Saturday, May 30, 2015

Making Life Easier: Un busy Hacks When Affected by a Chronic Condition

We have more gadgets to do more things for us than any other time in history. Yet, instead of savoring our time, we have managed to pile more on top of it to the point that the most common respond to the question “how are you doing?” is “I’m so busy.” If you’re happy with what you are doing- great, but if you are busier than ever, and not enjoying it, then it’s time for a change.

• Less is more: Less stuff= less need for money=less need for work= less need for cleaning & maintenance = a much saner and slower paced life.

• Socialize with the Un busy: If your tired of a friend’s never accepting invitations and/or backing out of an engagement, understand what they’re telling you- they are too busy for you. Move on to find people that share similar interests and make time for socializing. The humans are social animals and we need that connection in order to thrive. In fact, those who live the longest socialize, and as the Dali Lama noted, We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive.”

• Recognize that busy is a choice so stop glorifying it: There isn’t a “too busy” merit badge. Take an inventory of your “too busy.” What are those things that feed your soul? What are the priorities in your life? Learn to say “no” to anything that doesn’t fall into either category.

• Schedule in time for rest and relaxation daily: This is particularly important for caregivers. Carve out a time each day so you can just relax, stretch and be mindful. Use tools like the Mindfulness Bell  to remind you to stop and breathe. Take Kripalu Yoga Breaks throughout the day, most of which are about 5 minutes and are easy to do.

• Un Plug: Between smart phones, e-mails, twitter, texting and social media, we’re a connected mess. We’re so busy responding and being fearful about missing something, that we have in fact missed the most important thing-savoring life.

Other “Hacks” in this Series
• Food 
• Happiness 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Take A Break: Share your Cognitive Surplus

Thank you to Vivienne and our conversation last week, which sparked this post.

 “Cognitive surplus” is a term coined by Clay Shirky and means the time freed from watching television, which can be enormously productive when applied to other social endeavors. Technology has turned many past consumers into producers. This new production capacity, combined with humanity's willingness to share, can change society if applied to civic endeavors. Wikipedia 
The short version is that social media offers incredible ways to share your ideas, gifts and talents, which community can benefit from.

Healing Whole is my sharing “cognitive surplus” to benefit those affected by chronic conditions. Interestingly, until I started writing this post, I hadn’t thought of it in terms of what the benefit has been for me. There have been many-from learning all sorts of new ideas for weekly “take a breaks;”  having an outlet for my frustrations with health care; as well as knowing I can help someone by writing or referring them to a post. Further, and maybe best of all, it keeps me studying and researching.

So here are some ways you can share your cognitive surplus.

 Citizen Science: Help make science happen by volunteering for a real research project 

• Establish an on-line presence for your community (family, friends, neighborhood, condition specific support group etc.) whereby they can interact to create a more positive environment using the social marketing tools of blogs, Instagrams, Facebook  and/or Twitter.

• Participate in Patients Like Me. By sharing your data, experiences, support and research you can “Live Better, Together.” 

Watch Clay Shirky at TED giving his How Social Media Can Make History

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Planning an Intervention for Situations Other Than Addiction

Interventions are not just for those with addiction issues. There are any number of reasons why this may be a good option when a persons’ behavior is a threat to themselves or others and they are in denial about it. Some examples: not taking medications; living in an abusive relationship; inability to manage one’s life due to illness and/or age; driving when they shouldn’t be.  

Consider this approach when talking to the person hasn’t worked and if the behavior, left unchecked, will have negative consequences.

It is important to recognize that a well-planned intervention can work quite well in helping someone make better choices about their life. A poorly planned one can end up with the person feeling attacked, isolated and may actually accelerate the undesirable behavior.

What is an Intervention: After careful planning, an individual is approached by a group of people that:
• Agree that a specific behavior needs to change
• Provide specific examples of destructive behavior and its negative impacts on self, family, friends, work environment etc.
• Outlines a pre arranged plan with steps, goals and guidelines as well as consequences if they refuse to change.

Planning the Intervention: An individual or several individuals who recognize the need for the intervention, meet with qualified professionals who can help with the planning and give guidance. This can include: medical team; condition specific organization (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation), counselor, social worker, therapist, religious leader, or an interventionist.  As part of this process:
-       Gather information about the extent of the person’s problem(s)
-       Work with a condition specific group to help identify resources and what approaches have been tried with people in similar situations. For example-The local aging service can help with aspects of planning an intervention with an elderly parent who should no longer be living alone.

The Intervention Team: It’s a good idea to have a mix of family, close friends and nonfamily.  Often the person has already heard from their immediate family about their behavior and they’ve tuned it out. However, hearing from friends, community members, co-workers etc. all at once can be the surprise that helps them accept the need to change. Non family can help to diffuse the anger, resentment or sense of betrayal someone can be experiencing as well as making sure the intervention stays focused on the facts and shared solutions. If the individual has a history of serious mental illness, violence, suicidal behavior and/or is taking drugs, it’s important that a professional be part of the intervention team.

Team members need to agree to the behavior change required, the plan itself, be willing to implement consequences and are willing to attend rehearsals.

Write a Script, Rehearse and Stick to It: Knowing what people are going to say and in what order is important. Sometimes a young child might be asked to speak first to set the tone. Keep in mind if a child is going to be involved, they may only need to do their part and then be excused. In addition to identifying concerns, not arguments, and a plan for dealing with the problem, scripts should let the person know they are loved and cared about; appreciated for what they’ve done and are doing; that you are there for them; the proposed plan will work; and things can improve. An example of a proposed script/letter is from a friend to a Mom who refuses to stay on her medications:
-       Statement of love and concern: I am here today because I love you and want you to be healthy.
-       Specific examples that illustrate the destructive behavior:  You couldn’t get out of bed for the last three days to take care of your children because you have been off your medication.
-       A plea for the person to get help: You can have a much healthier life, and be the exceptional Mom I know you are and want to by taking your medication as the doctor prescribed it.
-       Consequences if the behavior doesn’t stop: If you wont take your medication, I will have to report you to social services for neglect of your children.

Note that these letters can be left with the person after the intervention and can serve as important reminders.

Part of the team’s script will include who will do what if the person is ready to make the change. The more concrete the better. For example: Mom agrees that she can no longer live alone. The plan outlines:
• Date when Mom moves into the apartment attached to her son’s house.
• A schedule of dates and times when family/friends will help with packing.
• Date by which her daughter will have the house listed with a realtor and any items left disposed of.

While the number of times you need to rehearse depends on the situation and the nervousness of team members, it usually requires a minimum of two rehearsals. If someone is unable to attend these sessions, it’s best to find a replacement. Role-play to prepare for anger, argumentative behavior. Stick to the script during the intervention because changing it can throw other members of the team for a loop and derail the process.

Setting the date, time and place for the Intervention: Use a private but “formal” spot to hold the meeting.  The person’s home is not the best option as they can easily retreat to a bedroom or bathroom, and it’s also likely that this has been the scene for many heated discussions. Using a neutral space such as a therapist’s office, conference room, church or community center, it’s a lot harder for people to simply walk out and hide. Depending on the person, pick the time of day they function best.

The Intervention: Keep it brief, no longer than 60-90 minutes. During the intervention:
-       Avoid yelling, screaming, physical violence, shame, blame and guilt trips.
-       Stick to the facts and don’t argue with them.
-       Use the script and don’t deviate if at all possible.
-       Be prepared to carry out outlined steps or consequences at the close of the meeting.

Follow up: The plan developed prior to the intervention should outline steps for follow up. If they are not willing to make the change, you need to stay committed to consequences.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Take a Break: Be a Kid for a Day

Temps are heating up and thoughts of a summer day when I was a kid keep popping into my head. Ditch the computer and anything electronic and spend the day as if you were a kid again. Things to consider:

• Lay in the grass and stare at the clouds
• Catch bugs, especially fireflies
• Play hopscotch
• See if your friends/family will join you in a game of “Mother May I?, Simon Says, Hid-n-go-seek, kick the can
• Ride a bike
• Make a s'more (toasted marshmallow on a graham cracker with a piece of chocolate)
• Build a campfire (fire pits are fine) and sit around singing songs and telling stories
• Draw with sidewalk chalk
• Have macaroni and cheese for lunch
• Go for a swim
• Lay on a hammock and read comic books
• Shoot some hoops
• Jump on a trampoline
• Play at the park.
• Swing
• Run through a sprinkler
• Make some finger puppets and play with them

• Take a nature walk
• Water balloons!
• Go fishing
• Fly a kite
• Climb a tree
• Bird Watch
• Paint rocks
• Wade in a river or at the beach
• Spatter paint
• Play dress ups
• Eat an ice cream cone
• Color
• Blow bubbles
• Skip
• Dance to some favorite music
• Sing out loud
• Kick a stone while you go for a walk
• See how loud you can belch
• Go to the movies and see a “family friendly” movie
• Call your best friend from childhood and talk on the phone for an hour
• Plan a treasure hunt.
• Talk like a pirate.
• Jump rope
• Chew bubble gum
• Blow up balloons and try to stick them on the wall using static electricity. 

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas.