Tag Archives: quiet time

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 interpreter

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.

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  


Monthly Live Burnout Proof Academy Workshops are in the works!

In case you missed it, registration is open for Burnout Proof 101! This one-hour live webinar will be a great introduction or refresher to some of the foundational Burnout Proof practices like:

  • solidifying new habits
  • making time for yourself
  • prioritizing joy
  • the magic of budgeting your energy
  • why boundaries are so essential to good self-care
  • how to feel better about saying “no.”

September 30th is the only time I plan to teach this class live, so don’t miss it!


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.

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.

 

Embracing the Darkness

Hello dear ones,

The darkest month of the year is upon us.

This season asks that we get quiet, that we be still, that we allow time for contemplation. Awaiting the return of the light, we are left to sit in the darkness. The dark places we try hard not to see. The places we don’t want to love. The grief, disappointment, fear, longing…these are the places that call out for the flame of our attention. 

Look around you, dear one. Everything in nature reflects this inward journey. Do not fear it. Even though it may look like death – like loss and pain and relinquishing control – this journey actually brings you closer to Life. 

And so we ask, and wait, and listen…

What am I grieving?

What am I afraid of?

What am I longing for?

What pain or discomfort do I resist?

These questions point us toward the cobwebbed corners of our souls that we would rather not sit with. The rooms of our castle, as Debbie Ford describes it, that we lock up and learn to forget. In her transformative book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, she writes:

“The castle is a metaphor to help you grasp the enormity of who you are. We each possess this sacred place inside ourselves. It is easily accessed if we are ready and willing to see the totality of who we are. Most of us are scared of what we will find behind the doors to these rooms. So instead of setting out on an adventure to find our hidden selves, full of excitement and wonder, we keep pretending the rooms don’t exist. The cycle continues. But if you truly desire to change the direction of your life you must go into your castle and slowly open each and every door. You must explore your internal universe and take back all that you’ve disowned. Only in the presence of your entire self can you appreciate your magnificence and enjoy the totality and uniqueness of your life.”

In the cycle of seasons – the death and rebirth of our natural world – we need this time of peeling back the layers, mourning the losses, letting go of all that is ready to transition. It is the only way to make space for new growth. 

And so, with excitement and wonder, I invite you to open a forgotten room of your castle. To sit with yourself and these dim dusty places, and to clear space for your own magnificence. 🌟

xo, Breana


December Oil Protocol. Siberian Fir - across chest. To assist in grieving, forgiving, & letting go. "I release any worry and blame  to my higher power."  Geranium - on heart space. To restore trust and confidence in ourselves and each other. "I can trust myself and others."  Myrrh - in navel. For nurturing, comfort and support. "I receive the nurturing, comfort, and support that shows up today." @brighter

PS: If you need help getting certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils and learning how to use safely use them, just grab a spot on my calendar, I’d love to assist you.

Minding My Business: How I’m Making 2017 My Year

I don’t know about you, but right about now I’m more than a little concerned about the state of our country and our world. There are any number of terrifying scenarios that can (and do, sometimes) keep my brain running late into the night. At times the heaviness mounts to a pressure that threatens to crush my little spirit. How can we make a difference?
In these moments, especially, I lean heavily on my self-rescue toolbox. I push the pause button on my fear and I practice what I preach. I take a deep breath and channel Byron Katie: What’s my business? And I start there.
Some may wonder: How does this help? 
Well, let me tell you. When your airplane is going down and your cabin is losing pressure, you just must absolutely put on your own oxygen mask first. There is no way to be a hero, no way to comfort those around you, no way to make one smidge of difference until you are breathing yourself.
And so, here we are. In our plane which some might say is dangerously close to going down….and I’m putting on my mask.
What does that look like? You ask.
I’m happy to tell you.
Getting a Brighter Focus: Self-Rescue Blueprint
 
When I’m in need of a recalibration, this is my jam. There are probably millions of billions of ways to do each of these steps, so that’s where your own unique creativity comes in. Play with them, make it an experiment, and let me know how it goes!
 
  1. Get Quiet
  2. Think Big
  3. Start Small
  4. Give Thanks
Get Quiet
For me, this requires taking intentional space and time, alone, to just breathe and be. I absolutely must by comfy, so you’ll likely find me in slippers, soft pants, and a hoodie. I suggest you do the same. I might be biased.
Bre comfy
Spend some time, in this quiet alone space, with your breath. You might meditate. You might light a candle and sit in the dark. You might lie on your back and stare at the ceiling with your hands on your belly. You might be in a hot epsom salt bath. Whatever it is, just tune in to yourself and relax. Whenever I do this, I’m astonished by how much tension my body carries out of habit; and as soon as I notice it I feel it start to melt away. It is so magical, and so worth the 10 minutes!
During my quiet time I experiment with fun ways to help me get in touch with my spirit and the loving nature of the Universe. Pick one and start there. Some of my favorites right now:
sticky note affirmations
Think Big
 
Once I’m centered in myself and feeling calm and good, I want to take full advantage of the theta waves I’ve produced. I get to work. What to do while in this headspace?
Start Small
 
After getting all creative and big picture, it’s time to break it down. Teeny tiny bite-sized chunks is what we’re going for here. Whatever it is you just thought Big about, come up with the very smallest, very first thing you’ll need to do to scooch toward it.
Ask: What is the very next step?
 
And now, the hard part: Do that. At the very least, make a non-negotiable date in your calendar to get it done.
Give Thanks
 
Sometimes it’s easy to focus on all that didn’t go right, or what we wished we had, or on all that we’ve lost. When we can shift our focus, even just the tiniest bit, to what we do have, what went right, what gifts the challenge brought us, then a magical thing happens. We begin to take control of our own happiness. We transform our reality by changing our take on it. And it feels really fricking good in the moment. So now’s your chance…try it.
Ideas for finding gratitude:
i am only one
This process could take days or weeks, or it could take minutes. If you’re pressed for time, but committed to shifting your energy and effectiveness, make friends with your timer.
Let’s make 2017 the year we did not refuse to do the something that we could do. Will you join me?
 

Spring-Clean Your Self-Care

Spring is a time of year for renewal and new beginnings. Whether it’s by planting your garden, decluttering, cleaning house, or just opening up the windows, this time of year beckons us back to life. Around our house, kids can be found playing outdoors in the late evening sun, bags of clothes are being passed on to friends, and the bathroom is getting a deep clean.
spring
After a long dreary winter (especially here in Portland), our psyches & bodies can accumulate just as much dust as our windowsills. This could feel heavy, tired, or like you’re emotionally stuck in quicksand.

Here are 3 easy ways to spring clean your self-care, to blow the dust out of our chimneys, open all the windows, and let the light stream in.

1. Hydrate
A super easy way to help our bodies process and purge the harsh leftovers from our winter indulgences is to up our water intake. You don’t need to drink so much that your bladder feels like it’s going to burst every 5 minutes, just enough to really get things flowing for a few days. When I’m trying to flush my system, I aim to drink enough that I pee every hour. I also like to up the detoxifying effects (and make it super yum) by adding a drop of lemon, lime, or grapefruit essential oil (just make sure it is certified pure!).

2. Take Time for Yourself
Contrary to its name, ‘Me Time’ isn’t selfish, it’s actually one of the most sefless things we can do. As natural givers we are often serving others and helping to meet their needs. In order to do this with authenticity and love, we must be taking care of ourselves regularly. This spring, commit to adding one small act of ‘Me Time’ to your daily routine–and if you don’t already practice it, make it a Morning Ritual.

A Morning Ritual is a bit of time that you devote to your own self-care (and if this is a new concept to you, read this awesome book!). You may do some yoga or stretching, read a passage from an inspirational book, mindfully make a cup of tea, sit quietly in reflection, write in a journal, or any practice that connects you more fully with your own aliveness in the present moment. It can be as little as one minute (seriously), but I promise you will be amazed at what a difference it makes to your day!

A good morning. #affirmations #doterralove #morningritual

A photo posted by @breanacrosshall on

3. Sweat
Any way you do it, movement that raises your heart rate is an excellent way to release the bad stuff we’ve stored up and make more capacity for the good stuff. Start with 5 minute segments: power walk around the block, hula hoop, jump rope, dance to your favorite song, have a horse stance competition with your kids, or plank. The increase in oxygen and blood flow, and the endorphins that exercise releases will turbo charge your next several hours…it’s a better high than coffee!!

Do you have a self-care habit you’d like to share? Please leave it in the comments below!!


If you’re in need of a more serious self-care intervention, check out this post. 

And if your body could use some extra help coming back to life, join me for a free essential oils class (in person or virtual) to learn about my favorite natural way to supercharge my health. Just shoot me a message here and we’ll work out a time to talk!

Hope you feel the vibrancy & aliveness of this magical season!

My Best Year Yet

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~Mary Oliver

fall leaves road

Every fall I spend a night or two away, alone, gathering the highlights and disappointments from my previous year, extrapolating lessons learned, re-committing to my values and the roles I play in my life, and setting goals for the year ahead. This process is outlined in Jinny Ditzler’s book Your Best Year Yet, which is a contender on my shelf of Top 10.

Best Year Yet by Jinny Ditzler

This tradition began for me in 2008. Embroiled in the not-so-easy task of raising small children, continuing my work as a sign language interpreter, managing rental properties, and being a stellar wife, my then-husband Rich and I adopted the practice of stealing away overnight to clarify and re-commit to our values and priorities. We worked through this process individually and then shared our highest hopes and deepest intentions with each other, lending support and accountability and in the process strengthening our own resolve. This process became a centerpiece of our year, and we would return rejuvenated and inspired with a clear and do-able action plan for the coming weeks and months.

Breana at Best Year Yet 2008

Breana at Best Year Yet 2008

When I came out in 2010 and Rich and I ended our marriage, this practice became my lighthouse–keeping me anchored in my values, successes, and intentions even as the seas raged around and within me and my world felt so very vulnerable. Taking the time to be still and quiet, to reconnect with all I held dear, was an act of faith and self-love.

Today I spend much more than one night a year alone and contemplating these foundational structures of my life. I take time every morning to nourish myself and affirm my vision, and yet, this special weekend remains a touchstone–a time to be quiet and still in nature and to get a bird’s-eye-view on this one precious life I am living.

Hank at the beach

Hank in heaven

This morning Hank and I woke in the dark to the tinkling melody of raindrops on the tin roof, cuddled up in a sweet cozy trailer on the Oregon coast, with nothing to do but play, ponder, and write. As the wind smacked wet needles across our cheeks we headed to the beach and played fetch in the flying sand, watching the sky lighten around us. On this beach 100 miles from my bed, from my kids and work and partner and friends, I get to take a good long look at what I’ve created and then etch the intention on my heart for what will come next. In this trailer I take complete responsibility for the beauty and the disappointment in my life, and I employ my boundless creativity to make it exactly as I envision. When I return home this evening I will have a single-page outline to guide me into this coming best year, my well overflowing, energized and ready to serve.

From this carved-out space between days I send up a flare to you, dear reader. How will you claim a sacred moment for yourself to make the most of your one precious life?