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Monday, November 12, 2018

Holidays Your Way


What's best for you during the holidays? Many people associate holidays with particular traditions that may include familiar people, places, rituals, foods, music, and more. They may even internalize that if all or most of these components are not present, then their holidays are lacking, not whole, maybe even a failure. These feelings can lead to depression, helplessness about too much of their personal needs not being met.

Particularly troubling for some may be their adjustment to holiday customs after the loss of loved ones. In cases where memories remind them of traditions that are difficult to do without people no longer there, mourners may want to consider other ways they can better embrace the holidays. One option is to create new holiday practices. If holidays were celebrated as a family, new traditions can be planned as a family with input open to everyone. This will give them opportunities to discuss their feelings about the deceased loved ones and possibly include something in the new traditions that will commemorate the deceased in an uplifting manner. This could be a type of memorial that adds pleasure to holidays in the future.

Caregivers have special considerations and should not totally neglect their own needs. With a focus on the positive, they should create a workable plan to have holidays as stress-free as possible. They can consider including the essentials of what they hope to accomplish and eliminating activities that are not really needed. They should encourage assistance from others and be mindful of balance in their own lives. AARP suggests these 10 holiday tips specifically for caregivers.


Whatever situations the holidays bring, remember that there is no one way of participation for everyone. There are different ways that work well for different people. Their choices should be respected and not judged negatively because they are not the norm. For those who find the holidays frustrating, phony, or too commercial, they may want to redirect their holiday focus and participate in activities that are calmer and more meaningful to them. One example could be volunteering at places where they can be helpful to others. Some may want to celebrate alone or socialize with one or two friends. Another choice could be taking a trip to a location they love or want to experience.

Whether celebrating the holidays alone, with others, or not at all, people should follow their hearts and do what feels best for them. Person-centered holidays can include activities that may not have anything to do with the holidays at all, but everything to do with their own quality of life.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Monday, November 5, 2018

Emotional Intelligence: Haiku Poetry Improving Health (Nurse Research)


When you think of healthcare, what do you envision? Is your focus mostly on physical heath in terms of food, exercise, or illness? What about your  spiritual health? Are your concerns mainly about improving personal growth through religion or other practices promoting a more meaningful life? What do you think about when the topic is your emotional health? Are you as conscious of that part of yourself and what you can do to improve it?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Improved self-esteem and decision-making are two bonuses when emotional intelligence is addressed. In fact, research in nursing and other disciplines has demonstrated that emotional intelligence abilities “improve communication, support constructive conflict resolution, and improve individual and team performance.” These qualities can also improve safety of patients.

I facilitated a poetry workshop focused on the improvement of emotional intelligence with adult student participants (ages 20's through 70's) and volunteer tutors at Siena Literacy Center in Detroit, MI. I thought using haiku poetry would work particularly well for them because several are African immigrants becoming more familiar with 
the English language.


Students


Haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry focused on thoughts that capture special moments in time. Meaningful feelings are written in a small space. Haikus vary, but our workshop focused on including three lines with 5, 7, and 5 syllables. This is an example of a haiku poem:



 My oldest son died. (5 syllables)                             My daughter Fatou, (5)

 His sickness made me feel sad. (7 syllables)           I am proud she is reading. (7)

 I feel better now. (5 syllables)                                  She works hard in school. (5)

Arthur Cogshell                                                          Tamsir Ndow



Students




Adding the emotional intelligence theme combined with haiku in a supportive environment was ideal for us. Successfully expressing in poetry their heartfelt emotions and reading about emotions of others were great ways to engage everyone in win-win conversations with empathy. 

Tutors





We created healthy haikus about our joys, sadness, fears, and hopes. Poems were published in a wonderful anthology, which students proudly display in these photos. You can read a few of their haiku poems below. This project was done in partnership with Poets & Writers, Inc.
                                                               
He graduates soon,                                                    Working is much fun.

having good grades in college.                                  I like being a cashier
I am proud of him.                                                     making good money.

William Murphy                                                        Aletha Lewis

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.