At our April 5th Interpreter Wellness Lunch & Learn (Outside In), Dr. Tim VanDuivendyk led participants in a guided meditation. Meditation is one of the many coping strategies named by Dr. VanDuivendyk, who serves as Vice President of Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and as a licensed Professional Counselor and marriage and family therapist.
Dr. VanDuivendyk has extensive experience helping healthcare professionals cope with the pain and suffering that comes along with working in a hospital. When we are exposed to the suffering and grief of others, we are affected. How we are affected differs from person to person, but we are all affected. There are emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions to the effects of these so-called “emotional germs.” One might experience a loss of focus, stress or anxiety, apathy, or decreased enjoyment of life. We might have increased blood pressure or fatigue. Someone else’s suffering may lead us to question our faith or the existence of a higher power.
Since the effects of emotional stress can be so different, it’s important to find out what works for you. The first step is to acknowledge the effects and know we must take care of ourselves. Dr. VanDuivendyk mentioned several self-care tools, such as physical exercise, talking with a debriefing partner, making sleep a priority, laughing and playing, and conscious breathing exercises combined with a cognitive affirmation (or prayer).
Maybe you will find this short meditation useful in your emotional processing and self-care, or in your everyday life to remain calm, present, and aware.