Surviving Social Work in Pandemic: A Practice Model in Staying Well

I had created this presentation for my unit about 2 months into the Pandemic. Probably the only time ever in my long career to take on an ass kissing task like this. Admittedly, I was struggling to get my footing and I knew that this slow period needed to be spent in a meaningful type of way. So the social worker in me decided to social work myself and put this helpful guide together for others alike.

Approaching Wellness From a Canadian Indigenous Framework

The Medicine Wheel: Organizing our Wellness

How Can We Lead or Support Our Teams if We Are Struggling too?

“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”

Lets Begin

Spirituality

“Solitude is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Spirituality as a Support to Mourning and Grieving; Identify those losses in your life and all that you are missing. Create idea pin boards, lists of restaurants, places you want to travel, bucket list plans, or even festivals you want to attend. These will all contribute to a sense of hope by changing your lens that some of these losses are just temporary and better times are ahead.

Connect with others who are passionate about the same issues.  Whether it’s your self-care buddies, community of care, or a local organization or campaign you are volunteering for, surround yourself with people who can understand how you feel. Venting alone doesn’t help, combine complaining with action! Get into the practice of walking away during your Venting/Complaining Sessions with action items of how to constructively do something about the things we want to see changed.

Put good deeds back into the universe—directly. Focus on creating that human connection, on giving back and showing others that there is still kindness in the world. Balance your self-care with a healthy dose of kindness activism.

Curate your methods of staying informed. Truly evaluate how much news you are absorbing and be mindful of how the news affects you—physically, mentally and emotionally. Almost two years ago, I decided to stop getting my news from television. Turn off all but one of the push notifications on my phone in order to limit interruptions during the day.

Give myself permission to cry. Anticipate the ebb and flow of emotions that go along with the adaptation processes.  Feeling sad, disheartened, or downright hopeless at times is a commonality among us all.

Incorporate Prayer/Meditation/Breathing Exercise’s in the morning and at night if you are struggling to manage the anxiety, worries and restlessness.

Consider What’s in Front of You. Pay attention to what is simply visibly present around us that blesses us each day

Examples:
Did you tackle a recipe that you’ve been meaning to try, or bake a cake from scratch that actually turned out?
Did you hit the lottery and able to find Lysol Wipes or toilet paper at the store?
Were you able to finally transition from your day pajamas to wearing pants for your zoom/skype meetings?
Is your family safe with you at home?
Is the isolation and social distancing giving you more time to make room for other things that never had time for before?

Don’t minimize your accomplishments as small as they may seemingly be.

Try some for yourself!

And Most Importantly…Don’t Forget to Laugh

Physically:

“Did my FitBit  really only count 932 steps today?”

•Create a space in your home to work in(outside of your bedroom), and make it your own by filling it with things that bring you joy. Ensure your set up properly so you have all the items you need from forms, technology, and equipment.

•Ensure you are taking wellness breaks by getting up, walking, cycling, gardening or spending time in your drive-way chatting to the neighbor across the street. Included in this may also look like trips to the fridge for a snack. These steps count!

•Schedule time for Fitness in your day: Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, now is the time to get moving. Not only will it improve your energy, but boost your immune system in times we need to stay healthy.

•Now is the time to take your vitamins and eat as much nutrient rich foods as you can. Sun is also a great source of Vitamin D- Take your computer and sit in the sun when you can, to avoid an unnecessary trip to the pharmacy.

You’re Hella Canadian if you grew up with these two!

Free Fitness Resources/Apps

´1. RUNTASTIC

Running, jogging, biking – it doesn’t matter how you train, keeping track of your workouts is essential. Runtastic allows you to set goals, uses a built-in GPS to record routes in real-time, and even lets you share your successes with your friends.

PERKS OF RUNTASTIC

The app syncs with Apple Music to offer high tempo playlists for true musical motivation

By tracking your mileage, Runtastic guages what wear and tear your trainers are enduring

´2. ASANA REBEL: YOGA AND FITNESS

You don’t have to be a full-blown ‘yogi’ to use Asana Rebel. This handy little fitness app offers the perfect introduction to the regime. Rather than bombarding you with annoying notifications, you get a green dot on the built-in calendar when you train. You also get two new workouts every day so you’ll never get stuck doing the same old routine.

PERKS OF ASANA REBEL

When you first login to the app – using Facebook or an email – you’ll see a screen that asks you to ‘unlock’ the premium version. Don’t be fooled. You can still use the free option by simply clicking the exit button at the top of the screen.

´3. MYTRAINING WORKOUT TRACKER LOG

MyTraining packs a selection of helpful training videos, a routine log, and a handy calendar feature, but that’s not all. Technology may have come a long way, but you just can’t beat support from world class coaches. That’s exactly what this tracking app offers.

PERKS OF MYTRAINING

Got a burning question about your workout? Simply open the chat feature and speak to a certified coach in minutes.

´4. MY VIRTUAL MISSION

Are you in need of some workout motivation? If your current exercise is less-than-inspiring, My Virtual Mission may be the app for you. Use it to create the virtual fitness route of your dreams – literally. If you can imagine a route, the app can create it.

PERKS OF MY VIRTUAL MISSION

If you have a desired route in mind, the app will tell you how many miles that is and set a goal for you.

When you’ve completed the route, you can even send a virtual postcard to your contacts to show off.

5. COUCH TO 5K RUNNER

The hardest part of any run is taking that first step. Couch to 5K offers running novices all the advice, support, and help they could possibly need. The NHS program claims to get people off the couch and running in just nine weeks.

PERKS OF COUCH TO 5K RUNNER

Great for easing you into your new regime, so you can realistically work your way from a 15-minute route to a 5K run

Each workout is guided by a voice over from the likes of Olympian Michael Johnson to BBC presenter Jo Whiley

6. DAILY WORKOUTS FITNESS TRAINER

Ideally, staying fit and healthy means hitting the gym or track regularly. However, sometimes, you may not have the chance to get out nor the time to dedicate to it. The Daily Workouts Fitness Trainer app means you can exercise well in the comfort of your own home.

PERKS OF DAILY WORKOUTS FITNESS TRAINER

You can choose which area of your physique you’d like to target and the app offers a simple yet effective five to 30-minute workout that fits the bill

The uniquely genius thing about this app is it’s simplicity. Download it, pick a discipline, and get working

7. FITBOD WEIGHT LIFTING TRAINER

If the CrossFit phenomenon has inspired you, you’re not alone. More men and women are lifting weights than ever. When giving this regime a shot, Fitbod Weight Lifting Trainer is the ideal app. The step-by-step nature of the program makes planning an effective strength training workout effortless.

PERKS OF FITBOD

The more you use the app, the more it understands your abilities and the challenges you face

You can tailor your workouts to suit your training style and the available equipment too

Free Dance Apps/Websites

Apps for IOS/Android 

 Top 20 Free Dancing Apps To Learn Dance On Android And iOS Device1.1 Crazy Flamenco Rumba Dance

´1.2 ElfYourself ´

1.3 Just Dance Now

´1.4 Step Dance ´

1.5 Hip Hop Dance

´1.6 Pole Dance Lessons

´1.7 Pocket Salsa

´1.8 Dancing elf

´1.9 Face Dance

´1.10 Animate Yourself 3D

´1.11 Belly Dance Fitness

´1.12 Animate Me

´1.13 NinjaMe

´1.14 Hip Hop Dance School

´1.15 STEEZY Studio

´1.16 DWM

´1.17 Learn Bhangra

´1.18 Santa’s Christmas Dance

´1.19 Baby Hazel Ballerina Dance

´1.20 Dance School Stories

Emotional:

“REMEMBER, IT’S HUMAN TO FEEL HOPELESS.”

The National Center for Emotional Wellness defines this term as an awareness, understanding, and acceptance of your emotions, and your ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.

Emotional Wellness is so important there is even a whole month dedicated to this, can anyone guess what month that is?

For the most part, being human means having challenges and problems; however, it’s all about how you deal or cope with those issues that determines your emotional wellness.

It’s about embracing all the goodness in your life and looking at your glass as half-full rather than half-empty

Lets do a test-
Are you maintaining a good sense of emotional wellness?

1)Living in the present, without excessive worry about the future or rumination about the past?

2)Do you feel connected to others?

3)Self compassion?

4)Have you been holding on to grudges and been unforgiving?

5)Do you feel that you have been thinking rationally?

6)Do you feel in control of your own feelings, thoughts and actions?

7)Can you laugh at life and yourself? 8)Have you felt grateful lately?

Intellectually:

How do we stay sharp when the World’s been flipped upside down on us?

Defining Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness encourages us to engage in creative and mentally-stimulating activities. These activities should expand your knowledge and skills while allowing you to share your knowledge and skills with others.

Intellectual wellness can be developed through academics, cultural involvement, community involvement and personal hobbies.

Why is Intellectual Wellness Important?

Intellectual wellness encourages learning. It is important to explore new ideas and understandings in order to become more mindful and better-rounded. Having an optimal level of intellectual wellness inspires exploration. Intellectual wellness also stimulates curiosity. Curiosity is important because it motivates you to try new things and develop an understanding of how you see the relationship between yourself, others and the environment.

The Route to Intellectual Wellness

Be open to new ideas, new cultures, new knowledge, new skills and new environments. When you have an open mind, the world is truly yours. This allows you to explore issues relating to problem solving, critical thinking, learning and creativity. Below is a list of suggestions for you to adopt in order to enhance your intellectual wellness.

Listen. When you participate in active listening you are able to fully comprehend the information that is being given to you.

Pick up a hobby. Hobbies are great ways to increase your skill set. They can also be fun!

Express your creative side by exploring different avenues of creativity and artistic expressions.

Sessions that support Intellectual Wellness

´Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction: Mindfulness is seeing things more clearly, and paying attention moment to moment to moment. When you are mindful, you notice what is happening—as it is happens. This creates a space, a pause in which you can respond considerately to situations, rather than react. Creative possibilities open up; new ways of being with life’s challenges can present themselves.

´Transformational Coaching: Together we will identify the specific steps to make your dreams a reality. In addition, we will overcome fear, self-doubt and find the clarity needed to make the changes you desire. And finally, we will co-create strategies and your plan to reach your goals so you can achieve and have a well balanced life.

Steps to Achieve or Maintain Intellectual Wellness

´Read. There are good books, newspaper articles, essays from the internet that can be read by anyone. Through reading, your comprehension skill is challenged and it widens vocabulary that would equip you with the new development around.

´Listen to good music and radio program. It is found therapeutic to listen to positive music because it calms the emotions and decreases the risk of stress.

´Watch positive TV programs and videos. Choose informative videos and not the ones that corrupt the mind or infuse negative ideas. This way, you will absorb positive energy that enhances the ability to think.

´Be creative. When there is an activity to do, challenge yourself to make something new and different, not the one you are accustomed to, to see how far your mental ability can go.

´Desire to continue learning. Always challenge yourself to learn something new to keep your brain active and be curious to what is unknown to you.

´Attend seminars or workshops. This will help you gain new ideas that are seldom included in the books you buy. You will also improve your social wellness by meeting people and gaining new friends.

´Eat a well-balanced diet. Proper nutrition is significant for the brain to function well and avoid mental stresses that may cause additional health problems.

Questions to consider as we go forward into a continuum of change and time of uncertainty…

Reflect on some of the old habits that were no longer serving purpose to you. What were they? How did they impact your self-care and wellness. What will happen if you let go of them?

What Habits have you acquired during the pandemic that have been beneficial and what is your plan to continue it?

Identify times, actions, or accomplishments that demonstrated strength and resilience in yourself? Can you share this with your team?

How have you grown or changed in reference to the 4 quadrants of the medicine wheel in the last 2 months? Where do you see areas that need attention? How can your leadership support this?

Can I Just Unload For a Minute? That was a Rhetorical Question, Because Here it Comes.

funny sad dog - Dump A Day

I will preface this post with acknowledging that I am doing better than most folks and by no means want to silence the voices or real struggles that people are facing everyday. Most days I start by saying this to myself and finding gratitude in the small things. But today…I’m going to put that aside for a minute and just be real with you all.

Because…..

Wheewwww Chile’! My Mental Health is getting a run for its money honey!

Today was a rough day.

In fact its been a rough 2 weeks.

Where do I start.

It is so hard working in child protection during a pandemic. Outside of the obvious complicating factors, we are short handed, and lacking all of the previous programs and supports we had before to intervene or provide safety. It seems like every time I have a great plan formulated after spending hours, sometimes days making it, Covid-19 happens undoing it all. Today I asked for additional time to work on stuff, but given the governments current financial climate- Overtime is scarce these days. And I understand. I just hate to see families wait, or crisis unfolds while I pluck away through as much as I can in the 7.25 hours I have. After several burn outs, I am not the social worker who will now work for free or sacrifice my time to meet those needs unless absolutely necessary. Being a social worker is about the long run baby…they already caused me to lose most of what is left sane in my membrane. But still it pains me to see people suffer and not devote more time to them when in need. I know I am only one person, and boundaries are a must, but still, that doesn’t make me sleep better at night.

Additionally, we are not getting paid for the hours we have been putting in due to a new payroll system that was released which was inadequate to meet the various positions we all hold. So many have not been paid, me included. See The News Coverage Here.

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We are 2 months into a lockdown- I had hoped to use my extra cash to buy a treadmill to counteract the stress I’m feeling with my workload and address my ailing spirits and overall mental health and wellness. Looks like its not coming. To boot my damn credit card got compromised so I’m sitting here waiting the 7-10 days for it to be replaced. I went to go return some stuff I had impulsively bought at HomeSense and they told me I couldn’t because the credit card I had used was no longer active so I’d have to receive a store credit. Not helpful to a woman who is not getting paid by her government employer. I pulled a Karen and got nowhere. Imagine that.

Who Is Karen and Why Is She So Mad? | HowStuffWorks

Things just don’t’ seem to be getting better. I’ve taken to drinking a lot more (I’m not saying this is problematic), as in I used to only drink the casual 1-2 bottles of wine on the weekend. I’m now averaging 1-2 bottle every second day…and not spread over 2 days, but mainly all in one go-sometimes its shared, sometimes I’m greedy. I know this is not the answer but at this time it just feels like the lubricant I need to unwind from the days that seem to be out of the movie Ground Hog Day. My point is, its sad day when the only joy and reprieve these days is when 4:30 hits and your eyes light up as you watch that sweet elixir hit the decanter. If only I could look like Olivia Pope while engaging in my scheduled cry fest tucked up with my stemless wine glass/AKA Sippy cup.

Protected Blog › Log in | Scandal fashion, Olivia pope outfits, Olivia pope  style
Olivia Pope “Scandal”- She makes alcoholism on a Tuesday so Sexy!

Lately I’ve noticed my anxiety is through the roof. I’m becoming unhinged and its impacting my relationships. I worry and fret about stupid stuff and feel an overwhelming need to have total control over everything as if I’m the one that should be at the wheel of anything right now. Especially when I’m two bottles deep!

Then there are lingering effects of Covid on my brain from last July are still here, as I see how it impacts me in times of stress where I become even more forgetful and absent minded. I can’t afford to be this way right now. I’m embarrassed in how it impacts me in front of colleagues. I can’t always think on the fly, or remember important information, sometimes even names and words when I’m presenting to a panel of people. Its fucking with my confidence- and I feel like everyone is looking at me strangely. That in itself is probably the anxiety speaking too.

I feel like all I can do is eat, work and sleep. I cling onto my dog feeling like I need to absorb whatever loving energy she has to give me.

I’m neither depressed, or sad, just feeling rather exhausted with the bullshit that is 2020/2021. I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the woman I see. Where the hell did she go? It feels like that woman has gone on a perpetual vacation and will return when the world gets its shit together again.

Today is a reminder for me to get it the hell together before depression takes a hold of me and I’m no longer able to recognize these emotions as temporary and reactionary to a shitty day.

Tomorrow will be better.

Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

A New Culture of Maladaptive Parenting: Nurturing Fear, Anxiety and Mistrust in time of Chaos.

Protect children from radicalisation - Internet Matters

There is often not one day that goes by during my work week that I’m not left thinking about some profound lesson. Today was no different, as I carried out my role as a social worker within the child welfare system. I’m sure 50% of you are either rolling their eyes with disdain towards me, and the other wondering what horror stories I have for them today. But for the most part, my days are much like today where I get immersed in learning and listening about peoples lives. Conversations can vary drastically from feeling like I’m pulling teeth, or the latter, where I get more information than I bargained for. Both often leave me at times feeling impatient as I’m not always afforded the opportunity to get down to the meat and potatoes of the presenting concerns that initiated our introduction to one another.

Today was as good as it gets, as I felt privileged that this one Kiddo really opened up and let me into their world, and as a result opened my mind to some new learning. We had made some initial small talk about the Inauguration that morning, and touched upon the pandemic- it was a carefully placed Segway that set the remainder of my interview up. You see I was looking to explore the impact of Emotional Injury or psychological effect as it pertained to the Radical Anti-Masker/Trumpism/Patriot belief systems by the guardian. Due to obvious confidentiality issues I can’t discuss where this particular conversation went, but it posed a question in the back of my head when I was done.

Where is my Skill Level at in Reference to Understanding How the Adolescent Mind Processes Harmful, Fear Based Propaganda and Extremist/Radical Belief Systems? And How does my own Bias and belief system play a role within my capacity to fairly assess?

I’m sure by now You all have heard about one of the Domestic Terrorist Rioters – Guy Reffit, who was arrested by FBI who had threatened to kill his children if they told the FBI he had taken part in the riot. Find the Story Here. Believe it or not, this is not an isolated incident.

Texas man at Capitol riot allegedly threatened to kill his kids if they turned him in: ‘Traitors get shot’

Capitol Rioter Threatened To Shoot His Children If They Turned Him In To The  FBI - Small Joys

While this case is not only a form of Domestic Violence/Abuse- there is a sub-category that us folks in the Western World are just getting a taste of. Over the years in my practice of social work I’ve counted on cultural brokers and religious leaders to help navigate and bridge a level of understanding between my own cultural beliefs and biases and others unlike me. As a result, I’m cognizant that in the world there are countries that remain in warfare level conflict as a result of their differing beliefs, and have done so for thousands of years. I’m aware of the complex trauma that follows these families for generations as they settle in Canada and struggle to adapt as a result of us not being equipped to address it as soon as re-settlement begins. I can’t imagine that some of us would have ever imagined this level of divide within the Western World, let alone believe that violence could be the answer to our problems. Yet here we are.

I feel like as this Pandemic continues to divide one another and sever friendships, families become further at risk as a result of the isolation and contentious attitudes that arise from the conflict. I’ve talked about this exact subject before Read Here.

Previously our networks could be counted on to provide us an authentic sense of reassuring safety and support, but has been rapidly replaced by a culture of mistrust, suspicion, and deepening conspiracy theories. This is the message that is being absorbed now within the confines of homes, where once children, youth and families felt safe- but have now come to believe they are not.

Extremism is “the quality or state of being extreme” or “the advocacy of extreme measures or views”. The term is primarily used in a political or religious sense, to refer to an ideology that is considered (by the speaker or by some implied shared social consensus) to be far outside the mainstream attitudes of society.

For most adults, we had the experience of growing up in varying different ways. For the majority of the luckier adults, they experienced a relatively well adapted, stable, and healthy childhood. The need for us 30/40 somethings to be “woke” back then was as simple as needing to count on our pre-historic alarm clocks to get us up for school. Nowadays, there is a level of pressure placed on children and youth to be fully informed on everything that occurs in the world. There is a significant difference between discussing world events and irrelevant anxiety inducing content all day long. Children and Youth are growing up in a world where they are fully exposed, non stop, to unfiltered, jarring and disturbing images and stories. For these youth and children, they then come home and find no reprieve- as the parents have become completely engrossed in the toxicity of it all. Free thinkers are not born in this climate, free thinkers are born in environments whereby they feel safe in questioning and challenging things they may not agree with, and not face the threat of being killed, rejected, or unheard. Here lies the “emotional injury” I was seeking to explore more.

I came across this helpful paper written by The Ran Center of Excellence titled ‘Vulnerable children who are brought up in an extremist environment’ which in summary states:

“Children growing up in a family with extremist influences are
particularly vulnerable to becoming radicalised themselves.
Despite the difficulties faced by practitioners to identify these
children, protecting them is essential. Effective interventions may
include offering alternative relationships and counselling, providing
(intercultural) education and using trauma and creative therapy for
the most severely traumatised children. Removal from the families
may also be necessary in cases in which transgenerational
extremism is causing significant distress to the child and is putting
them in danger. But separating children from their families is not
always the best solution. As such, it is crucial for practitioners to
carefully consider what is in the child’s best interest. This requires
finding the delicate balance between what it is good for the child
and what it means to force the child into a safer environment.”

Radical Voices | University of London

While many extremists/Radicals feel they are exercising their freedoms of free thought they are in fact imposing and stifling their children’s ability to develop and learn how to decipher what is their own opinion versus one that is enforced upon them. The interest of the child in extremist families may be trumped by the interest of the cause. For some extremist parents, their children are a means to reach a certain outcome and part of their ideological arsenal. They can be used to defend their ideas and give mass to their group. Despite what is sometimes believed, an extremist upbringing puts the child at a higher risk, not society.

In political science, the term radicalism is the belief that society needs to be changed, and that these changes are only possible through revolutionary means. Most people think of left-wing politics when they use the noun radicalism, although people on both ends of the spectrum can be described as radical.

I’ve seen adolescents act out as a result of reinforced negative attention they received over the years- I can’t help but feel at some point this may shift over the next while. I can confidently say I’ve witnessed children/youth now vying for their parents attention and being rewarded with it when aligning now with some extremist/radical belief systems. They verbatim regurgitate their parents rhetoric…this is exactly how racism, sexism, misogyny and every other “Ism” in the book gets reinforced through the generations. The more they agree, the more attention they get, and a bond/relationship begins to grow despite how maladaptive the context is. We often see these behaviors happen with child sexual abuse cases- where children are groomed to go along with the abuse, so as to minimize any harm or be denied affection.

Anyways I did not want to get too deep into this today as I just felt compelled to share my “Ah Ha” moment today. I was left with some significant food for thought, and a desire to start getting on this as soon as possible in terms of how will I approach working with families in an already polarizing climate.

Perhaps dialogue with families with these attitudes can explore a few of these concepts that move towards a more Freer Thinking Ideology that I came across in an article in Psychology Today by Marty Nemko Ph.D.

Beware of confirmation bias. Once we’ve developed a viewpoint, we tend to notice or accept only ideas that conform to those views. That’s called confirmation bias. So you’ll need to be strong to be open-minded to views that aren’t liberal and that don’t advocate for yet more redistribution.

Beware of commitment bias. Our biases get ossified further when we make a commitment. For example, if we volunteer for a Democratic candidate, to maximize our good feeling about that, we more strongly support Democratic party positions.

Argue for the opposing point of view. If you are, for example, as I am, strongly pro-choice, read a few pro-life articles and then try to make the best case you can for the pro-life position. If you’re in favor of gun control, read a few articles against it and then try to make the best case you can.

Be humble. As writer Frank A. Clark wrote, “We find comfort among those who agree with us, growth among those who don’t.” Beware of being too cocksure you’re right, even if the schools, media, colleges, and friends insist you are. On so many issues, especially that foundational one of increased redistribution versus meritocracy, there really are strong positions on both sides.

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