Saturday, December 31, 2011

References - A Last Post for 2011 ...

Hi everyone! I hope you're enjoying the holidays. Over the past few weeks I've had requests for compassion fatigue references from three graduate students in three different fields (nursing, social work and journalism) so I've decided to share the resources with you, as well.

The most comprehensive bibliography I know is that of Beth Hudnall Stamm on her website. This 1,034 article list was last updated at the end of November 2010.

Some more recent studies I would add are:

1.  Saint-Louis, Nicole (2010) A narrative intervention with oncology professionals: Stress & burnout reduction through an interdisciplinary group process. Social work doctoral thesis - University of Pennsylvania.

2.  Beck, CT  (2011)  Secondary traumatic stress in nurses:  A systematic review.  Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 25: 1-10.

3.  Boyle, Deborah (2011)  Countering compassion fatigue: A requisite nursing agenda.  The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, Vol 16 (1).

4.  Chavez, Marc (2011)  Predictors of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction ratings among healthcare workers in critical and non-critical units.  Paper and poster presented April 2011 at the 2nd Annual Nursing Research Day in Boise ID.

5.  Day, Jennifer and Ruth A Anderson (2011)  Compassion fatigue: an application of the concept to informal caregivers of family members with dementia.  Nursing Research & Practice, Article ID 408024, 10 pages.

6.  De Oliveria, GS et al  (2011)  High incidence of burnout in academic chairpersons of anesthesiology: Should we be taking better care of our leaders?  Anesthesiology, 114: 181-193.

 7.  Dworznik, Gretchen  (2011) Factors contributing to PTSD and compassion fatigue in television news workers.  International Journal of Business, Humanities and Technology, Volume 1, No 1, July 2011.

8.  Hyman, SA et al  (2011) Risk of burnout in perioperative clinicians, Anesthesiology, 114: 194-204.

9.  Levy, Hannah et al  (2011)  Deployment stressors and outcomes among air force chaplains.  Journal of Traumatic Stress,  Vol 24(3) 342-346.

10.  Sabo, Brenda (2011)  Reflecting on the concept of compassion fatigue in nursing care.  The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing,  Vol 16 (1).

11.  Slocum-Gori, Suzanne et al  (2011)  Understanding compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue and burnout: A survey of the hospice palliative care workforce.  Palliative Medicine (online), December 16, 2011.

12.  State Bar of Wisconsin  (2011)  The Toll of Trauma.  Wisconsin Lawyer, Vol 84 (12) December 2011.

13.  Ward-Griffin C et al (2011)  Compassion fatigue within double duty caregiving: nurse-daughters caring for elderly parents.  Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, Vol. 16(1), manuscript 4.

As is so often the case, the lack of consistent definitions for compassion fatigue, burnout, vicarious trauma and secondary traumatic stress leads to an ongoing lack of clarity in the field. For a good history of the evolution of the term, Compassion Fatigue, see Chris Marchand's excellent article, Compassion Fatigue: A History of the Concept. 

I hope this list will help ease the research journey for interested students returning to write Compassion Fatigue projects in the winter semester. Good luck!   

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Wishes ...

The holidays are times steeped in poignancy for caregivers of all sorts. Whether you are a hospice volunteer, a community health nurse, a family court judge, a clergyperson, an addiction counsellor or a family carepartner you will be confronted with the many holiday joys and sorrows of the people for whom you care.

Empathizing with your care recipients will affect you, both positively and negatively, as you go about your work and as you return home to your families. Knowing this, I send you heartfelt wishes for all that you need in order to replenish, restore and refresh your wellness this holiday season. In the words of an ancient Celtic prayer -

May we all have:

Grace for our needs
Strength for our weakness
Light for our blindness
Love for our loneliness
Words for our deafness
Joy for our weariness
Peace for our anxiousness
Wonder for our dullness
Hope for our hopelessness and
Health for our brokenness.

This year, I will be spending Christmas Eve with my family in Vancouver and then taking the 6:30 am (!) ferry to Vancouver Island on Christmas morning to share stockings, carol-singing, turkey and trimmings and, best of all, laughter and good conversation with my dear goddaughter and her family. I will be on holiday until January 3rd and, until then, wish you and yours every blessing of this bright and hopeful season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blessing for the Longest Night ...

Those of you who have attended my workshops will know of my love for the notion of blessing. Blessings, according to Celtic teacher and poet, John O'Donohue, are circles of light drawn around people to protect, heal and strengthen.

In the past, I have shared with you some blessings written by John O'Donohue. Today I would like to offer you a Solstice blessing from the writings of United Methodist minister, Jan L. Richardson. May it be a gift to all who live "long nights" during the holiday season.

Blessing for the Longest Night

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

It has practiced
walking in the dark, 
travelling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.

So believe me 
when I  tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you even though you cannot 
see it coming.

You will know
the moment of its 
by your release
of the breath
you have held so long;
a loosening of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.

This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows 
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means to travel
in the company 
of a friend.

So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up
Set out on the road
you cannot see.

This is the night
when you can trust
that every direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.

Copyright - Jan L. Richardson

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Antidote for the Christmas Blues ...

Are you feeling exhausted, depleted, and just a little bah-humbuggy?

Tired of adding lists and shopping malls to an already overfull life?

Hearing your voice sounding more irritated than joyful?

Caring so much for others that you've lost the larger picture?

Then, make yourself a nice hot drink, curl up in your favourite chair and watch this wonderful video clip, borrowed from one of Barbara Stahura's latest posts. By the time you're done, I guarantee that your perspective will have shifted and that your nervous system will have begun to calm. (The clip's best viewed in a full screen format.)

And, if you have a little more time - time to spend with your journal or just thinking quietly in your chair - you might want to consider completing one or more of these sentences -

1.  The ordinary things for which I'm grateful this holiday season are ...

2.  The miracles of life that make my heart sing are ...

3.  The things that truly matter this holiday season include ...

4.  The experiences that have made me smile this week are ...

5.  The things for which I'm hopeful are ...

May this video, the sentence stems, and the thoughts and feelings that spring from them, chase away some of the humbugs and bring you "a really good day".

(This lovely film was made by filmmaker, Louie Swartzberg, with music by Gary Malkin and narration from Brother David Steindl-Rast.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Energy ...

One of the best ways to keep up a good, steady level of energy through the holiday season (and to keep your weight in check) is to remember to eat healthy foods at regular intervals throughout the day, watching your intake of sweets, fat, salt and alcohol.

But with all the wonderful holiday baking and all the gourmet meals around, what's a person to do? ( The intentions are so strong but the body is oh, so weak ....!)

Well, recently I came across a holiday eating challenge on Ruth Buczynski's website, NICABM (National Institute for Clinical Application of Behavioural Medicine), that I think is well worth considering.  Based on the research of Dr Brian Wansink, PhD,  The Power of Three Challenge encourages us to change 3 mindless habits of eating for a period of 10 days and then see what a difference it makes in our lives. (He is convinced that we will want to continue, thus creating newer, healthier habits.)

Dr Wansink bases his challenge on the research laid out in his fascinating book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. He believes that we have a Mindless Margin of caloric intake where we can increase or decrease our calories by about 300 per day without noticing much difference in our feelings of satisfaction. Over time, however, our bodies can tell the difference as we begin to gain or lose weight and to stabilize our energy.

Here is the list of suggested changes.  Why not choose the three you would like to work on ( or one, if you do better at changing one thing at a time) and give yourself an energy boost and a rest from weight gain this holiday season? (As always, check with your physician before making changes in a prescribed diet.)

1.  Eat in a well lit room. You eat less when you can see what you're eating.

2.  Keep the bones.  We have a better sense of how much we've eaten when we can see the evidence. This could mean keeping empty beer bottles lined up on the table or hot wing bones on a side plate.

3.  Use the 1/2 Rule.  Aim for 1/2 as much protein and carbohydrates while doubting your servings of vegetables and fruit.

4.  Fill your plate, but keep it small.  When you use a smaller plate or bowl, this will naturally reduce portion size.

5.  Come up for air.  Try to slow down your pace at the table so you can rely on your body's internal cues. Then follow them - stop eating when you start to feel full rather than when your plate is clean or when you're over-stuffed.

6.  Downsize rather than supersize.  Try ordering a size down from what you would normally order.

7.  Pre-plate your food rather than serving it family style.  It's easier to make more healthful serving choices when you make decisions before you start.

8.  Pass on second helpings.

9.  Use taller, narrower glasses rather than shorter, wider ones.  You'll end up pouring less, but you probably won't notice the difference.

10.  Prepare healthy snacks for when you're on the go (try carrying along an apple or a small bag of carrots).

11.  Minimize variety in your snacks.  You'll be surprised to find ourself getting bored with the same old cheese curls, and you'll end up eating less.

12.  Put your apples on display.  Show off healthy foods in a prominent, well-lit area of your eating space, and banish unhealthy foods to the back corner of your cabinets.

13.  Keep chips out of reach.  When you have to seek out junk food consciously, it gives you a chance to think twice before indulging.

14.  Turn off the TV.  When distracted, we tend to consume more calories inadvertently.

15.  Eat meals with people who eat more healthfully than you do.  Studies have shown that we're influenced by the food choices the people around us are making.

16.  Keep unhealthy but tempting food in aluminum foil or opaque containers - out of sight is out of mind.

17.  Using smaller eating utensils and serving spoons. It's an easy way to slow down how quickly we eat and get back in synch with internal cues.

18.  Here's one for the whole family:  rename healthy foods to make them sound more appealing.  You might turn down a carrot-beet smoothie, but would you refuse a rainforest cocktail?

If you have other ideas to share, we would be happy to hear them!