last few years, testing out all the no-cost options I could find, and here’s what I’ve learned.

Get ready, this post is loooooong. You might want to bookmark it now to refer back to as you need it, and take breaks as you go through this. You know, self-care!

Here we go!!!  Continue reading

This is not business as usual | Self-Care Strategies for Interpreting During a Pandemic

This is not normal. 

Interpreting during a pandemic, especially a VRS shift, is like entering a war zone. People are stressed, frustrated, in pain and completely freaked out – with good reason

Don’t treat your shift or yourself like this is a regular day. It’s not.

This is a triage situation. 

As interpreters, we can’t expect ourselves to be 24/7  enjoying our #quarantinelife, productive, #blessed, #handlingit, checking things off our bucket lists and doing our work like it’s business as usual.

This is not business as usual.“Interpreters are first responders who cannot respond.” - Babetta Popoff Tags: interpreting during a pandemic, covid-19

We are on the front lines, witnessing the lives of many people in crisis on a daily basis

Facilitating communication between people who are calm and connected is hard. Facilitating communication between people who are triggered, afraid, sick and overwhelmed is exponentially harder. It can be helpful to name why this is so hard. Let me offer a suggestion:

It is hard because you care.

Connect to the humanity of it. Seeing another human in pain (fear, frustration, anguish) causes us discomfort. It hurts because we care.

This hurt is compounded by the fact that we’re each personally going through hard things, so witnessing the pain of others lights up and intensifies our own personal pain.

Stress affects brain integration.

ID: 40 year old woman with short brown hair and mulitcolored sweater, pointing to her hand in a "4" handshape, symbolizing the brain as it dis-integrates. Tags: interpreting during a pandemic, brain integration, interpreter, self-care, flip your lid, freak out

Brain Dis-integration

When we’re calm, our brain is in a state of integration where all its parts work together to balance and support the other parts. We’re able to problem solve, understand different perspectives, organize our thoughts, and carry out our plans.

When our pain is lit up – when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, outraged, anxious – our brain’s connections dis-integrate, and we lose our ability to do all of those things. 

This video explains integration and disintegration with a ‘handy’ visual that you may just want to teach everyone you know. When you and those in your life have shared language for what’s happening inside, you can lean on it when times are rough. And boy, are they rough. 

Give yourself triage care whenever you can.

Identify ‘check points’ that remind you to scan your body for tension and breathe deeply into it, allowing it to release and relax. Even 5 second check points throughout the day can do wonders. During a VRS shift some check points could be:

  • During your setup process, just before you log in to take calls
  • While ringing or waiting for a caller to answer
  • While on hold
  • Between calls
  • When you log out for a break
  • When you return from a break
  • At the end of your shift

Make self-care a habit.

During this crisis, as interpreters we must have time and practices built into our lives to care for ourselves – to be able to handle the stress we’re exposed to and experiencing. This includes time to cry and grieve and scream and break down. Time to laugh and connect and time to just let ourselves be

Daily reflective practice allows our nervous systems a chance to decompress and rest, and builds stronger connections toward integration.

You wouldn’t ask your car to keep running without giving it gas. Don’t ask your heart, mind, or body to show up to work without having what it needs.

A daily self-care practice creates stronger connections for brain integration.

As you flex this muscle of integration, over time you will find it easier to stay calm through the hard stuff. When those around you are in disintegration, or when things are tough for you personally, your brain will naturally maintain integration in more and more difficult situations for longer periods of time.

The goal is not to become immune to disintegration, it’s to notice it.

We are human. The ability of our brain to prioritize safety when necessary is a very good thing. The goal then becomes a growing level of consciousness, where we’re able to shorten the time it takes to return to integration when we’re not actually in danger, and where we’re able to be gentle with ourselves and others throughout this messy process of being human.

In this integrated state, we become a true source of support for those around us, and are able to act with more compassion and empathy – for ourselves and others.

May we make this state of integration, compassion, and empathy the new normal. 

Self-Care Quickie: Brain Integration | Self-Care Strategies for Interpreters

Brain integration, dis-integration, why it matters to your interpreting and how self-care can help.

This information comes from Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, and I teach it to interpreters because it can dramatically alter our ability to attune to ourselves and regulate our emotional responses, attune to our consumers – allowing us to act with empathy and compassion, and it can also strongly impact our consumers’ ability to regulate their emotional responses.

Brain integration has a powerful impact on our interpreting interactions

Start with the hand model of the brain. 3 Parts:
PFC + Cortex – upstairs brain – executive function
Limbic Area – emotions and memory
Brain Stem – fight/flight/freeze, autonomic function

brain integration - interpreter - self-care - flip your lid

Flip-your-lid

When the brain is in integration:
Cortex, Limbic, Brain stem all connected
Cortex is regulating, soothing, and assessing all impulses from limbic and brain stem  areas/downstairs brain.

When downstairs brain overwhelms the capacity of the upstairs brain, cortex tries to hang on, to maintain integration – you know what it feels like when cortex loses its grip – FLIP-LID – in a matter of seconds we have lost our ability to regulate our emotions and behavior.

Disintegration is contagious

When one person has lost emotional equilibrium, it’s much easier for the other to lose it. You may feel this when you are interpreting – especially if it is a topic, attitude or behavior that is particularly triggering to you personally. During times of crisis, disintegration is even more common. 

Good news: Integration is also contagious

Integration is like a muscle, and involves several skills.

Any work that you do to create stronger connections in your brain promotes brain integration and will support you during times of stress and help you maintain integration with others who are experiencing disintegration.

Hand Model of the Brain. Flip your lid. Brain Integration as Self-Care for Interpreters

From: The Whole Brain Child, by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

Self-care strengthens the muscle of brain integration

  1. In the moment – BREATHE – Deep, slow belly breathing, in and out your nose
  2. Reflective practice – meditation, mindfulness, conscious breathing practice trains the brain toward integration

Three resources for integration practice:

  1. Follow me on Instagram – in my story and highlights I share short mindfulness practices
  2. Self-Care Resource Page – links to free and accessible self-care resources to support brain integration
  3. Put On Your Raincoat: Energetic Protection for Sign Language Interpreters – online self-paced workshop worth 0.5 CEUs – includes a 7 day mindfulness practice

I’d love to know:
What helps you flex your brain integration muscle?

Thanks so much for being here with me. Take good care of your precious self.