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Self-Awareness


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Self Awareness

 

Self Awareness is one of those ‘things’ that seems pretty simple, but in practice is actually somewhat difficult. Some people like Gary Vaynerchuk (he’s just more vocal about it) seem to have an innate ability to sense where they are internally and know how to steer themselves without hesitation. Most of us have difficulty staying focused on a task never mind having a refined internal compass that points true north!

I’ve been a respiratory therapist for 7 years. Throughout that time I’ve been confronted with challenges that have pushed me into some very interesting places. I remember the first time I realized the importance of what I was about to do. I called my mom, I was 19 at the time, and remember saying “Mom! I’m only 19 and I’m about to have someone’s life in my hands! They could be my grandmother!!”

It was pretty intense as a young man to have that epiphany. Yet that would not be possible without Self Awareness. Think of it as your internal navigation of thoughts and feelings that highlight certain pathways in your brain.

Example: You are walking along day dreaming, and a friend comes up to you. They’re the infamous ‘close talker’. It’s a hot day and their breath smells as they talk 2 inches from your face. Your internal navigation aka Self Awareness is sending off alarms to back away or end this conversation!! You may or may not be aware this is how you are feeling or acting but you wiggle your way away from close talker friend and continue your day.

Cultivation.

That’s easy! Be aware! Of yourself!!

See, that wasn’t so hard was it?

… bad joke… sorry.

Here it is, no steps just a process. Think of it as a daily practice that you can do in a few minutes at your desk, practice with your kids, sit on a bench in a park. Or do it when you wake up. I’ll be honest, it’s somewhat based on a meditative process called mindfulness. This was first brought to light by Buddha, a long long time ago. #Starwarsreference!

This was then taught to the healthcare community by Jon Kabat-Zinn. His background is too long to communicate here (follow the link) but basically self awareness is based on being mindful and non-judgemental about the way you feel in a given moment. You pay specific attention, on purpose, in the present moment to your thoughts and feelings.

Ok I’ve beaten that horse.

Interpretation.

Noticing how you feel is one thing. Interpreting those thoughts and feelings is another, and that, in my opinion, is where most of the practice comes in. If you feel sad and you’re doing the self awareness thingy you may not know why you are feeling sad. For me if I have a blue feeling I might need vitamin D, I might need sleep, I might need to exercise or get off the computer, I may just need to talk about something.

You get it? Just because you recognize the thought/feeling doesn’t mean you know how to deal with it.

Practice.

This is where you’ll start to shine. When you start to practice being mindful aka Self Aware you can then practice understanding the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. A good way to clarify is by writing them down or maybe trying something that you think will help. Example, me being sad I take a vitamin D supplement. If I feel better I know what to associate that particular sad feeling with.

The best way to continue to grow is by continuing to practice, and dive into the thoughts and feelings. Do some research behind your brain, be curious about what your body is doing. Be aware of the situations that trigger the thoughts and feelings you are inspecting. That’s another level of awareness but very worth the pursuit.

Frustration.

If you aren’t IMMEDIATELY understanding and noticing your thoughts, feelings, and what’s triggering and how to fix them situation don’t be frustrated! Some people are more sensitive to this process than others.

It DOES NOT!! I repeat DOES NOT mean you can’t do it. You just have to work harder and find others to help you understand the process that’s best for you.

 

As always I’ll be here!

Your Guide – Jay

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Got Leadership?

Leadership

Leadership is an important part of our lives yet how often is it spoken about among people on the street? We almost never mention it in health care unless we talk about a leader in a specific line of care, not someone that leads per their example.

People all have the potential to be a leader. Whether they decide to develop it or not is a whole other article. There are actually hundreds, if not thousands, of books out there for people to learn from. Do they do it? NO!! Why?

Lead Your Own Path, Be Your Own Leader

What is the most important thing about night shift?

Sex? (got your attention didn’t it)

I believe the most important aspect of night shift is cooperation within the team, and communication from the team to the rest of the shift, aka day shift. In a way this is a sense of leadership. You must take the initiative to develop the skills to work mostly by yourself, but communicate effectively enough so people know what you are doing and when/if you need help. Inner strength is a huge part of this.

When I first started out I wanted to be a great Respiratory Therapist. After a while I had decided to become a doctor, so I got a new job and off I went. I basically saw the doctors as the unofficial leaders within the hospital. Sometimes this is the case, other times it’s not.  I realized after seeing how invested a doctor had to become it wasn’t what I really wanted. I drifted for a while and eventually realized I was simply getting through work for the paycheck. I didn’t care about anything really. Yet a glimmer of hope came to me one day. I realized I enjoyed working with people. Yet what was the biggest skill I needed to effectively work within a team and with people/ their families?

So why else do we work? We all know that money is the main objective. But we wouldn’t have gotten into the medical field just because it was a job. We aren’t cleaning poo and suctioning copious amounts of goo out of people’s lungs ‘just to do it’.

I believe that we get a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment and happiness out of our jobs. I realize it’s not always so. I know we get abused on a daily basis by patients, supervisors and each other. It’s a high stress environment ready to pop.

BUT..

Life is tough and if we are doing something that grinds us down 100% of the time why the hell are we doing it? Jim Carrey once said that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love. Watch his commencement speech here.

Instead of asking why you do something and focusing on the issue of making money. Why not focus on doing your best, giving your job 100% effort. I challenge you to do that for a week. When you feel like sitting down to be lazy instead of researching a disease or surgery, do the research. Instead of going to ask questions that seem repetitive ask instead for guidance and to learn how to trouble shoot the issue.

Look first to learn and dig in. If you want this chosen path then educate yourself every day, exercise the muscle that is your brain. Just because others are sitting and watching a show or reading a fictional book, that doesn’t mean you have to do that too.

Have the guts to think and act differently, and you’ll see a change in your life and the life of others.

I Dare You.

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Journey: A Love Story

Journey: A Love Story

Respiratory Therapy

I remember the day I heard the two words that have shaped my life thus far. “Respiratory Therapist” is what my teacher said.

I immediately raised my hand and asked what that was. I had never heard of them on TV, no one in town had mentioned them, and I had never been sick enough to possibly see one myself. They were like a shining unicorn in the night, only glimpsed briefly through the trees.

As my teacher, her name escapes me now, explained what the profession was all about I immediately knew what I wanted to do. I started pulling books on the subject, got into a shadowing program, and shadowed a local therapist. The impact that has had on my life was fairly significant. I’ve kept that experience in my mind through the 10+ years since.

Last night I was speaking with someone who has great respect for Respiratory Therapists. He reminded me that an RT is more than just a job. It’s a person who cares and creates a system around their patient. They are coordinators of care, sideline leaders, and professionals who can come into a situation and be a key player in controlling a situation. We have no fear and little patience for negligent care. A Respiratory Therapist end’s up being more than just a care giver. Since we are part of  a team we start to do things that are more general and less specific. Our skills learned in school give us the ability to understand more than just our scope of practice.

We may only take care of people with respiratory issues to start, but at the end of the day everyone in a hospital is safer because a therapist walks those halls. It took me from the time I was in high school until now to realize that even though our pay is small, hours are long, and work is sometimes difficult we are a profession and people who command great respect within the medical community.

Currently I work on this website, and am helping others create income through other means. How am I able to do this? Through a realization that I’m a Respiratory Therapist. I’m multi talented, my skills are sharp enough so I am able to accomplish many things. I lead through my calm demeanor and quick response. Being an RT has taught me that everyone matters, not just the people I’m assigned to. I may have a specific job, but my profession tells me to protect everyone.

If you’re a Respiratory Therapist thank you. Know an RT? Take time to get to know them better. If you’re thinking about becoming an RT… Go for it. We need more strong people in our profession. People who aren’t afraid to take a chance and lead through their profession. To realize that our scope is small, but responsibility tremendous.

Take the time to commit. Even if it’s not to Respiratory Therapy, commit to something. Make it specific the more you learn about it. People don’t pay you because you’re a “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”. They pay you because you have a specific set of skills for a specific job, profession, contract etc.

Commit, be specific, and Love your RT.

NightShift Guide – Jay

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Purging

Life Will Find a Way

This past week has been filled with life and death. Reflection and contemplation. I wanted to bring this to people’s attention, because no matter how bad you may feel, no matter how horrible things seem to be there will always be a greater or equal good that comes into your life.

I believe those words, many do not.

Why do I believe in them? I have personally experienced hardships that have pushed me. Have I been homeless, starving, shivering cold and sick in a hospital bed? No I have not, but I do not believe you have to experience the worst of the worst to understand what needs to be done to get through the difficult time.

I believe in these words because on the flip side of every bad time, difficult situation, or hardship I’ve personally experienced great things. This past week I have watched several people pass from this world. I’m in health care, and understand this is a natural part of life. I however experience this is a different capacity because of what I do. Yet I am always relieved for my patients when they are allowed to pass onto their next life.

Yes I believe in life after death.

I know of over 10 people in my sphere of influence that have passed this week. Although this is sad, upsetting and can be taken as an excuse to stop everything and take the time to mourn. I am already thinking about how I can honor them, use their story to help others, and make myself better so I can serve others in a greater capacity.

I hope you take the time this weekend to reflect on your life. What we have now, in this moment is 100% temporary and will be gone one day. Love it, cherish it, be grateful for it, and above all else give your 100% every day to everyone you meet.

I hope that one day you look back with no regrets.

If you feel, after your reflections, that you have some regrets in your life. Forgive yourself and take note to draw a line in the sand. Live today and every day hence with love, gratitude, and no regrets. Open your heart, open your mind, and give what is lacking in your life.

It’s my deepest wish that you achieve what you set out to do, and that your life is full of love and happiness. This is mostly an inside job so stop looking to TV and entertainment to find it. Look inside and create it for yourself.

Good luck this week. I’m sending love to all.

Your NightShift Guide – Jay

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NSG Life: Meditation for Night Shift

Meditation Motivation

Why do I come back to meditation? Because I can’t see how I could go more than two days without meditating. I feel calm, cool, collect, clean and focused when I meditate.

I work nights and all of those things; calm, cool, collect and clean, are vital to maintain. Having a sharp mind can help work past the wall, a time where your body shuts down and want’s you to sleep. I have days where I physically hurt because I’m tired, but because I meditate they are few and far between.

When. I meditate before work. When I really get into it I like to do it twice a day. Time wise this is usually around 8:15 in the morning and 4pm in the afternoon (before sleep and after I wake up).

Why: It helps me process complex feelings, ideas, and de-stresses my body. My mind becomes calm, even with racing thoughts, my emotions are level, the rest it provides gives me an extra boost that sleep can’t.

How: I started a few years ago doing this in one of my college courses. I have a slight advantage because I got a free crash course in meditation. I’m not perfect but I do know some basics. Sit in an upright posture with legs crossed or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Hands are relaxed either palm up on your thighs or in a comfortable position. Breathing can be used to keep your focus. Either you conciously take inhales and exhales, or you sit and simply allow yourself to feel the sensation of your breath without any judgement. Simply allow it to go in and out with no control. When your mind wanders just gently bring your focus back to your breath. Eyes should be closed. I sometimes listen to different types of music or YouTube videos. You can find my favorites here.

Myths:

Falling asleep is bad. No, sometimes it just means you need more sleep, so get to it!

I keep drifting into random thoughts. I’m terrible at meditating. Nope! You just need to practice. Your brain will always pull you into something if you don’t have control over it. Practice will bring better results so don’t give up. You are literally training your brain to focus by bringing it back to focus on something.

I can’t meditate for hours or even minutes. It’s a useless practice. Wrong again! Some people have a short attention span. They have been programmed to be in constant motion. With practice, starting with one or two minutes and building up, you can build up your ‘endurance’ to get into a calm and relaxed state, practice will improve results!

I don’t have time. Time is in the eye of the beholder. Like most other things it is based off of our current perception of the world. Ever hear the saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’? Same concept. Start tracking your time to become more aware of how much you might be wasting.

Pointers for Night Shift: At the start you’ll be tired and may fall asleep. It’s OK, keep practicing. If you’re afraid of falling asleep and not waking up, you can set a gentle alarm just in case. If you are running low on time, don’t freak out. Sit and take deep breaths, slowing down each breath. Doing this for a minute to 5 minutes will calm you down, focus you and give you a sharper edge. That’s the point isn’t it? You can also do this while at work. I know it helps me through some challenging situations. Our breathing is partially under our control for a reason. It can literally change your physical being in moments if you let it.

I hope you enjoyed reading, feel free to ask me a bit more if you are curious!

Your NightShift Guide -Jay

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