Releasing stress to prevent burnout and empathy fatigue:
I recently facilitated a one hour introduction workshop to all the staff at Early Connections on how each of us can get to know our nervous systems and how best to nourish our core Self using body-based CFT (Compassion Focussed Therapy) strategies to move out of threat/stress/burnout mode and into drive and soothe mode throughout the day at home and at work. We focused on simple short stress-release strategies for Self, for relationships and for work (including being able to share strategies with clients and their families).
As a Mum and therapist, in various workplaces, I have experienced stress and burnout and this model of the nervous system and how to release stress daily has been super useful for me, my family and for my clients. When we build up too much of a threat response in our lives the best antidotes to the adrenaline and cortisol are to increase drive and soothe strategies to increase the dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.
As you read through this how do you respond to each of the 5 questions in italics about the three emotion systems?
We explored the Three Emotion Systems of Regulation:
Threat: We discussed the mind-body connection: thoughts, feelings, sensations, actions, (internal and external triggers), different parts, and the fight, flight, freeze, fawn and flop response in response to adrenaline and cortisol flooding our bodies. We discussed the percentage we are in threat mode, our triggers (internal and external) and our responses (fight, flight, freeze, fawn, flop?).
1.What percentage are you in THREAT mode, what are your triggers and how do you frequently react when stressed and feeling under threat?
Drive: We discussed the mind-body connection: thoughts, feelings, sensations, actions, and the strategies to change into drive state (dopamine). We discussed the percentage we are in drive mode, what puts us there, how do we give ourselves permission to be in drive mode at work / with family / by ourselves.
2. What percentage are you in DRIVE mode, what are your strategies to change into drive mode and how do you give yourself permission to do those strategies daily?
Soothe: We discussed the mind-body connection: thoughts, feelings, sensations, actions, and the strategies to change into a soothe state (oxytocin and serotonin). We discussed the percentage we are in soothe mode, what puts us there, how do we give ourselves permission to be in soothe mode at work / with family / by ourselves.
3.What percentage are you in SOOTHE mode, what are your strategies to change into soothe mode and how do you give yourself permission to do those strategies daily?
To finish: We visualised our ideal day: highlighting strategies for self, family & work, what weare going to do more of, giving ourselves permission to be in drive and soothe mode more.
4. What would your ideal day look like in 5 years time? What drive and soothe strategies will you include in your day to reduce your threat /stress levels?
Conclusions: It takes time to build new habits, we identified some of the thoughts/feelings that can be inner obstacles to making a change or to giving ourselves permission to be in drive and soothe and we discussed how counselling & coaching are great for exploring the obstacles for change. We also explored that our workplaces and families have their own group nervous system and how to being in the drive and soothe strategies for a group at work or home to change the group nervous system.
5. What obstacles might there be (internal or external) to you introducing more drive and soothe strategies in your day? Is it worth considering counselling or coaching to make healthy changes?