Transition Rituals: 6 Ways To Help You Chase Away That Creepy Clown

Have you ever had a hard time leaving work at work? Have you ever given all the emotional juice you have to your job and you finally get home only to have work thoughts creep back into your consciousness? It can be a lot like dealing with that creepy clown with the red balloon from IT. You’re having a nice supper with your family and you go to the fridge and the creepy clown is sitting next to the broccoli ready to hand you a red balloon full of troubling thoughts about work. You load things in the dish washer and there he is again with another balloon you don’t need.

Later when you go for a walk, you leave the house and right next to the mailbox you see the creepy clown again. All of a sudden your thoughts go back to your day and all its unfinished business. You try like crazy to ignore the clown but he keeps coming back again and again. How do we fix this? How do we separate our challenging work from our precious time at home? Is there some magic technique to help us shut off the endless stream of work related thoughts that can pollute our time off?

I was running my workshop The Wellness Solution: Help Yourself Help The World for a group of caring professions and we were collaborating on ways of helping ourselves deal with stress and burnout. I asked “What specific challenges do you face?” The stakes were high for these highly skilled pros. They work in a beautiful but isolated community, their caseloads are heavy and burnout was starting to take its toll.

Somebody said “I have a hard time leaving work at work! I take all of these worries about my clients home with me!” I asked the group if this was a common problem and there were nods all around.

The room came alive and we immediately collaborated on solutions. One person said “After

a tough day I gather up all the files I’ve worked on, stick them in my filing cabinet and lock them up.” Somebody else offered, “I drive home by the lake and let myself think about work until I get to the end of the road and then I’m done!”

Somebody else said “I go for a really fast walk and when I get to a certain point, I act like I’m dropping all of my work troubles out on the road.” Another one was “I put all my papers away and then say goodbye to my plants, turn off the lights and I’m done!” What useful tool had we stumbled upon? Transition rituals! Transition rituals provide a definite end to our day and let us know that it’s OK to leave our concerns behind.  We are creatures of habit after all and our brains like nothing better than following a pattern. So by using our transition ritual on a regular basis we get better at it. Our psyches embrace the idea that we have ended one part of our day and begun another. By using this technique and doing something after work as simple as going for a walk or driving down a certain road; we are literally training our brains to relax and to switch gears from one way of being to another. This can help us leave work at work so we can reduce our stress and chase away that evil creepy clown.

Here are some transition rituals that we came up with that day.

1: Go for a brisk walk after work.

2: Go to the gym and do a brief workout.

3: Have a specific way of leaving the office “Turnout the lights and say goodbye to the plants”

4: Say out loud, “I’m done playing in this sandbox. This can all wait until tomorrow”.

5: Say out loud “This is yours, not mine.”

6: Take a specific route home, allow yourself to think about work until you get to a certain point, then stop.

We all know that being in the caring professions takes a lot of skill, empathy and emotional juice. All of that giving can wear out our bodies and psyches. Transition rituals can be a useful tool to help keep the creepy clown away so we can recharge our batteries and give ourselves a chance to serve not just our clients but ourselves as well.

How do you deal with compassion fatigue?

Recently I presented The Wellness Solution:Help Yourself Help The World to a group of cardiovascular pharmacists at the 20th Annual Contemporary Therapeutic Issues in Cardiovascular Disease Conference.

We tapped into the “wisdom in the room” to have an amazing collaborative discussion on how we can deal with compassion fatigue. compassion fatigue

To recap, compassion fatigue can affect virtually everyone in the caring professions. It’s only natural that when we use our “muscles” of compassion and empathy every day that they can get worn out. The implications of having compassion fatigue on a regular basis aren’t great. It can lead to burnout and even a decline in the effectiveness of our service. So how do we counteract this? How do we help ourselves stay engaged in our work and help the people we serve in a way that is actually sustainable? In short, how can we keep caring?

We threw this open to the group and here are a few of the answers that we came up with.

1: Go for a quick walk. Sometimes when we are a bit overwhelmed by our practice, getting even a few minutes of fresh air and physical activity can act as a reset for us in the middle of our day.

2: Have a “Burnout Buddy”.  Find a colleague in a similar situation to talk to on a regular basis. Set a time with them to support each other in a non-judgmental way. Because you are probably facing similar circumstances, you and your partner will be able to relate and realize that you are not the only ones facing this issue. As well, you get to drink coffee, which is always a bonus.

3: Pretend your client is a member of your family. I thought this one was terrific. Sometimes if we are dealing with someone who is particularly challenging and we lose our patience (pun intended), it can be a great idea to pretend that the person in front of us is actually a family member. If we think of our family member being a bit confused or needing a bit more help it can really help us find more compassion for the interaction. Heck, if your Mom or Uncle needed a bit of extra help, you’d give it to them in a heartbeat wouldn’t you? Of course you would. However, make sure you don’t slip up and refer to them as “Mom” or “Uncle Reggie” as that might get a little weird.

4: Get a Massage! Ok, this wasn’t one of the suggestions for dealing with compassion fatigue but I am all for getting a good dose of RMT on a regular basis. Published evidence shows that getting a massage can make an immediate and positive impact on our health and level of happiness. I’m guessing you have some unused health benefits just sitting there gathering dust. Time to make use of them and schedule a massage!

A few more are:

5: Meditate, centre yourself or do some deep breathing.

6: Recognize that you’re not seeing your patient at their best.

7: Think “I could find myself in the same situation as a patient”.

One of the great things about all of these strategies is that they are accessible to you right now. Virtually any one of us can go for a brisk walk at lunch and clear our head, or have a chat with a colleague about how this job is pretty tough sometimes. Heck, you can even go completely crazy and go for a massage! Once again, it was an absolute pleasure to meet all of you and to hear your great stories during “You Can Own The Room: Lose the Fear and Present like a Pro.”

All the best!

Rob

Are you addicted to Trump? 3 Signs you might be, and what to do about it.

While drinking my  cup of coffee in the morning and scanning the headlines for the latest outrage, I had an uncomfortable thought. Was I addicted to Trump? The answer is “Yes”. You might be as well. Here are the warning signs.

level of stupid obi wan

1: You read about him everyday. Obsessively. You might click on the news to see what crazy thing he has done or tweeted in the last ten minutes.

2: You start a lot of conversations with “Do you believe the crazy sh*t Trump just did?”

3: You wake up in the middle of the night after a nightmare where Trump actually became President of The United States. Then you realize he did and you cry/drink a lot.

We are convinced that the world needs us to do this and that we are helping the situation by being in a constant state of worry. The world doesn’t need us to do this. In fact, its very counterproductive.

“But Rob,” I hear you yelling, “Its my responsibility to be informed! I must be a world citizen who knows what’s going on and then I can participate in a meaningful way.”

That’s what I thought until I noticed something. I was checking google news virtually every hour and ignoring my own life. Trump is a master at creating news and attracting attention. He’s like a snotty, spoiled rich kid who goes to a friends birthday party and doesn’t care if he wrecks the whole thing as long as he is the one everybody is looking at. And I have to admit, it is incredibly entertaining-too entertaining.

He makes us ask questions like “Is he actually serious about the travel ban? Does he really think he was bugged, or is it just some master plan to draw attention away from his relationship with Russia? Is he really a bit unhinged or is he a strange dark genius?

viking 2

Imagine this guy with hurt feelings and a bunch of caffeine.

I have a question for you though: What has happened to your own story during this time? Are you pursuing  your own hopes and dreams? Have they been advanced or helped by your attention to this political confusion? Unless you have a stake in Breitbart News (and I truly hope you don’t) then probably the answer is a resounding “No!” .

You may have found ( I certainly have) that “Trumping” has moved past being a fascinating distraction to being a drain on your creativity and productivity. Its hard to stay focused on our own story and contributions to the world when a man with control over the most mechanized military in history is  flailing around like an angry viking hopped up on  vodka and Redbull.

This level of crazy is captivating and terrifying to watch. It is nothing short of addictive.

However there  is very little we can do to change it. Heck, I’m sitting here safely in Canada and wondering what I can do to make it better and the answer is “Nothing”. I can make my voice heard and that’s it. I’m not saying we should give up on the world, say screw it and go have a nice dinner with wine (actually that sounds perfect) but maybe our precious attention is better spent elsewhere.

Want to make the world a better place? Here’s a few ideas off the top of my head.

You could…

1: Hang out with friends and make them laugh.  kiva

2: Make a meal for someone you care about.

3: Lend money to brave 3rd world entrepreneurs on Kiva.

4: Take a moment and do ANYTHING positive except feed the crazy train that is the Trump presidency.

Someone much wiser than me said “Be the Change you wish to see in the world” (It was Gandhi) . Well, I think right now the world needs many of us to step up and really demonstrate who we are by not just saying “Oh this is terrible” but by creating more of what we want by showing generosity, kindness, integrity and dare I say it? A bit of LOVE.

Rock on Everybody.

Hawke out.

peace 2

My Adventures in Madonna’s Bedroom

I was sleeping in Madonna’s room. For real. No Kidding. How was it that I, A Led Zeppelin fanatic was sleeping on a bed that Madonna had slept in? Good question.

Recently, my wife and I had a trip to Spain. We are pretty much in love with the place. We love its people, the depth of its history, the architecture, the food, the wine, the ridiculous mountain roads and the food. (I may have mentioned food twice but really it is that good.) One of our favourite places in the whole country is a small town in the south called Ronda. Hemingway was crazy about Ronda as well. In fact he called it the most romantic town in all of Spain (and I would agree). Its built on mountains that drop off on sheer cliffs to the valley below. Sound dramatic? Well, it is. Here have a look at this pic…ronda-spain

See what I mean? Beautiful right? Well all off this beauty did now go unnoticed when Madonna (or somebody who worked for her) was picking locations for the video for Take A Bow.

Now, I am not a huge Madonna fan. I am a fan of Jimmy Page of Zeppelin. I’m not even sure that its legal to be a fan of both of these artists at the same time, However my wife LOVES Madonna and she arranged for us to stay in the room that Madonna stayed in when she was in Ronda called, funny enough The Madonna Room.

It was awesome. There was a small terrace, fancy wooden windows, a view of the countryside, lots of wood,  and a surprising amount of S&M gear (just kidding). It was really cool and even for a non fan like myself, I couldn’t help but be a bit star struck by the fact that we were staying in the room where someone that famous had been. It was a bit weird. It was also remarkably human. You see there was all this regular stuff in the room as well, like a bed, with a mattress and dare I say it? A toilet. with a chain that you pull. madonna-room

You see after a few hours of being impressed with the fame of the person who had stayed there, it struck me that it was a room (albeit a REALLY nice one) that had all the human stuff in it that all of us need. Whoever had stayed in the room be they famous or not, had all the same basic human needs that we all have. We all need to sleep, eat, wake up, go to the bathroom and get the guck out of our eyes in the morning, regardless of who we are.

No matter how much we try to fool ourselves we are all walking around looking for the same things in different ways, we’re looking for warmth, connection, fun, security, a way to contribute, appreciation and a good deal on a archery equipment (ok maybe not that). The details and circumstances of our lives might be radically different, but our nature as humans, I think is remarkably the same. So it is with our quest for wellness. No matter our different the circumstances and details of our lives, we are all trying to get through this day and the next with a bit of dignity and even love.

 

If you want to stay in Madonna’s room. you can! Its in one of the best and funkiest places I’ve ever stayed.

The Hotel Enfrente in Ronda Spain. Its a funky, bohemian boutique hotel in one of the best places in Spain. I completely recommend it.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, have a good one. And now…Here’s Madonna…

 

“You’re a better person than I am!”

When I said this to a participant at The Canadian MPN Network Conference, it got a huge laugh. One of the great aphorisms of comedy is “Its funny ’cause its true!”

mpn-network

In this case, the lady I was speaking to was telling me that as a result of her being sick, she said she felt more empathy for people. She could understand others’ feelings more and she could cut other people more slack. Isn’t that fascinating?  You would think that after a tough time, a lot of people would become bitter or resentful.

Often we have a chunk of adversity in our lives and somehow we manage to keep on keeping on, but after getting through the stress and navigating our way through a very difficult time often we are different. You could even say we are transformed. Some of us develop more empathy, others of us (like myself) get unreasonably pissed off for a while and pray that someone will steal candy from a baby on our street so we can start a round of fisticuffs. (After a while this anger calmed down into a state of assertiveness. I am really glad because fisticuffs are inconvenient.)

fisticuffs

But what I have found after working with healthcare professionals and people going through life altering diseases is that our most arduous experiences change us.

One of my favourite questions to ask during a keynote is “In the experience of your journey with cancer (or another issue) what learnings or insights have you made?” People always have an answer. Nobody ever says “I feel exactly the same!” I have heard people say they are more sympathetic, more adventurous, more thoughtful, less resentful, more independent, more open to new ideas, more resilient and that they eat more dessert– to name a few.

All of this is good stuff don’t you think? I do. I love all of those things (especially the one about dessert).

dessert

So, where does this come from? Well, you may heave heard of a friend of mine called Joseph Campbell. (OK, He’s not my friend, but I like to pretend he is.) He came up with the idea of The Hero’s Journey which in a very tiny nutshell, is the idea that when we go on an adventure and face challenges and adversities that we are transformed and even improved by the experience.

I really think that is what happens to us when we deal with a transformative experience with our health.  Our experience changes us, it molds and shapes us until we can look at who we used to be in the past and say “Hey, I’m a better person than I used to be.”

 

star-wars-7

 

 

This just in…Sex Makes you Happier!

Yes, what  you have always suspected is true. That wonderful feeling you get after making love, having sex or getting lucky (depending on who you’re talking to) is good for you. Contrary to what they told us when we were 16, 17 or even 35, sex is healthy. In fact, it can increase your level of happiness quite significantly.

sexy pharmacist

BTW, this is what happens when you google “Sexy pharmacists”.

You know the feeling you get right after a particularly good sexual experience? Well, there is a chemical reason for that. There is a virtual pharmacy in our body creating the chemicals and hormones that we need to get through the day.

When we have sex, the tiny pharmacists inside us look at each other in their white coats and say “Gerald! our human had sex! We need to make some dopamine!” “That’s not all Marjorie, we should give them a huge dose of serotonin as well!” “By the way Marjorie you are looking very shapely in your white lab coat.” “Why thank you….perhaps I should unbutton it a bit, because its so hot in here…” At that point its all lava lamps and sexiness inside the body…That’s right even your body gets turned on by itself after you make love!

Alright I may have stretched my metaphor (and a couple of other things) in the last bit, but the point, is when we have sexual activity, our body produces both dopamine and serotonin that floods our system. When that happens, we feel good!

Alright this is the best statistic you will hear all day…

sex and money

….and this is what happens when you google “sex and money” at least the ones I can show.

Having sex once a week gives you the same boost of happiness and increased level of satisfaction as getting a raise of $50,000 a year.

Isn’t that the coolest? I can hear you now saying “Gosh that sounds great Rob, but what’s your source? Well a feature article in WebMD states

…”sex enters so strongly (and) positively in happiness equations that they estimate increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week is equivalent to the amount of happiness generated by getting an additional $50,000 in income for the average American.”

 http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/sex-and-happiness

Ok! So that is pretty awesome! So, you want to feel as good as you would making another 50K? Have sex once a week and you are good to go.

I know I am being a bit flip about this but this has some really terrific implications for us. Making love or having sex  can really positively impact our lives.

Alright, let’s talk about the scary thing…MASTURBATION. There, I said it so we can all get on with it.

Well, what about masturbation? What if if we do it ourselves (as it were)?

Again, the good news is we can the same increase in both serotonin and dopamine, So you’re good to go!

Want to learn more about how to be happier? Sure you do! My new book Doing Happiness: Uncovering The Benefits of Feeling Good is out on Amazon! Check it out here!

doing happiness cover amazon

5 stars and everything! Have a great day. – Rob

Doing Happiness is LIVE on Amazon.

Gold star

Five Stars On Amazon! Many Thanks!

 

For every 10 reviews on Amazon, I’ll donate 10 copies of Doing Happiness to Gilda’s Club of Greater Toronto
I won’t tell you how good it is, but Hugh Culver will!! Thanks Hugh!

“Even if you are a happy person, I want you to read this book. What Rob Hawke has done is to boil down the best of positive psychology, self-help, and sage advice into a very readable (131 pages of goodness) guide to, as he says “uncovering the hidden benefits of feeling good.”

doing happiness cover amazon

I just completed my new book “Doing Happiness: Uncovering The Hidden Benefits of Feeling Good” The good news is there are simple things we can do everyday to help us feel true happiness. More than that, I talk about the many tangible benefits our happiness brings to us and those we care about the most.I could use a bit of help.

Would you be willing to read it and write a review on amazon? It would take all of two minutes and it’s really easy.

You will get a FREE digital copy of Doing Happiness for your time.
 
Step 1: Hit this link (or the title below) and download a FREE digital copy of Doing Happiness,
Step 2: If you like it, leave a positive review! (If its 5 stars that would be so terrific)
Your positive 5 star review with even a few kind words would have a lot of impact. Sound easy? Well, it is!
Here’s the link again…
Many thanks for your help!  -Rob

What do you get when you have 400 people with chronic conditions in one room?

It sounds like the set up for a joke doesn’t it? But that’s what we had on June 30th. The very first Self Care Movement Summit in Toronto went off like crazy.

what do you get

People came from far and wide to participate. We had folks drive in from 5 hours away just to be there for the evening.

When you see a large conference room packed tight on a Monday night, you know that there is a real need for this. Folks needed to not only learn about what they are going through and how to deal with their situation, but they also wanted to connect with each other.

Some of the things we addressed were mindfulness, dealing with chronic illness at work, sex, intimacy, and using humour as a tool to help us every day. We had a patient panel that shared stories about what it was like to deal with our different conditions and we even managed to squeeze some laughs out of it.

OK, so we may have tried to cram too much really good content into one evening, but can you blame us? That’s like complaining that a meal has too much food or that somebody gave you too much chocolate or that your birthday present is too big to fit into your car. You get my point.cake

After working with cancer patients and their families for years, one of the most common things that I have heard is that once we are finished our primary care, we often feel lost. That was certainly how I felt after I got over my initial cancer treatment. My physician even looked at me and said “You’re cured” I was expecting triumphant movie music to come in as we hugged in a manly way, but the hug didn’t happen. Instead I thought “Really? I don’t feel cured. Besides, the cancer might be gone but I have this chronic situation to deal with for the REST OF MY LIFE. So, how is that cured?”

That’s what the summit was for. We were all there to talk about what happens now. How do we adjust to our lives in this “new normal”. How do we not just exist but help ourselves to thrive with the capabilities that we have?summit

When several hundred committed, smart and passionate people stand up and start sharing ideas, you feel it. You feel the energy shift from complacency and acceptance of the status quo to hopefulness and possibility. On Monday night a group of patients who were strangers just hours before, shared their wisdom and strategies to help people just like them.

So, back to our original question: What do you get when you have 400 people dealing with chronic conditions in one room?

Answer: A huge amount of courage and hope.

trudeau

Celebrity Fan Moment

Don’t you love when you meet someone famous and they’re more impressive than you thought? I was very excited to meet Margaret Trudeau and I actually got to say hello to her backstage. I am rarely at a loss for words. However, in meeting Margaret, I was virtually tongue tied. When she did her keynote, she spoke with such wit, honesty and vulnerability that I became a fan immediately. The standing ovation she got was proof that she connected with our group.

Many Thanks Margaret!

 

Are you a Patient? Go to MARS!

THE SELF-CARE MOVEMENT SUMMIT

If you’re a patient, you know about getting through tough times. If we reach out to other people, things get easier.

When I had cancer, I lived alone in a one bedroom apartment and quite frankly I had no idea how hard it was going to be. I thought I was tough enough to handle the challenges on my own. I wasn’t. Not only were the physical symptoms of my disease difficult, but I also suffered from depression and isolation. My story isn’t unique, or even close to the toughest one you’ll hear. Many patients like us stare down dark nights at 3 am and wonder how we’re going to make it to the morning. Being alone makes the journey much tougher. Helping each other makes it easier.

You are invited to the Self Care Movement Summit in Toronto on June 27th at Mars.

mars

If you or someone you love is sick, connecting with other patients can be the difference between languishing alone and feeling completely overwhelmed or tapping into a sense of community and accessing resources to make your journey easier.

The first time I connected with other patients was 3 years after my treatment.  I sat in a circle with other folks in recovery  and thought “Oh My Gosh! I should have been doing this from day one!” There was such power in meeting people who had similar challenges. People shared ideas and strategies on how to get through a tough day. We all breathed out as we realized that we were not alone in what we were facing.

It has been my honour as a speaker and author to work with groups of patients and their families for years now. Something almost magical happens when patients get together in the same room and support each other. It would be great if you could come to the…

Self Care Movement Summit on June 27th at MARS in Toronto

trudeau

The always entertaining and insightful Margaret Trudeau. We get to hear her speak! How cool is that?

Do you know who’s going to do the keynote? Margaret Trudeau! Really. Impressed? I am. There is also going to be incredible content on wellness, self care and managing chronic illness in the workplace.  As well, I will be doing my presentation “Taking The Laughter Pill: Humour and The Patient Journey.

Oh, Did I mention its FREE? And there are APPETIZERS? (At least there will be until I get there)

salmon

The appetizers may or may not be salmon. I’m not in charge of the food. But frankly, how can you go wrong with salmon? Just sayin’.

The link for the event is here.

Self Care Movement Summit on June 27th at MARS in Toronto

All of this content is valuable. Just as important is the opportunity to connect with people who are going through similar challenges and help each other realize that we are all going through this together.

See you there.