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Four Steps to a Mindful Pause

Wellcoaches Professional Health and Wellness Coach Cami Smalley’s book, 

arrived on the literary horizon it seems at just the right time. In early March when her book was first launching and we were just starting to hear rumblings about a potential health concern, she shared her thoughts on Wellcoaches, mindfulness, and impact of worksite culture.

The guidance within her book are just the sort of anchoring tools any person, especially a coach, needs right now.

The four steps to a mindful pause are: stop, breathe, think, choose.

And within the context of a pandemic and the experience of fear at an all time high, her steady reminders to breathe and consider “what is also true” in this time are game-changers. Cami’s niche focus of resilience both for her clients and her readers is focused on the fact that many need help with self-regulation and that emotional domain is critical for being successful in other behavior-change habits.

She encouraged that we all need to take care of ourselves in this time so we don’t “freak out.” It’s important to not be hijacked by the fear of “what could happen.”

And while you wait for Cami’s book to arrive on your doorstep or on your Kindle, here are two simple exercises that she suggests using to ratchet down the stress, fear and/or anxiety:

1. Remember the power of the breath— without knowing it we hold our breath.

2. Employ equally true: while we can use the facts around the current state of things to be vigilant. She says that fear, anxiety, worry can be useful in motivating putting systems into place like good hygiene or social distancing. But then shut it off. Let go of the worry and allow space for what is equally true. Such as: the sun is out, we have loving relationships, we have ways to satisfy our meaning and purpose.

She encourages keeping our focus wide. She credited her Wellcoaches education for part of that outlook, “I am so grateful for my Wellcoaches training” stating that one of the powerful tools she learned was the power of positivity.

When working with clients, she provides perspective and a reminder that we are wired to protectively look for negativity and that can be to our detriment. “I reinforce that with care providers and we have a built-in negativity bias to protect us. And skill development to look for what’s wrong … at the deficit of sustainability.”

She encourages her clients: “When you leave work and you leave the hospital you may notice the potholes and not the sky. The other drivers are annoying you. You are finding ways to fix the city’s despair instead of noticing the blue sky.”

Cami came to the process of Mindful Pause because she said she needed the skills for herself but was also clear that her approach is one of many. There are many ways to find a process of self-care and regulation that work. She says, “I couldn’t write a prescription of self-care the way some clients come up with.”

Cami shared one of the ways taking a pause has been helpful for her is being able to choose between alter egos of truck driver or church lady. She said she can be hot-tempered and sharp-tongued and was even celebrated for that, it became part of her identity. She said she was often loved for that but sometimes it’s hurtful. And she didn’t want that to be how she showed up all of the time — for that to be “all of me,” she said. “I needed mindful pause to give me a gap.” A place where she got to decide. When she can think, “is it appropriate for me to truck driver or do I need to continue with breathing to shift and do my church lady?”

“That’s why Margaret’s work with Internal Family Systems and the different voices is so important,” she said. What voice is most predominant is attached to a particular strength. She said, creating enough of a gap to decide how to share the mic and allow a lesser-used voice some air time is sometimes more appropriate and life-giving.

Cami is a wealth of information but one of the greatest parting reminders and pieces of knowledge is that it’s the heart’s job to supply blood flow and nutrients to the body, so we can live. It only does that after supplying blood flow to itself first. Self-care is about being able to supply oneself first, then get to the work of helping others.

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