Tag Archives: brain integration

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.

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.