BE THE SAILBOAT OR THE DUCK?

imagesCAEW51O2  Stress is a part of life and how you handle it on the inside can reflect how you look on the outside.  For the people who know me by now, you can see that I love analogies and for anyone new, welcome to my blog and my perspective on things!

Some people look so calm on the outside and yet they talk about how stressed they are.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe what they are saying is true but it’s because they are a duck.  Remember going to the park and feeding the ducks?  They would all gracefully swim on top of the water as if they were gliding effortlessly, or so it seemed.  Under water there was a whole different story going on.  Their little webbed feet were paddling so fast and furious to reach their destination as if their feet were on fire!  From a distance, we can’t see their feet so we think they are free from any stress whatsoever and that things come easily for them.  Just like the person who is stressed out and doesn’t show it.  On the outside, they are Mr. or Mrs. Calm but on the inside, they are stirring up a storm that only they know all too well.  Just like the duck’s feet, we cannot see what is on the inside or in the duck’s case, under water.  That is not to say that stress is not a good thing, it can be very motivating in certain circumstances, especially if you are in front of an audience giving a talk, you definitely want to be the duck.  It’s when stress turns bad and starts to affect you physically, that’s when you want to learn how to sail.

caribbean-sailing-september[1]  Watching sailboats is so beautiful and relaxing.  With the right amount of wind and catching the best angle for your sails, you are off to the race of feeling free.  By letting the wind carry you while you ride the waves in the water, trusting you are safe is like letting go of some control in your life, dealing with stress as it comes and knowing that you will be ok is freedom of stress.  Often times on the sailboat there is a lot happening on the outside that we can see in order to make the sailboat move like watching out for the boom!  It looks busy and to some stressful but in fact, it’s organized and well thought out, almost with anticipation of what might come next.  This is what I have found to be useful in dealing with stress, if you can organize your thoughts and beliefs, you will focus your intention on smooth sailing and therefore have a relaxing day on the water, watching the ducks bobbing by!  So toss out your anchor, enjoy the present moment and watch out for the guy on the sea doo!         -JJ

WHAT IS YOUR I.Q. IN EMOTIONAL MATHEMATICS?

Who here loves math?  Who here loves emotions?  Well, did you know that the two of them can go hand in hand and can either set us free or hold us back in life?  Please allow me to explain.  You become what you believe-not what you wish for or want, but what you truly believe.  Wherever you are in your life, check out your beliefs because they put you there.

I have come across several people in my lifetime who are pretty upbeat and positive and see the glass as half full.  Then there are others who continually play the victim even when things are going well for them and yet they only see the glass as half empty or sadly, empty.  Why is that?  It’s because of an emotional equation that keeps repeating itself over and over again.  OK, pencils and erasers ready:      Let’s think negative for only a moment.  If there is something new you would like to do in your life but you think and believe that you will never make it or that you are not worthy or good enough, then this will become your focus.  What you focus on which is that you are not good enough will morph into your intention which then becomes “I’m a failure.”  You haven’t given yourself a chance and you are already failing in your own mind.  Seems pretty harsh doesn’t it?  By setting your intention, this is what you focus on which will become your reality, failure.  So what your thoughts, beliefs, focus and intentions are, becomes your reality.  Here is the emotional mathematical equation:  Thoughts x Beliefs x Focus x Intention = Reality. 

Now let’s take a positive spin with the same equation.  Someone would like to change careers and they really think that they are capable and deserving of a life that is full of happiness and excitement.   Of course they are scared but they believe they have all the skills necessary to do what is required to move forward in their lives.  Therefore, moving forward and doing what needs to be done becomes their focus.  They act like a fearless warrior taking on challenges and conquering fears that stand in their way and not letting them get the best of their mindset.   They are happy and grateful.  Their intention is that they will do anything to live their best life with passion and flair.  Suddenly, their reality is that they have new doors and windows opening up for them that they never imagined before and their sense of happiness has soared which attract other people.  (Law of Attraction for all you physics people…)  Their reality just landed them a new career.  The same emotional mathematical equation was used here but with different attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, focus, intention and reality.  Where do you fall in these examples?

Sometimes we arrive on the scene in the middle of this equation by witnessing an individual who is extremely focused on something whether it is positive or negative and we ask ourselves, “wow, he/she is so focused on….What is behind all that?”  What is behind it are their thoughts and beliefs, fuelling the fire.  If it is a negative thought and belief, the good news is that it can be transformed into a positive one if realized in time and more importantly, if the person wants to change their thoughts and beliefs.

So where does it all begin and end?  It begins with your thoughts and beliefs period.  It all depends on how you set out to tackle a situation.  How it unfolds is a reflection of your focus and intention.  Therefore, you cannot blame anyone for your reality which is essentially where it all ends.  Just as our beliefs can move us forward, they can also hold us back.  Why not choose to be happy and loving instead of fearful and full of doubts?  We are in charge of our own lives it’s up to us to not only find what fills our hearts, but how.  Happy studying and here’s to the glass half full!   Cheers!      -JJ

CALLING ALL NURSES: HOW MUCH OXYGEN IS LEFT IN YOUR TANK?

Have you ever been on an airplane and really paid attention to the flight attendant that is acting out the proper way to put on your oxygen mask in case of an emergency?  I am guessing the answer to that is “no.”  I have a challenge for you the next time you find yourself on a flight to paradise.  One of the reasons the flight attendant is demonstrating this necessary policy is because in order to help other people, you have to start with yourself first.  The same is true when you apply that to your career as a nurse.  We are not only taught but expected to take care of the patients, their families, and our colleagues, only to find out later that we forgot to take care of ourselves along the way too.  This is a normal consequence of doing a good job for others but not for us.  Is it possible to think that we count too?  Or is that just being selfish?  If we don’t put our oxygen mask on first, where does that leave us?  On the plane with the others heading for a crash landing in a town called BURNOUT.

The best way to avoid stress and burnout as a nurse is to start by putting your oxygen mask on first so that you have enough to give to others.  Also, you can only give what’s in your tank so it’s important to monitor this amount that you have at all times.  You do realize I am using a metaphor here and that the oxygen mask is an analogy for taking care of yourself, right?

Stress and burnout are rapidly increasing all over the world in every helping profession out there.  In schools, burnout is not even talked about which is sad.  Nurses are often overlooked for all the hard work they do and at the end of the day, we are expected to take care of our families at home and friends in need.  All of this is possible, as long as we take care of ourselves and don’t run our bodies on empty.  When our oxygen tank is no longer in the green and is heading straight for the red, it’s time to jump into self-compassion mode!  What is self-compassion anyway?

Self-compassion involves 3 key components that can ease our stress by far. (Neff, 2003)  Start by treating yourself kindly like the way you would treat a good friend who is suffering rather than using harsh judgment on yourself.  Two, try to see your own experience as part of a larger human experience instead of isolated and abnormal.  We are not perfect and neither is life.  Third, become aware of what you are feeling emotionally and let them be as they are instead of suppressing them for a later date.  On a physiological side which is a great side for nurses to understand, when we are being self-compassionate to ourselves it releases the “feel good” hormones of oxytocin and opiates.  Similarly, if we are self-critical when we have a bad day, it threatens our defense system and cortisol and adrenaline are released into the bloodstream making us feel even worse.  We become irritable, tired and stressed.  Do you see the road sign that is up ahead?  Burnout.  Unless you make a change soon, that is where you will end up.  So how do you change?

Practice the 3 key components of self-compassion and give yourself a time out or a break.  When you are able to do this, several things will begin to occur such as a greater desire to learn and grow, higher motivation, less frustrations, increases in life satisfaction, connectedness, gratitude, more effective coping skills, more caring and supportive relationship behaviour, more conscientiousness and improved health and wellness.

I am highly supportive of nurses all over the world who work so hard not only at work but also at home.  Give yourself a big hug for being such a compassionate person to others and then give yourself another hug for being a compassionate person to yourself.  You count too and not just during nurses week!  Remember, whatever you do, don’t forget to check your oxygen tank and put your mask on first!     -JJ