Category Archives: TLC

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 During Scary Times

In many cities here in the U.S., the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to get more real. For my family in Portland, Oregon, the biggest effects so far have been:

  • No toilet paper
  • Kids’ sports cancelled
  • My youngest son, Kiran’s, birthday brunch buffet plan is getting changed (coronavirus buffet? no thank you)
  • I actually broke out an antibacterial wipe and cleaned the doorknobs and light switches (completely out of character)
  • Many honest conversations with my panicky kids about what we know and don’t know

So much is unknown, and that’s understandably scary.

One thing that warms my heart and keeps my faith strong is seeing the support and thoughtfulness that’s already kicking in. At Winco yesterday (the grocery store with no toilet paper), I saw person after person, in the crowded aisles with dwindling supplies, helping others reach what they needed, dividing up the last of products that were almost out (rice and beans were hit hard), making space for all to stand in the long snaking lines. I felt so proud of humanity at that moment.

If you are feeling the effects of stress, illness, closures and cancellations, know that you’re not alone.

  • Keep reaching out. Even with ‘social distancing’, don’t isolate. Get online, find your community, and connect with others – neighborhood groups, common interest groups, the Burnout Proof Collective (our private Facebook community of interpreters working on self-care). Ask a friend to virtual tea over FaceTime or Skype. Get creative. Just keep connecting.
  • Listen to your body. This is a lot to process, and our bodies need our attention. Breathe into discomfort. Be as gentle with your discomfort as you would a scared or hurt child. Make space for your experience, support your immune system and nervous systems, and keep scooching toward comfort. 
  • Make time for you. I know it can be even more difficult to prioritize your needs and take care of yourself during stressful times. Don’t give up! Do what you can, even in the tiniest chunks of time, to attend to your own feelings and needs. I’ll be hosting a free 7-day self-care reset March 23rd – 29th, 2020 and I welcome you to join me. This will be a simple way to make space for yourself and connect with others. You can get more info and register here.

As always, comment below and let me know how you’re doing, how I can support you, and give love & support to each other. The Burnout Proof community is growing and thriving, and it’s because of you. I’m holding a vision of us continuing to show up for ourselves and others during this scary time. Thanks for joining me. 💗

Make Time for You: A 7-Day Self-Care Reset with Brighter Focus. March 23rd - 29th. FREE Click to Register.

For Us: A Love Note for Struggling Parents

I wrote this for myself, to lovingly and boldly address the part of me that sometimes believes I’m not doing a good enough job as a mother. May it feed the soothing voice in you and help to turn down the volume on your own worries.

xo, Breana

Right now is a particularly challenging time in your parenting journey, and that’s ok. Your kids are growing a lot – transitioning through adolescence into adulthood. This is new for all of you, you are all learning how to meet this new time in your lives, to grow and expand into it. Sometimes you’re at a loss — you feel scared and helpless and like you’re messing it all up — and that’s ok. It’s better than ok, it’s perfect. This is your brain, working to create new connections. Growing and evolving, pressed to its edge and actively working out new creative solutions. This is your heart, opening and expanding, becoming bigger and even more able to hold all that Life presents you.

Even while things are scary and hard, may there be parts of your parenting that you feel good about and love. May you love how lighthearted you can be with your kids, and how much fun you are able to have together. May you like how much you enjoy them and care about them deeply as people. May you appreciate your practice of seeing them as they truly are. May you acknowledge the example you set for your kids of consistently moving toward what feels better, listening to your heart and following where it leads. May you find something new everyday to love about yourself as a parent.

May you know that even while you’re scared or hurting, it’s your birthright to cultivate a space of peace inside, to know you’re doing your absolute best in every moment, and to trust that you can set down the reigns of your vigilance so that you may rest and care for yourself. You get to be human along this journey of parenting, and you get to allow your kids to be human, too. You are all fumbling forward together, learning, growing, messing up, and being people on this earth together.

Sometimes it feels so overwhelming and big, but for now, in this moment, you can do this. You can handle the unknown, the fumbling through, the worry that calls you back to presence. You can love your children fiercely, and enjoy your life and take care of yourself — even when you’re not guaranteed that they are safe or happy.

May you be willing to meet all of this. May you be willing to feel the pain of stretching and growing. May you be willing to walk yourself through right now. May you be willing to remember to let go of what you can’t control. May you be willing to catch yourself doing it wrong and course-correct. May you be willing to get better at letting things be what they are. May you be willing to learn through daily practice to take nothing personally. May you be willing to show up in love for and with them, over and over, knowing there are no guarantees. May you be willing to fall in love with the process of parenting — this journey of a lifetime. May you be willing to let them fall, let them feel the weight of their actions and to be there to love them as they deal with the consequences.

These moments can feel gut-wrenching, and you know other parents on planet earth sometimes experience circumstances with their kids that push them to their very edge. It’s ok for you to have this experience too. You’re just one more human being to know this particular painful circumstance, and you’re in good company. May you be willing to feel your oneness with all kinds of people all over the planet having this experience on different levels. You can feel compassion for them. May you flip that and extend it to yourself.

May you consider how you’re feeling now to be a part of your guidance system. Worry and guilt do not serve, and yet they call us to look at the pain — to not ignore it…to take action to relieve it. May you know that this experience serves you, that it is perfectly orchestrated for your evolution and you can trust it. May you see all of the ways that Life has carried you through so far, and know it just keeps getting better and better, the more you open and trust.

And so, may you just be in this moment — feel breath fill you with life, and smile with the joy and gratitude for getting to know these amazing beings so intimately. With appreciation for the ways Life constructs the perfect lessons to draw you toward the next right step on your unique path. And with trust that you can endure, survive, thrive-through, open-to, learn-to-love any experience Life brings.


*This piece was born out of a homework assignment given by the brilliant Jaya The Trust Coach, taken from her Expansion! class. If you’re in a time of life where you feel pressed to your edge, her wisdom and guidance can help you return to the truth of yourself and this loving universe.

My #1 Tip for Sore Arms & Shoulders

Your arms work so hard! Give them some extra love.

If you attended my Morning TLC for Interpreters workshop at TerpExpo, you learned about this simple and effective technique that provides instant relief to sore muscles, breaks up adhesions, and reduces trigger points. If you didn’t, watch this short video to get started.

My favorite lube to use with this technique is the Deep Blue Rub, made by doTerra. I use this heating/cooling cream daily on my arm and shoulder, and get wonderful instant relief. Try it today to reduce your pain and inflammation! 

deep blue benefits

What’s your favorite way to care for your shoulder and arm pain? 

With love and bright focus,
Breana

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