Read, Write, Listen, Move - Beyond the Classroom

Reflection - Kaitlin Calla




Physical health gets a lot of attention. Sore back - book a massage therapy appointment, blurry vision - its time to see the optometrist, teeth giving you trouble - dentist here you come and don’t forget about the chiropractor, physiotherapist, podiatrist, dermatologist, orthodontist, otolaryngologist (ENT) and so many more skilled professionals that treat our physical self.


But who ‘treats’ our emotional and cognitive well-being in addition to making sustainable physical health improvements?


I’m talking about a shift from ‘treating’ to ‘teaching’. Enter the up-and-coming era of the Wellness Coach. An allied health professional working not in opposition but as a complimentary guide in addition to all of the familiar physical health specialists. Wellness Coaches use proactive behavioural changes, reflection, and goals that align with values, self-advocacy, sleep hygiene and active lifestyles to illicit sustainable results.


I am on a journey as I accept my offer to the Wellness Coaching program at Humber College. A journey that included over six years teaching in the public school system, before and during a global pandemic. This time in the classroom taught me great lessons in patience, acceptance, community and resiliency.


I am more aware of my own values, priorities and well-being. It has been a surprising, rewarding and challenging part of my journey but I know it is time to seek out new environments to grow, learn and build relationships.



Read: Reading for Pleasure

Do you have a book on the go? It might be a book recommended, borrowed from a friend or an audiobook to listen to on a long walk. Studies show that regular reading for pleasure may help to prevent burnout and increase empathy, specifically in the medical profession (du Sautoy, 2021).


There will always be competing interests and responsibilities but if reading for pleasure is prioritized there may be notable health benefits. A few positive impacts include improved decision making, improved self-esteem, reduced risk of depression, increased sleep quality and increased creativity (du Sautoy, 2021). Book clubs stemming from pleasure reading could be the missing piece to help build connections with others and strengthen existing relationships.



Write: Journaling


Writing is an opportunity to see the potential. It organizes thoughts, articulates plans and can be a tool to regulate emotion. My morning routine starts with daily journaling. I began this practice in January of 2022 and it has been a source of clarity, relief and goal setting for me.


A study in Rochester, New York focused on the effect of journaling on registered nurses as it relates to compassion satisfaction, burnout, and trauma/compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue also known as secondary trauma is work-related, secondary exposure to extremely stressful events (Dimitroff et al. 2017).


This may occur in healthcare, education settings or similar work environments. The counterpart to compassion fatigue is compassion satisfaction, a sum of all of the positive feelings gained from helping others.


Participants attended a six-week journaling program consisting of six 2.5-hour journaling classes. Follow-up data were collected in the form of a survey right after the program and again two months after the program. Although a small study (n=66), in this population, journaling proved to increase compassion satisfaction, reduce burnout and help professionals make more reasonable decisions (Dimitroff et al. 2017).



Listen: Sound Meditation


Stop. Listen. What do you hear? Is it the cars rushing past you at the bus stop? Perhaps it's your pet softly snoring? The music washing over you on the sound system in a restaurant amid the clink of dishes and conversations? The voice of a family member on a work call in the other room, or your own keyboard as you type email number 25 of the day?


In the fall of 2021, I attended my first sound bath. The hour of deep relaxation was a physical, emotional and mental recharge. It was refreshing to listen with concentration and intent, a skill that I am transferring to my conversations and daily communication.



Sound meditation has been used by various cultures across the globe for centuries. Intentionally listening to the high intensity, low-frequency instruments often induces a deep relaxation response and elicits positive effects on mood. In clinical settings, patients postoperative after an abdominal hysterectomy reported lower stress levels after listening to music than patients who were not exposed to the musical treatment. Additional studies of dialysis patients listening to music had significantly lower blood pressure than patients without music during treatment (Salamon et al. 2003).



Move: Alliance Athletics

How does society view the word, lost? A friend might say, “I lost my job”, in the neighbourhood you see a sign for a lost dog, or maybe on a vacation you misread the sign and find yourself lost on the way to the beach. In all of these cases, loss may equate to negative stress, sadness, frustration or worry.


When we are framing our health and fitness goals let’s shift from a losing mindset to a winning one. Rather than measuring our success as losing pounds, dropping inches and shrinking a clothing size, let’s make the wins be our focus and guide. Let’s reframe our goals to gain strength, to increase flexibility, boost confidence and build healthy patterns of self-talk.


Training with Alliance Athletics as a client, and now growing further and collaborating as a student coach, has taught me how to train my body with clear and specific goals. Training with principles of structural balance, movements in all three planes of motion and an understanding of connective tissue training will lead to long-term sustainable movements and enjoyment of sport and physical activity.


Closing Thoughts


An excerpt from Judy Brown's poem Fire tells us “When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on the logs, then we can come to see how it is fuel, and the absence of fuel together, that make fire possible.” When applied to our lives, do we focus on the drills, skills, ‘to dos’ and physical self (logs of the fire) exclusively? Or do we also practice and prioritize: reading, journaling, meditation, daily movement and internal dialogue (the space)?




Citations


Dimitroff, L. J., Sliwoski, L., O’Brien, S., & Nichols, L. W. (2017). Change your life through journaling–The benefits of journaling for registered nurses. Journal of Nursing Education and Practice, 7(2), 90-98.


du Sautoy, T. (2021). The benefits of reading for pleasure. InnovAiT, 14(5), 325–330. https://doi.org/10.1177/1755738020986825.


Salamon E, Kim M, Beaulieu J, Stefano GB. Sound therapy induced relaxation: down regulating stress processes and pathologies. Med Sci Monit. 2003 May;9(5):RA96-RA101. PMID: 12761468.


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