Mark Freier’s unique journey through life has included several life-changing events. As he shares in his book, The Choice to Show Up: Who I Am Matters, this series of events left him searching for (and finding) “…a clarity of purpose and values.” His passion? Helping others transform and unlock their fullest potential. As an executive coach and trusted advisor, Mark works with corporations and individuals alike, helping them understand how they “show up” every day and the impact that has on both themselves and those around them.
Eloquest Healthcare has had the pleasure of working with Mark and having him join us as keynote speaker at our recent National Sales and Marketing Meeting. He has worked with our team to take a deeper look at how we “show up”, helping us be better teammates for each other, our loved ones and our customers.
Healthcare workers are currently being asked to “show up” under unprecedented extreme circumstances, like staff shortages and limited personal protective equipment (PPE), due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark and his colleague, Dr. Tim Hogan – psychologist specializing in interpersonal neurobiology and spiritual connection – recently shared their insights on noticing and processing your emotions as it relates to the pandemic and beyond. We asked Mark to share some additional insights for the Eloquest Healthcare Community. We hope you enjoy this exclusive interview!
What advice do you have for healthcare workers to “show up” as their best selves, even under these most extreme of situations?
We are facing the collective loss of normal.
Dr. Hogan describes our current reality as an “epic disaster.” It may seem like an over-exaggeration. Science proves otherwise. “Our limbic system has two jobs: to scan for threats (triggering anxiety) and to scan for connection (triggering relaxation). Our brain can only do one at a time. And, transitions from one to the other take time.”
This pandemic relentlessly assaults our limbic system with threats and unknowns, often leaving it overloaded and stuck in threat detection mode. This leaves us feeling edgy and impatient, even when we would rather be relaxed, warm and compassionate.
Because of this limbic system challenge, “showing up” as our best often seems out of reach. Even when we stop looking at our decimated 401-k or the uncertain future, even when we would like to be kind or calming, there is an underlying “LEAK” that we give off that something isn’t quite right.
I call this The Principle of the Leak, which has more long-term influence than anything else we say or do. There are three essential principles:
- All of us leak and our leak impacts others. A person’s leak has an effect and is multiplied by the critical mass of the leak of a team or family.
- Leaking has pervasive effects. Like food coloring, the leak will permeate everything: our work and our relationships (coworkers, patients, cleaning people, etc.)
- Leaking is unconscious and unintentional. People sense the energy we leak. And, like it or not, faking or pretending that emotions don’t impact us for the long-term isn’t healthy.
The current pandemic has nurses and healthcare workers experiencing intense physical and emotional exhaustion. What coping strategies do you recommend?
Healthcare workers know the importance of compartmentalization and practice it regularly. These abnormal times call for a revised strategy.
Emotions are contagious. When you are around people who are often feeling anxious it calls for vigilance in self-care.
- Be self-aware and self-manage…regularly. Ask yourself, “What am I noticing about my feelings and behavior and why am I reacting or responding in this way?”
- Face your losses and grieve them well. Not only have we lost obvious things, such as money, social gatherings, and an overall sense of safety, but we also need to face the losses that we suspect are on the horizon. By facing these losses, naming the feelings, and choosing to embrace reality we free ourselves to live from our hearts. It takes much more energy to avoid our pain and loss than it does to look it in the eye and surrender it.
- Practice mindfulness in way that suits your personality, especially at home. Intentionally focus your awareness on the present moment and implement strategies that calm your mind, put your spirit at ease, help you relax, refocus your attention, etc.
- Cognitively “prime” your nervous system for positivity. Work on a gratitude list. Thank people who make your life better. Slow down to notice the beauty around you. After practicing this consistently for several years I can tell you that this will reduce stress and increase your sense of well-being. It will also cause your body to produce more oxytocin.
After facing much adversity, how can we emerge from the pandemic with compassion?
Compassion comes from the Latin: com=with and passion=suffer. The etymology describes the choice; I can “show up” with compassion.
Your revised strategy might include pausing before you enter a room, taking a deep breath and asking yourself, “What does this patient need from me right now? In addition to the medical tasks, how do I provide human connection?” When coworkers have a snarky edge with you, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “How can I connect and also set a healthy boundary or have a crucial conversation with them?”
Creatively experiment with HOW you show compassion: sympathizing, looking them in the eye, acknowledging reality, sharing with them what you are doing to keep them, the unit and yourself safe, etc.
And, make it a special point to connect with coworkers, family and friends and share with them how you are navigating the abnormal times.
This gets back to self-care. The first person to practice compassion on is yourself.
Consider: What can I do to “show up” as my best self?
We hope you enjoyed Mark Freier’s thoughts on coping during these extreme times. If you’d like to learn more about Mark’s journey and perspective, you can enter to win a signed copy of his book The Choice to Show Up. Please complete the form here to enter!
Do you want to hear more from Mark Freier and Dr. Tim Hogan?
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For everyone caring for patients during this pandemic, we here at Eloquest Healthcare thank you. We are committed to providing solutions that can help you protect patients and caregivers alike. For more information, please contact your sales consultant or Eloquest Healthcare®, Inc., call 1‐877‐433‐7626 or visit www.eloquesthealthcare.com.