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  • Staying in the saddle over the holidays

    Roberta Hanus, NASW WI President

    Greetings fellow social workers across Wisconsin!
    With the elections behind us, our work is more clear-cut than ever before. How do we handle the number of budgetary, social and policy changes looming on the horizon without losing hope, without crashing and burning? We can gear up for the upcoming season by engaging in a few practice skills that you already have within your reach. In fact several of these skills are innate, that’s right…you were born with them! It doesn’t get much cheaper than this, folks. And while these skills may not be tested with the same research models that uphold other aspects of the profession, they will be helpful. So as you’re preparing to meet with post-election tensions in your communities or between neighbors and relatives who may see things differently than you do, see if can remember the following three (3) practice skills. 1) Breathe! Before responding to a socio-political conversation in haste, see if you can hesitate, and take a moment to breath. Breathing as an intervention is a tool that most of us have either forgotten about or never heard of. Yet it is an essential ingredient in mindfulness based practices which have been gaining headway with all sorts of problems and populations. Simply remembering to consciously take a breath, we can slow down the pace of our mind’s desire to fix or control a conversation, allowing the brief, momentary pause to consider something other than just a a socio-political conversation in haste. knee-jerk reaction. 2) Stay connected to your local branch! As members of this organization, all have access to a local branch, the group of our peers who are seasoned social workers, have retired or maybe are getting into the profession in our community for the first time. This local group is an excellent resource for stress management and sharing ideas with to cope with the failing empire. In the past few months I’ve been particularly impressed with folks in the Northeast Branch who have collectively responded to two separate discriminatory incidents in their communities. There’s a sense of relationship that we have as members. Being a part of a group, feeling included, belonging has significance when we’re working to stay cool, calm and connected. 3) Use the blog! Another intervention that doesn’t have the time-tested results some other interventions may have! If you can’t express your concerns or ideas in person, relay your frustrations and needs to the blog (hopefully some of you have found it in the upper right hand corner of the website). Let yourself feel the benefits of being alive, having a local branch and enjoying the benefits of membership! Trying even one of these interventions should help bolster your ability to stay in the saddle as we continue to encounter a rocky and rebellious landscape.