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Thriving through Caregiver Compassion Fatigue: Improve

In this episode, you will learn about the dialectical behavior therapy, skill of IMPROVE. So in dialectical behavior therapy, which is a therapy that was created for folks who had really, really intense, intense emotions, or really challenging experiences going on, there are a lot of acronyms.

And the one we'll talk about today is. One of them is called IMPROVE. So IMPROVE stands for imagery, meaning prayer, relaxation, one thing in the moment, vacation and encouragement. So in our last episode, we talked a little bit about imagery. When we were talking about going on a mental vacation, like thinking of your favorite memory, favorite place, or the most relaxing place you can think of.

And also with creative visualization. And so that's something that you could do for imagery. Another thing you can do is think about meaning. So even though you may be having a lot of very challenging things happening in your life at that moment, you can look at your life and see, is there some meaning?

Is there something that you've learned or something, something good? That's come out of it for you, a family member, a child, have you learned better ways to cope with it? Have you learned ways to help other people or to share your experience? Can you find any meaning in what is going on in that Instance? P is for prayer. And I understand that not everyone is religious or even spiritual and that's okay. Prayer doesn't have to mean an actual biblical prayer. It can be something else, like a mantra or a song, a quote, a sound, something you tell yourself. It can even be so relaxed as to be. Engaging in mindfulness or meditation, or just focusing your thoughts.

So prayer still works, even if you're not religious or spiritual, relaxation is pretty flexible. So it can mean any of the things that we've already talked about relating to mindfulness. But it could be something else. It could be a massage or a bubble bath, or watching a show, doing a hobby, reading a book.

He could be the progressive muscle relaxation. It could be this slowed, deep breathing, anything that really relaxes you. Ideally something that is more helpful than overeating drugs, drinking and cigarettes of course. Oh, is one thing at the moment. We'll talk a little bit more in the next course about how to self-soothe, which is really the essence of focusing on one thing at the moment.

But in this case, it is taking. One part of the experience you're having right in that moment and focusing your whole mind on it. So if your child is having a meltdown or a tantrum, or there's a crisis, maybe instead of focusing on every detail of the crisis in the time that it takes you to walk from yourself to your child, focus on what your feet are feeling like in the moment, or if you're really stressed about.

Things that have to happen at work the next day or a medical appointment, maybe focusing at dinner time on something funny that your child's doing or your experience in making breakfast or one thought going through your mind, a thought that you choose. So just pick one thing that's happening at that moment.

One part of your current experience and being there with that one thing, instead of focusing on the past. V is a vacation. Now, of course it would be lovely if this meant a physical vacation. And if you can do that, wonderful, but for a lot of us that is not possible, nor is it safe during coronavirus to go on a vacation.

A lot of us don't have the finances or the help to go on vacation. And I know that's been the case for myself as well. So vacation can be a short break from your circumstances. It could be as lovely as a one-night respite, retreat and afternoon with a friend. And that could be on zoom. If coronavirus is still an issue, it could be going to the grocery store or target by yourself.

Taking a nice walk, a mindful hot shower, or even something as quick as a hideout in the bathroom. Or taking a little bit longer to drive away before you go somewhere in the car. I know that some of my friends have said that the best time for them is after they've gotten the kids in the car, but they haven't gotten in the car.

So maybe just take an extra minute before you actually get in the car. Just stand next to the car. And then the last one for today is encouragement. Now, I don't know if you've heard of this before, but self-talk really comes into play here. So this is not trying to be a Pollyanna saying that everything's perfect, but this is telling yourself realistic expectations of how things will go or how things are going to go today.

It's thinking kinder thoughts. To yourself about what you're doing and what you're going through and about yourself in general. So think about what you would want a friend to tell you or what you would tell your child, if you were in this situation, what kind of things would you say to them and then say that to yourself.

So in conclusion, IMPROVE skills, which again are imagery, meaning prayer, relaxation, One thing in the moment, vacation and encouragement are really helpful when you're really struggling in that moment or in a certain experience. And they help keep you at the moment while also boosting and making your present experience.

In the next episode, we will learn more about ways to self-soothe when things get really, really, really distressing. Thank you for listening to this course on Listenable. I hope you enjoyed it.

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Written by

Jessica Temple