Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Posttraumatic Stress, Grief, Burnout, and Secondary Trauma of Social Workers

More recently I’ve heard the term “Secondary /Vicarious Trauma,” used during my debriefing team check-ins as we have all become more aware of the the need to be proactive in this area. I personally am far too familiar with Burn-out and Compassion Fatigue, whereby I have applied the prescriptive measures to mitigate the impact on me.

However, as the months have marched on and the world of child welfare has become complex and discouraging, I’ve become somewhat detached emotionally from how I’m dealing as I’m far too consumed with the bigger issues of the families I serve. The only way I can describe the feeling is in terms of feeling perhaps shell shocked and vacant- a robot of human being that seems to be floating from case to case. My main source of motivation for me to keep on truckin’ is that we (social workers) are needed more than ever at the moment. Secondly, when building relationships with the families and youth I serve, I’m also appeasing some selfish needs to satiate my own need for connection and confirmation that I’m not in struggle alone. In a world without gatherings, its pretty pitiful that I now count home visits, systems meetings, and investigation interviews as my “social time.” So with that being said, I’ve subscribed to a steady diet of toxic dysfunction without little reprieve.

And just like the pandemic “circuit breakers” we have all come to familiarize ourselves with, and perhaps loathe at moments, we too deserve a personal circuit breaker when it comes to addressing the psychological impact our work is having on us. More often than not, victims of trauma lack the words to express their grief and fear. Social workers recognize the need and are the first to respond. They are the ones who will speak hope into the hearts of the hurting. But in doing that, we too need to find the words and hope to address our own along the way.

I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody

-Lily Tomlin

So What is Secondary Trauma?

According to Rose Zimering, PhD , Suzy Bird Gulliver, PhD Mental health Workers and Social Workers hear tales of extreme human suffering and observe the emotions of fear, helplessness and horror registered by survivors on a consistent basis. Recent research demonstrates that these occupational duties may cause psychological symptoms in the practitioner who bears witness to the survivors’ account of trauma.

Primary posttraumatic stress disorder may be diagnosed in an individual who experienced, witnessed or was confronted with a traumatic event and responded with intense fear, helplessness or horror. Intentional traumas (e.g., combat, sexual assault, terrorism and mass violence), as well as unintentional traumas (e.g., natural disasters, accidents), may cause this pervasive psychiatric condition.

Secondary trauma is defined as indirect exposure to trauma through a firsthand account or narrative of a traumatic event. The vivid recounting of trauma by the survivor and the clinician’s subsequent cognitive or emotional representation of that event may result in a set of symptoms and reactions that parallel PTSD (e.g., re-experiencing, avoidance and hyperarousal). Secondary traumatization is also referred to as compassion fatigue (Figley, 1995) and vicarious traumatization (Pearlman and Saakvitne, 1995).

So What is Vicarious Trauma?


 Witnessing trauma (death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual
violence) at work can take an emotional toll. Healthcare providers are at increased risk because their jobs routinely
involve providing care for people who are vulnerable. They see or hear about traumatic events experienced by
others. Over time this exposure can have a negative impact.


 Factors influencing work-related Vicarious Trauma include:
o The nature of the work (repeated direct and indirect exposure to crisis situations), your working conditions,
training related to coping with exposure to trauma, and what supports are available to you in the workplace.
o You can be at more risk for developing vicarious trauma if there are significant stressors and losses in your
personal life (e.g. domestic violence, providing care for a loved one at home).
o Compassion fatigue (reduced empathy) and burnout (feeling exhausted due to chronic work-related stress)
can increase vulnerability to vicarious trauma
o Those in helping professions can feel isolated as family and friends might not want to hear about the
stressful situations they encounter at work, and do to confidentiality/ privacy considerations some things
cannot be discussed outside of work.


 Symptoms of vicarious trauma can include intrusive thoughts and imagery about those events, avoidance of things
related to the events, feeling discouraged about the world, anxiety (e.g. tension, restlessness, racing thoughts,
feelings of dread, elevated heart rate, difficulty sleeping), and changes to mood (sadness, fatigue, irritability,
hopelessness, withdrawal from family and friends, changes to appetite, loss of interest in activities), similar to what
people suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) experience.


 If it persists vicarious trauma can cause difficulties functioning at work and home, and evolve into mental and
physical health issues, relationship problems, increased absenteeism and attrition (helpers leaving the field).

Some ways to prevent and respond to vicarious trauma include:


Debrief with colleagues or a supervisor on a regular basis and after incidents at work


Routinely and proactively practice good self-care


Set realistic goals, expectations and boundaries for yourself


Have some quiet time — being in nature, writing in a journal, meditating


Recognize and appreciate the hard work you do


Get enough rest


Exercise often — even short walks are very helpful for coping with stress


Eat healthy and drink lots of water

Develop appropriate outlets for difficult emotions – talk with someone you trust, journal, exercise to
relieve frustration


Check how you are coping — ask others for their opinion on how they see you coping. This may help
provide some insight. (i.e.family member, friend)

Get more support if you find symptoms of vicarious trauma increase or persists

I am lighthouse rather than lifeboat. I do not rescue, but instead help others to find their way to shore, guiding them by my example.

-Modern affirmation

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.

PLease Like, Share, and Comment!

The Office: A Once Prehistoric Place where People Once Worked. My Ode to the Youth Assessment Team.

Last night I worked another extra shift at our Afterhours Unit. It’s the epicenter that is anything Child Intervention for all Southern Alberta. It’s a busy place that houses upwards to 10- 12 social workers at a time with rotating 12 hour shifts. I’m going to avoid getting into what it is that goes on there and go into what used to go on there, more specifically in the little hub that sat below it for many years. Covid- 19 would require our leadership to make the decision that in order to keep this essential epicenter healthy and operational, they would need that little hub downstairs to. That little Hub housed one of the most important Units (in my mind) that has ever graced the city of Calgary- The Youth Assessment Team, also commonly known as YAT. The pandemic would send us home packing, never to return back there as a unit again.

Now I started at YAT about 5 years ago, and I am still with YAT as an Assessor in the child Intervention capacity. I do both investigations under the Child, Youth, and Families Enhancement Act as well as Protection of Sexually Exploited Children’s Act. We are small yet mighty unit consisting of 3 PSECA workers and then my partner in crime, AKA. Work Husband AKA. Thrilla from Manila, AKA someone I call friend. Supervisors come and go as its not an easy unit to manage, and perhaps considered a stepping stone in the leadership world. But thankfully we have had our fearless Youth Practice Specialist hold it down and weather the storm with us no matter what. Which leads me to how extremely special and rare it is to have group of people that genuinely love working with teens in a social work capacity. In a pool of thousands, finding willing social workers to become a part of this unit can be challenging, as it takes a whole other skill set and patience that not many are brave enough to take on. Social Work can already be a thankless and undervalued career choice, so it is no wonder why many opt to not take on the added strain. But this is why YAT is so special, because while we are all so very different, we carry the same passion, love and commitment to our regions youth which serves as the connection necessary to keep us and city’s most vulnerable youth afloat as best we can. And while we are mandated and guided by the Acts in which we serve, it does not deter us or stifle our creativity in finding new authentic ways to make progress to form trusting relationships within the community we serve.

Being back in that unit is strange however as the carefully decorated boards that once held our profile pictures, achievements and birthday calendars are still there, yet the history of our presence has long been disposed of. Outsiders fill our seats, many who are new and unaware of who once occupied this space. They look at me as if I was the new face to these walls. In my mind I’m thinking, “No Honey, these Streets Belong to YAT, and that’s a Fact you Jive Ass Turkey.”

And as my shift carried on I’d reflect on my years here as my vision would walk me through the seemingly hardened memory lane streets.

There sat the big circle meeting table at the back that held 100’s of family meetings whereby tears were cried in joy and sadness. Many potlucks were eaten here too where we would share our appreciation and gratitude for the community partners we worked so closely with. This table would also serve as the starting point for files we would tirelessly work with, sometimes for months on end to either preserve or protect. Many times they would return to this very table; many didn’t make it back for sadder reasons. This would also be the table where the author would experience her first date with death after being exposed to a drug chemical bolus. Only after to find out she over reacted in an altered state and would be okay after a a few hours. This would serve as an example cross regionally why we don’t handle drug paraphernalia.

Your Welcome.

Sometimes our doors would be decorated for us or a new paper craft delighted our small humble offices. It was in this little hub that we’d set up an entire Christmas tree intrusively close to the desk of one of our co-workers who hated Christmas. Sometimes there would be tokens of gratitude left on our desks, giving us that pick me up that we so badly needed. Office doors sometimes needed to be closed so we could have our moment to fall apart and put ourselves back together. Other times they worked to keep the music played from becoming contagious and provoking a whole out dance party. . Other times they would close behind us because we had made a mistake, only to open again so we could give things another shot at doing better. The hallway that our doors opened up to, joined us together, also became a catwalk for us to WERRRRK our new Barrier Kits we had labelled with designer tags when the Opiate Crisis hit.

Summer months we’d all be told to get up from our chairs and take a walk to the community market across the street. We’d all come back with goodies to share and manage for brief moments to not talk about “our kids,” and talk about our lives. Birthdays were always a cause for celebration, and cake would be had most definitely! This is where I’d master the art of taking breaks in my day to catch some air and take in the serenity of the home gardens in the area brought me. This is where we’d stroll into Kensington and enjoy my first Free Stampede Pancake Breakfast.

Friday lunches were also a favorite, yet another time we could all sit around and of course “talk about our kids.” You see, these “kids” became a labor of love to us, and the more fierce, defiant and unruly they were, the more we wanted them to succeed. As a team, we understood this madness- we admired their resilience within the changes they encountered. As the years would march on we too endured change, but also a sense of pride.

So its no surprise the office I used to once complain about where on any given day the elevator broke down with someone in it, or a mouse trap had caught a new victim, that I would take our space back in a heart beat. The “Love Fern” that sits on the desk at the end of the hall; which just so happens to be the only window accessing sunlight- its still there. Last night I cleaned up its dead leaves, gave it a little water, and sent a picture to our team. I was so pleased to sit in that office for the 12 hours I worked, even though I was alone and the familiar smiles and laughs were no longer there. I felt at home for the first time since the pandemic started and hopeful that maybe in another year we’d make a home somewhere else. Its the one thing that “our kids” taught us- That change can nurture resilience, and no matter what environment we are in-there is always the opportunity for important work to be done.

Working From Home: Why Can’t I just Love it?

Cookiebitch: I WORK BETTER PANTLESS

I believe that everyone is having a variation of experiences with regards to the new norm of working at home. Our jobs and careers are all so different and require different elements of support, equipment, and the tools to continue staying efficient while no longer having a standard office set-up.

I know for myself since the pandemic hit I went from being excited about setting up a home office whereby I believed I would work diligently at my newly purchased white and gray marbled desk. Admittedly I created a beautiful and peaceful space to work in, however the aesthetic aspect of it wasn’t enough to keep me in my guest room slash/office. We were urged to bring home our work stations in order to emulate some sense of normalcy while at home working, but the concept quickly lost its magic. I hated working in a room that I had no attachment too and perpetuated a deeper sense of isolation. Thankfully by that time Spring was upon us and I moved my office onto my patio where I was able to feel more comfortable and productive. I flourished from the Vitamin D and ability to work at a much slower pace than I had in the 15 years I’ve spent working as a social worker in child welfare. I also knew that it was going to be vital to collect my strength, get my rest, and prepare for the storm ahead. What I didn’t expect was catching Covid-19 which would derail my plan to stay on top of the game, and ultimately put me on my ass for months. You can read about my experience HERE.

And as the months went on I would continue to try and remind myself there once was a time we’d get excited about our requested days to work from home in our pajamas. In the world of social work we call these “Paper Days” and in order to get a paper day you’d have to be extremely overdue on your paperwork and jump through multiple hoops to justify why you needed to be away from the office. These days were great and I just loved them! So you can imagine the internal conflict and confusion I’m feeling now that I live in a constant hiatus of paper day’s and somehow I’m miserable? But it looks like I’m not alone.

But like many things you never really realize what you have until its gone. I truly believe that in job roles within the human services sector and the health care system we are nothing without our team. When we are together there is shared sense of responsibility as we hardly ever work in isolation but rather engage in a consistent flow of dialogue that impacts how we practice. The influences we have on one another is invaluable learning that allows us to serve the public in positive and creative ways. Not only in regards to how we approach and proceed with the important work we do, but how our morale and personal emotional wellness can dictate better outcomes for the communities we serve. Just today we met via videoconference and were collectively brought to tears by the bravery and strength that has been demonstrated among us. Each person simultaneously dealing with their own personal anxiety, worries and challenges while serving the city’s most vulnerable youth and families who’s issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Yet continue to smile and encourage each other in small ways that validates we are in it together.

I feel like their bravery inspires me to pull up my socks and adapt to the new circumstances whereby I’m able to weave the silver linings into a broader concept of appreciation. I should feel so lucky that my ability to work from home is not complicated with daycare/school disruptions and closures. I don’t have the burden of home schooling children with my depressing remedial math skills, or worry about them interrupting my zoom calls. The worst I deal with is maybe my mothers oblivious decision to start vacuuming at the same moment I’m giving a presentation. Try coming back from that distraction unscathed.

So like I said, I often need to take a tally of the good things that exist because I’m working from home more than I could have ever imagined. And as a result there have been many unforseen blessings along the way.

For me its things like being able to spend my days with my new puppy who requires a lot of attention and training. If we were working in office she would be essentially crated all day, and that’s no life for a pup. In addition to this, I feel like I have my very own therapy dog available to me throughout the day to pet, hug and play with when I need a mental break. I love looking up from my computer to catch her clumsily playing about-it brings a genuine smile to my face every time.

Additionally, its given me time with my mother who is aging and has been isolated at home for the bulk of the last 8 months as a result of the pandemic. And if you catch me on a day she isn’t driving me bananas I’d gladly admit I appreciate this precious time with her.

I’m cooking more, which means I’m eating more, but nonetheless I’m cooking in a kitchen. Being at home allows me to spend the time to prepare meals and eat out less. I’m falling in love with creating great and delicious meals whereby cooking had lost its appeal for awhile.

Practicing self discipline is another element to working from home that I have benefited from. I imagine many business owners can attest to setting their own work schedules, and can comprehend what happens if they slack off. I for one have learned that everyday needs to be guided by a strict task list of to-do’s that I have laid out in my calendar as a reminder to abide by. straying from this can leave me feeling nervous or ill prepared in the case things become too out of control and I don’t have the familiar supports available to guide me through the snowball effect that occurs often in my field.

In Addition to this, I’ve been able to predict my days better whereby I can schedule breaks in my day to actually take a break. Prior to working from home I’d take my breaks at my desk, eating my lunch and still work at the same time. Now I’ll schedule it into my day and take my pup to the dog park, go for a bike ride along the river, go for a walk, attend the gym or take in a massage. These things would have been unheard of before.

Lastly my team has continued to engage in new habits to stay connected and supportive with one another. I’ve never been a fan of group chats but I make an exception with this group chat. It has been fun to bounce our sarcasm back and forth as a reminder that we are all in this together and all equally at the mercy of a pandemic that is effecting us in varying ways. What’s been unique has been the shift from solely professional relationships into an extended family we can count on.

The benefits of working from home obviously go beyond my personal accounts, and are inspiring companies to consider it for the long haul.

In an article I read titled “The Benefits of Working From Home: Why The Pandemic Isn’t the Only Reason to Work Remotely,” touch on a few other benefits. They mention Less Commute Stress, A Happier, Healthier Work Life, and Fiscal Savings.

According to FlexJobs’ 2019 Annual Survey, 78 per cent of people said having a flexible job would allow them to be healthier (eat better, exercise more, and so on) and 86 per cent said they’d be less stressed.

“You get benefits from increased physical activity, mental-health benefits from reduced stress, increased family time,” says Trevor Hancock, retired professor and senior scholar, school of public health and social policy, University of Victoria. “Once we stop running like hamsters on a wheel, [we can] look around and almost literally smell the roses.”

In addition, articles like the one in the New York Times, surveyed that the average office worker revealed they used to spend nearly an hour every single day commuting to and from their jobs — that’s five hours each week office workers could get back by working from home. And with less commuting there is less carbon footprint. According to Global Workplace Analytics, part-time remote work in the U.S. could slow carbon emissions by more than 51 million metric tonnes annually. Carbon footprints also diminish with reduced office energy, less business travel, and paper usage, it says. Meanwhile—with idling traffic accounting for three billion gallons of fuel and 26 million extra tons of emitted greenhouse gases—a one per cent reduction in vehicles on the roads could yield a three-fold decrease in congestion. Even roadway construction from wear and tear could be reduced by 112 billion miles a year, it says.

I enourage you to go forward and reflect on some of the benefits you had not anticipated on since working from home. Share them with me in the comment section below.

Remember to Like, Share and Comment! Don’t be a stranger !

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?