Podcast: Managing COVID-19 Fatigue with Marie Louise and Kerrie Otto de Grancy

NMS Podcast
Feeling fatigued by COVID-19? This episode of the Your Health Matters podcast may lift your spirits.

Podcast cover: Nurse in COVID-safe PPE

Podcast details

Episode: 29
Guests: Marie Louise and Kerrie Otto de Grancy
Duration: 48:18
Tags: Mental health, COVID-19, fatigue, burnout
Soundcloud: Listen to Episode 29


The COVID-19 pandemic feels like a marathon. Many nurses and midwives have been racing against this pandemic since March 2020. We all want it to end. If you are feeling fatigued and exhausted by the impact of COVID-19, you are not alone. Chances are you feel like you haven’t had time to pause and catch your breath.

We hear from nurses and midwives that they feel drained and don’t know how to refuel.

We thought you may need a helping hand. On this episode of The Your Health Matters podcast we speak to Marie Louise and Kerrie Otto de Grancy, from the Evolve Yourself Institute (EYI) about the importance of your health, wellbeing and self-care and the impact of not doing so during challenging times.

EYI is committed to supporting nurses and midwives to get their life on track with self-care practices and processes. They share some breathing and mindfulness activities to incorporate into your day and fortify yourself against chronic stress. 

Many nurses and midwives feel exhausted and often overwhelmed by the response required over the prolonged response required of them during the pandemic. It is vital to your wellbeing that you set time aside each day, even if it is 5 minutes, to give yourself self-care and take a moment to do something that allows you to pause, breathe, be still and start to recover.

Marie Louise also shares more tips and strategies to support your health and wellbeing in a blog, Attention Please

Here are some other resources to help you manage pandemic fatigue: 

We hope this podcast supports you to pause, take a breath and focus on your health and wellbeing. If you’d like to talk, take a minute to reach out for support — give Nurse & Midwife Support a call on 1800 667 877.

Your health REALLY does matter!

Mark Aitken RN 


Mark Aitken [0:09] Welcome to the Nurse & Midwife Support podcast: Your Health Matters. I'm Mark Aiken, the podcast host. I'm the Stakeholder Engagement Manager with Nurse & Midwife Support, and I'm a registered nurse. Nurse & Midwife Support is the national support service for nurses, midwives and students. The service is anonymous, confidential and free, and you can call us anytime you need support. 1800-667-877, or contact us via the website: nmsupport.org.au.

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Your Health Matters podcast. It's my pleasure to welcome back to the podcast Marie Louise and Kerrie Otto de Grancy, from the Evolve Yourself Institute. You may remember that we spoke to Kerrie and Marie in 2018 about all things self-care, the importance of self-care for nurses and midwives, and the wonderful work that the Evolve Yourself Institute—or EYI—do, in relation to supporting nurses and midwives. Hello, Marie and Kerrie, and welcome back.

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [1:25] Hi, Mark.

Marie Louise [1:26] Hello, Mark, how good is this?

Mark Aitken [1:29] It's so good to speak to you both again. I know our listeners will love listening to your pearls of wisdom today and get an update about what EYI have been up to since we last spoke, and acknowledge the challenging and difficult place that many nurses and midwives find themselves in at the moment.

We're speaking at the beginning of August, 2021, when many parts of New South Wales and Greater Sydney are in lockdown, in relation to the Delta strain of COVID-19. Much of the world, and indeed Australia, has been through an incredible rollercoaster with COVID-19. So: how the world has changed since we last spoke. Marie and Kerrie, would you please remind our listeners about who you are and what EYI does? Marie, will we start with you?

Marie Louise [2:28] Absolutely. We are a fabulous little group of people who go around and support nurses and midwives, get their life on track with self-care practices and processes. Ideally, going into hospitals and educating them from the grassroots, supporting their wellness strategy and process, offering ways in their systemized approach, really bringing such activities alive in their day-to-day workspace. Rather than [self-care] being an outside job when you get home or the last thing that you do, we would like to invite it as a fundamental shift in the culture. We offer those processes to be able to do that. It's very exciting. Anything you want to add to that, Kerrie?

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [3:14] No, I think that's great. That's absolutely...you nailed it, Marie.

Mark Aitken [3:20] Since we spoke in late 2018...and that podcast is up on Your Health Matters podcast list via the Nurse and Midwife Support website, www.nmsupport.org.au. You can find that podcast, but we'll put the link in as part of this. You've been traveling this country when we could, I know because I was with you at one stage in Queensland, talking to nurses and midwives. Your system and your education has really gone far and wide. How's that going?

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [3:56] Look Mark, it's been incredible, pre-COVID, in terms of the travel, really inspiring for us seeing rural areas of Australia, really stepping forward and wanting to embrace self-care practices, and also looking after their teams. Actually it was March last year, so just on that fine borderline of the COVID outbreak, when we locked down. It was up in Central West Queensland, that was incredible. I know the audience there was a combination of your nurses, midwives, paramedics and social workers. A lot of the tools and concepts we were introducing were very new to these individuals which was inspiring to know that that's reaching them now. That was a real highlight for us last year.

We've been across to Perth, of course Melbourne, Adelaide, all over Australia, which is fantastic. Obviously COVID put a halt to the travel, which led us to doing some other great things last year for our nurses and midwives. I'm not sure if you remember, Mark, we rolled out our 100 day program for free through our app, providing tools and concepts and information for nurses and midwives to access, as a support line for them, to curve some health habits and help keep them in check with their own self-care. For many nurses...I know just through feedback, Marie and I know, that really served. That was a great thing to be able to do during that first outbreak.

Mark Aitken [5:29] Thank you. You provided a workshop to the Nurse & Midwife Support team of clinicians who answer the phone to nurses and midwives throughout Australia. That was a wonderful workshop. Any nurses and midwives out there who want to organize a workshop on health, wellbeing and self-care for the nurses and midwives, I would highly recommend that they get in touch with you at the Evolve Yourself Institute.

Have you pivoted that to online at the moment, like a lot of people have?

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [6:00] Absolutely. You know, that's probably—I think Marie will agree with me—one of the biggest outcomes for us last year. We would usually find our workshops to be that highlight and connection without our audience and community of nurses and midwives, we did pivot, and we took our online offering to another level. Our programs...historically we would coach in live time, but through our app, and through text or pre-recorded video. We've taken it to the next level, where we incorporate weekly zoom workshops with our online users, which has been amazing, Mark.

Online learning can be quite difficult at the best of times, particularly now when we've got individuals that are stretched more than ever, and a lot of the time over that whole idea of being online and driving themselves can be really challenging from a motivational side of things and also through accountability. Providing these weekly workshops and connections with Marie Louise has been an absolute game changer. We've seen completion rates of our programs and outcomes for individuals increase incredibly. We might have had 60% completion rate previously, it could have been a 70% completion rate. But now we're seeing a 98% completion rate.

What does that translate to? It means that the individuals are really grasping the concepts and tools that we're teaching them, and finishing really well with a deep understanding of what they've learned and being able to take that into their lives. So that's been huge for us and it's meant that we've focused on our leadership training, which is online. We did get to do a couple of retreats last year, Mark, so it wasn't all online and virtual, and this year.

I just want to say something on that because Marie and I are incredibly passionate about raising nurses and midwives, not just with their self care, but how they experience life and their education with us. I think I shared it with you last week, Mark...we love to treat all of our nurses and midwives like kings and queens, and have them experience beautiful experiences, whether it's a day workshop with us, whether it's the online experience, or at a retreat. I think that's something that hasn't always been the case with nurses and midwives in terms of when it's been education or experiences where we like to ramp that up. So that's been fun. We've been playing in that area, too.

Mark Aitken [8:40] That's wonderful. I follow you on social media, and I did notice those retreats on social media. I think I noticed them during the long extended lockdown in Victoria last year. I must say I did feel a bit envious! But I turned that into gratitude for the fact that I have connected with you both and your systems and your system of self, and that I've done several of your courses. I'm very excited about the fact I could potentially jump on zoom and connect with your incredible wisdom. So if I wanted to do that, or a listener wanted to do that, how do they do that?

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [9:18] Well, our programs are all available on the website, Mark. At the moment, there's a few entry points. We've got our online offerings, so for workshops not in your area, there's the online [version]. The way we've created our offerings with our online and our workshop programs, which are the entry points into our education, is that they are designed to do independently or together. Together, obviously, is your ultimate desire. We offer a bundle package which is a little bit more affordable as well, you get a discount when you do the two together. But the workshops at the moment...we've got a couple in Queensland coming up, three actually, all going well, at the end of the year. One in September, in Brisbane, and then November, we've got Cairns and Gold Coast. All going well, and you know, COVID, whatnot, we can go ahead with those. But the online program, we start those monthly. We've got one starting this weekend. Once a month that intake happens, which is great because then you start a community. With the retreats, they vary at the moment with COVID. But usually, we do a couple a year and we always run one at the end of our leadership training. Our leadership graduates jump on and join us with that. So head over to the website, which is eyi.global, and you'll find most of the information there. Otherwise, always drop us a line or give us a call, Marie and I love a conversation, and the team.

Mark Aitken [10:43] That's great, fantastic information. Now, Marie, when I was looking at your bio again in preparation for the podcast, I read that: 'Marie Louise is a true activist in bringing self-awareness to the forefront of attention. Inside out approach to the whole wellbeing'. I really connected with that, because I think self-care requires a level of activism. So can you talk a bit about that?

Marie Louise [11:13] I suppose it's a silent approach, not so silent at times. Not waving a banner, or fighting a fight, but really actually embodying the knowledge and taking steps in my own action for self-care. When that embodiment really starts to permeate through the skin, or the sleeve of the person, that has a ripple and a powerful effect upon all of the people around. It might seem [like] silent activism, where the voice isn't screaming out loud. There's no fight for the fight, it's actually just a real sense of self-understanding, and then permeating through conversations or people of interest and allowing the people of interest to come to us. People who are willing to explore their own awareness and growth to be the best person that they can be moving forward in their own lives.

Now, too often, what I see in systems is that it comes from an approach where we're being told what to do, how to do it, when we do it, when we do this, how we do that, and that just lays so much pressure on the shoulders of a person. It comes with a weight. In my own experience of internal suffering was a realization that actually, that's just got to be seen through the lens of the person and inspired through that experience. Sometimes [you might] crash, before you actually activate that intrigue of, or curiosity into, what does it really take to bring self-care alive into our lives, so it enhances all life. That embodiment is active, it's not something that is only spoken about, it's actually active, alive and well in the skin.

I suppose it's through that lens that Evolve Yourself Institute was founded on and really want[ed] to bring alive those conversations that inspire someone to wake up to their real intuitive intelligence that they've got inside themselves. Bringing alive self-care is a real gift to the world, I think, especially with those that are serving other people. Frontline services know how to look after other people. They're masters at it. It's a reflex, it's an automatic response in the body/mind. But unfortunately, where the missing link is, they don't include themselves in that. Us three can sit here and relate to that, in some way or another, and when we're looking into the field of frontline services, it's a stand out of majority. We'd like to shift that in a way that serves the whole, because there's a lot of people in the world helping other people. I think it's a bit of a missing link.

Mark Aitken [14:24] That's wonderful. Let's create a movement! We've started the movement already, let's create that movement around the activism of self-care. I love it. And get that moving. So we're on a mission, and we're collaborating as like-minded humans in the service and support of nurses and midwives and indeed, all health professionals, to be able to live their best life. Bring it on!

Please, if you're listening to this, know that you can join this movement. It's absolutely free and you can spread the self-care word far and wide. If you'd like to chat to any of us, please get in touch. We'll provide those details at the end of the podcast. If you're a nurse, midwife or student listening to this podcast, and you need support, please know that support is available. Nurse and Midwife Support, 1800-667-877, or via the website nmsupport.org.au. We're 24/7, Australia-wide, and if you need to talk, we're listening.

Now, self-care, we could argue, as a result of all that, has never been more important in the turbulent and changing world that we live in, that's confronted people on so many levels. Particularly, in our cases, we're talking to nurses and midwives. We've talked a bit about why self-care is important, why health and wellbeing is important. But for a nurse or midwife, say, caught up in the busyness of life, being on the frontline of the pandemic, caring for others. How do they actually stop, pause, or reflect and stop perhaps being hypervigilant, to be able to give themselves time and space to make self-care a habit and a priority?

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [16:28] I'm going to jump in there, Mark, on a practical [note] and I'll let Marie lead on afterwards with her lovely wisdom. My background is, I'm an ex elite athlete. I like to use the relationship of becoming an athlete or running a marathon, apply that to the same way we do self-care. How did I become elite at what I did? How did I become one of the best at what I did? And that was through some structure, some planning, consistency, scheduling, and finding the things through that process of what was working and what wasn't.

My advice always to anyone who's stuck, and hasn't formed yet those wonderful habits that are serving them, [is] to sit down and write out what their week usually looks like, from Monday to Sunday. A general week, and I know that varies greatly with nurse and midwifery shifts and things but just take your average week. Look at that, and then find the gaps as to where there might be moments of time that you can start out with a micro-change or just one small thing. It can be as simple as, "In that 10 minutes, I'm going to have a cup of tea." However, preferably where you're just having a quiet moment. It can be very simple stuff like that. But by creating that schedule of looking at your week to see where those gaps are, you can then see that you actually do have spaces of time.

Then look at: "What can I give up to make room for the things that really do matter, which is number one, my health and mental health, physical health, emotional, spiritual." It could be Netflix, it could be a myriad of things. It could be outsourcing, getting the husband or the wife to go and do the shopping that day, and that half hour was your time. It can start out with something very small. It can be five minutes a week, and then build on that. I think what can happen and what we see is that overwhelm of change overnight. It's not about that. It's that incremental build.

So number one, get your schedule, look at where those gaps of time are, and then write out your ideal week. The week you'd like to see and where you'd like to see that self-care. I think most of us know that it's encouraged that we create a space in every day for ourselves, and in that we have some time to do some exercise and movement, a little bit of self-reflection, and ideally, some meditation. But it's not to do that all overnight, Mark. I think really looking at finding a system and a schedule that works for you. That's definitely something we offer and teach through our programs, when you do our longer programs. It's all about habit change, working out the things that are working for you through trial and error, and then creating those little habits because it's the little things that add up. It doesn't have to be huge overnight. Then, like anything, you end up adding to it and adding to it and the reward is so great that you want more of it. I'll let Marie go into her share on that. But I feel passionate about that because I feel for people when they get overwhelmed and they can't see that starting point.

Mark Aitken [19:46] I think that's the point, the feeling of overwhelm and how you change that from being overwhelm and taking it to a place of restoration. I think what I've really connected with here, it's like micro-steps or baby steps in relation to making change, and you don't have to like change your whole life dramatically, but you can implement these micro-steps of change.

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [20:13] Definitely.

Marie Louise [20:14] Kerrie came up with a great, beautiful sentence, which was micro-miracles...

Mark Aitken [20:18] Love it.

Marie Louise [20:18] ...through her stuff that she did previously. It resonates so beautifully in this kind of scene, because they really do become micro-miracles as they accumulate, and it's beautifully shared by Kez, where she's framing up your week as a pre-meditator for doing the right step, or the step that serves your own heart. But it does require space to recognise, firstly, we can all feel like we're a mouse running on a little treadmill, and you don't know how to get off that treadmill. In a nurse's mind, or a frontline service mind, it might be having a mindset that time is poor. Well, the beautiful work that happens through...I just want to invite everyone to take a breath with us right now. We just might...ahh...take a breath. I'm taking a big deep breath and actually exhaling...[breathes]...and that little space of that breath, is the micro-miracle. When I choose to bring that into my life, whether it's in a conversation, or in a podcast, or whether it is in a difficult situation at work, it just really does bring that space alive. To be able to recalibrate and regenerate like you so beautifully said, Mark, because they are those micro-miracles, thanks Kez, they then accumulate to form the habits that then serve the organism of the body/mind, to self-perpetuate in a way that it serves the whole. That's quite a dynamic and powerful influx that we can all permeate into the world. But definitely, it does take that. Let's all do it again, because we can, and it's a breath...[breathes]. I'm a fan of that.

Mark Aitken [22:25] Me too.

Marie Louise [22:27] So micro-steps.

Mark Aitken [22:31] Thanks for sharing that, that's really timely and beautiful.

If you're on the frontline, and you're feeling a sense of overwhelm, one of those micro-miracles might just be something that could restore you, enable you a moment to pause, and have that micro-moment for yourself, in terms of a step towards restoration and restoring your health and wellbeing. So, a wonderful pearl of wisdom, thank you very much for sharing.

Now, as part of this podcast, we're going to link you to a wonderful blog that Marie has written called 'Attention Please'. I absolutely love the title! You'll be able to read the full blog as part of this podcast. I really connected with all of it, and love all of it, so if you were in two minds about reading it, hopefully you're not now! I've given it so much emphasis in terms of, there is so much in it that will support your health and wellbeing. But you state in the blog: 'Burnout is where chronic dates of stress have built up so much that the life force of joy and inspiration seem too far away to even feel familiar.' Now, this will resonate with a lot of nurses and midwives, because we hear from a lot of nurses and midwives that they do tip into burnout. Indeed, that has been part of my journey, that as part of my work, I experienced burnout. I've talked about this quite extensively and written about it. Several years ago, I actually may not have talked about it, because I guess I felt a sense of shame in relation to the fact that I wasn't able to cope at a certain point in my career. Now I see that as embracing vulnerability, and we're going to talk about that a bit. We'll point to the amazing Brené Brown when we do that. But what I'm really interested in your perspective in relation to nurses and midwives, if they feel burnt out, or if they feel like they're tipping into burnout, what can they do about it and how can they bring themselves back?

Marie Louise [25:00] You Google on the internet, 'How to deal with burnout.' There's a million how-tos, you know, but it's the overwhelm that is the burnout. That's, I suppose, the parallel that runs side by side, and then the how-to, how-to, oh, we're getting another 'how-to', and we're getting another how-to...Look, the how-tos are there, the overwhelm is there. And I can say another word of how-to, but it's to recognize that you are not in that alone. I know that you could be very familiar with this, Mark; when you are in overwhelm, and you're feeling that experience, you feel very isolated. You've walked the world dynamically, in your own strength...where you're thinking that it's your own strength.

But the beautiful thing is, when I really sit in that vulnerability, which Brené does emphasize so beautifully, the space of feeling connected and that I'm not a bad person if I reach out for help, I am not weak, I'm actually opening up to that courage. That beautiful sense of courage, where I ask someone, "Hey, man, I'm not doing all that well today." When I was writing that blog, I was thinking, isn't it incredible? I love doing things for other people. I love it. I get so much joy out of it, and being there for someone in their dark moment. There's as much receiving as giving. Yeah, that real sense of receiving and giving.

So, remember that when someone else feels bad, you're actually allowing someone else to walk into their real sense of worthiness. It's a really beautiful parallel. If I express vulnerability, someone can come along and open up their heart even more, and it just adds more juice to the world. So you're doing someone else a favor by asking someone else for help, you know? We forget that, and we forget that we're not in it alone. I am not a mother without having a son. I'm not a sister without [having] one. We forget that, but how? Well, that's the decision and the power of the person that is vulnerable. We see someone who's vulnerable is weak, but that's no, no, no, no! That is not true. It is so not true. It is that you have what it takes. Sharing a life with someone and asking for help is a perfect first step. But the hows and the whos, there's a whole list of those things. Making it happen is up to the person really, to get off that little treadmill that just keeps on spinning into overwhelm.

Mark Aitken [28:09] Wonderful wisdom, thank you, Marie. I guess now I've talked about Brené Brown and pointed to her inspiration. I'll quote her as you quote her in the blog. Brené says in 'Rising Strong,' as you quote in your blog, that "Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage." Wow. I mean, no wonder Brené is popular throughout the world, because that's just really beautiful.

Marie Louise [28:52] Yeah.

Mark Aitken [28:53] Could you talk about that a bit more in relation to nurses and midwives actually reaching out for support? Because in the blog, you also say, 'Ask for support.' It's almost like a call to action to nurses and midwives, 'Ask for support.' Brené speaks about that in relation to vulnerability, and that being courage. So if I'm a nurse or a midwife, or a student listening to this podcast, and I'm feeling quite alone, isolated and vulnerable, what would you say to them about reaching out and asking for support if they feel that the world is so dark that they really don't have capacity to do that?

Marie Louise [29:38] The process of anything is firstly, to take a breath. In that overwhelm, we stop breathing, there's a little dark rabbit hole that just keeps on going down. But when I take a breath and really engage with my body, I'm available to actually start to listen to the body, and the body will direct it to maybe speak. Speaking is maybe not something that is very easy to do. That's where the word courage comes in, in that space of vulnerability, the reflex is to be silent. But the courage is to speak. Even though the speaking might come as, "I'm really looking for some type of help. Do you know anything? Or are you looking for anything?" But the invitation first and foremost is to take a breath into that space that maybe sits over your heart, or sits in your gut, or the angst that sits there.

Then, just in a micro-moment, pick up the phone, or in that moment of space, talk to a friend. You've got this niggling voice that sits inside you that really is talking to you. But that cloud of fog over the lens of weight, of stress, doesn't allow us to hear it. But the space of the breath allows us to hear it a little bit more deeply. That is where the courage is. Because if you've always been a person that has a shield and doesn't show anyone that you might be a little bit shaky today, well, that becomes your norm. Being outside our normal, stretching our norm a little bit, is where we're courageous. Hence the vulnerability. Throughout humanity, we haven't exposed our sense of vulnerability to the world, previously. So it is standing at the front line and saying, "Well, actually, I am a little bit vulnerable and I'm being okay with it." So yeah, definitely first step is taking a breath, and then the next...we'll see what rises after that.

Mark Aitken [31:57] Thank you. In the blog, you also say it's important to learn to say no. I've talked about that fairly recently, in a Facebook Live with The Nurse Break, when Jackson—the inspirational Jackson Heilberg!—asked me what I would say to my younger self. I said, “I would say learn to say ‘No’.” Because many people in the care and service of others are 'Yes' people. Why did you actually say that, Marie, in the blog, the importance of saying no?

Marie Louise [32:32] [Laughs] I mean, I think everyone can sit there and ask the questions now, "How often do you say no to others? But you say no to yourself all the time? You know, you don't say no, you say yes to others. But you don't say yes to yourself." It's a really interesting thing. So I go, okay, why don't we play with saying no to others, but we're actually looking at where we say no to ourselves. As a reflection process, it's fabulous to maybe engage in that, to have a look, because how often do you say no to your own desires? How often is it that you say no to your self-care? But a real flip is to learn how to say yes to yourself, and more "No" to others.

Now, people can think that you're running into a world of selfishness, haha. But that's a funny bit that rises is that you actually end up being more selfless. Because the selfishness, it's just being more in harmony [with] both the inner and outer worlds. The interrelationships we're having with the world, and our inner relationship we're having with ourselves. When that is in balance, well, then your body/mind will show up to be the best version it can be right now.

It's out of balance for many who have hit the pivotal process of chronic stress, and stress, and all of those places, which really do filter the lens of joy, happiness and all that kind of stuff. So saying no to others, is where you're standing in your skin, and you take your breath, and you go, "Does this really serve me? Have I looked after myself today?" Because we will forever say yes to people throwing questions. "Can you work a double? Can you extend your shift?" Can you do all of the things that you're expected to do without even having any space to breathe? It's essential care.

The government are going on about essential services, but essential care is self-care. That breath is what is required. How are you going to do that? What would it mean to you to show up with more spaciousness around you. How cool would it be? Ask yourself those core questions. Like, wow, how cool would it be? What would my life look like if I could show up to it, and really choose what I say yes to what I say no to? Unashamedly! Yeah, it's beautiful.

You spoke of shame before, Mark, and shame has a real...it's one of the densest energies in your body/mind system. It can really fold us into a little carcass that doesn't allow us to get out of bed. It can be triggered by many things, and stress, chronic stress, is a perfect partner to shame. They're on a self-perpetuating model. The stress will accumulate those ignitions of even ancestral shame. It points at all of those things in the system. So it's interesting. Be kind to it. That's where that beautiful parallel of engaging in practices, like within System of Self, where you really engaging in the compassion element in your own body/mind, the self-love processes. Now, they might [say] "I haven't got time for all that woo-woo," whatever it is. But let me tell you, it's essential care. It comes back to essential care. Which do you have anything to add to that, Kez, in regards to Mark's direction?

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [36:39] No, I think that's all great. Beautifully shared, Marie. I'll just say one thing [inaudible] overwhelm and asking for support. I'd really like to invite anyone who's listening that is feeling overwhelmed and wants to ask for support, that doesn't know how or what they're asking...I think often people in overwhelm are so overwhelmed! They don't even know what they need to ask for the support. I'd just like to invite the idea that you don't have to know what you're asking. It's just taking that action of making that phone call, whether it's to Nurse & Midwife Support, or a friend, or a family member, or a colleague, and simply saying, "I feel I need support." That can open the conversation. It can be just that, "I feel I need support." That really simple wording. If you can get to that space of just being able to say those few words, after that the rest will unfold. It's just that very first step of taking that action. That's probably the only practical thing I'd say. The overwhelm can be often that the action isn't taken, because they don't know what they're asking or don't want to share too much information. That's all okay, just to take the step of putting yourself out there as the very first thing.

Mark Aitken [38:02] Absolutely Kerrie, I'd really like to reiterate that. If you don't know what is wrong, and you're trying to work it out, that is exactly where Nurse and Midwife Support can come in and support you. Sometimes in talking to somebody who has your back, who is a nurse and a midwife and understands the world that you live in, then the process of talking that through can help you work out what type of support you need. So get in touch: 1800-667-877, no matter where you are in Australia, 24/7.

Thanks very much for that incredible wisdom. Now you've developed this new system called 'ABC', could you shed a bit of light on that, please?

Marie Louise [38:50] I think we've definitely brought it into practice right here, right now, today with our breath. But it's bringing our tool of awareness, breath, then choice. When we practice certain things, when we are non-reactive, we're enabling it to come alive when we're in the action of life. So; when we're on the ward, when we are speaking with a family member, when we are in conversations with people, it's actually that I become aware of my body/mind system, then I take a breath and then I have the power of choice. If I practice the ABC, I become aware of my environment. I take a breath, then I have the power of choice to move forward.

Within Evolve Yourself Institute's ideal world we'd like to see these types of preventative processes and activations within the culture, so we don't have to walk into the face of chronic stress, and dis-ease, where people are overwhelmed and fearful of asking for help. Ideally, we would like these types of embodied practices within this culture itself. We sit down and we say, what is ABC? I become aware of a certain tendency, it could be a thought, feeling or sense, or conversation, or life experience. It's something maybe I've reflected upon, and I want to break the habit of. I become aware of myself, doing what I'm doing. And I'm like, Oh! I take a breath. I might have to take five breaths.

Sometimes you're in fairly stressful conversations that require more space. But as soon as I become aware, I am choosing that experience. That's the difference, when you're living a conscious life of choice, then you start to design the life you're experiencing. Sometimes we're on a reflex of experience, where you don't know why you're at the fridge, but you're at the fridge. You're at the fridge, you're opening the fridge door, and you're on a reflex. But as soon as I become aware that I'm at the fridge, I take a breath, and then I have the space to be in the power of choice over the life that I'm experiencing. The same with those crazy thoughts that we might have about the future, worrying about the future. We might be in a downward spiral of thoughts, that is self-debilitating, and we catch ourselves in awareness in those thoughts. Worried about our children, or whatever we're worried about. Then we come with that awareness—we are aware we're in the thoughts—we take the breath, then we have the power of choice as to whether I want to feed that any further.

Now, just activating the ABC approach in micro moments throughout your day, you're enabling a rewire, reboot, and I suppose a redesign of the life that you seek. Because soon that cognitive shift within your body/mind system enables another path in your own life direction. It's a snappy little thing, ABC, and the app processes within any of our programs. We support those processes to become alive in the ABC. So I can say I'm going to do ABC, but there's certain things you want to become aware of using the tool of reflection. Where do you want to go in your life? What are you doing in your life that you're not fulfilled with, or how you want to shift those tendencies that aren't serving you? So it is really the ABC, is there anything you want to add to the ABC there, Kez?

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [42:58] No, that was beautifully shared, Marie. I know Mark is going to be sharing a resource...we’ve got a resource for Nurse and Midwife Support to share on a little cheat-sheet for the ABC. It is just such a great tool, Mark. In our education, one of our points of difference and mastery is delivering complex systems and concepts and tools, simply. But we do have a very rich education, and something that’s very tangible and can be taken away is the ABC, which is a great practical tool and experience that is easily shared amongst individuals. You can share with others your experience, and that opens a doorway for more curiousity, which is lovely for people. No, I think you covered it really nicely, Marie. It’s great. I’m a big fan.

Mark Aitken [43:54] I’m a big fan too, as you know. Look, I could talk to you both all day, because you’re so inspirational, and this stuff is very important for nurses and midwives, but we’ve come to the end of the podcast. Now, dear listener, I really want you to read the blog that Marie has written, because it is just so useful and engaging. If you don’t mind, Marie, I need to end with a quote from your blog, ‘Attention please! You are worthy of attention. Ask for support, learn to say YES to yourself, and NO to others, discover the tools that flush away the impact of stress, connect with environments that are in harmony and be unapologetic in your self-care.’ Wow. I mean, that is just such an important statement. Is there anything you’d like to add to that?

Marie Louise [44:50] Be curious about your innate joy. Just really be curious about that. It’s available. And your intuition is definitely worth listening to, because you have all of the knowledge you need, but it’s also giving yourself space to realise that. I think that’s really exciting for people to maybe say yes to!

Mark Aitken [45:18] Thank you. Kerrie, anything you’d like to add?

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [45:20] You know what? I will, Mark. We would love to see more hospitals embracing what we do for their people. When you have a top-down approach, it really is infectious. When your leaders are leading the way, it has so much power in that shift. Obviously, the past couple of years, since we spoke, Mark, I did mention this before...we have developed an incredible framework that goes into hospitals. It’s designed to be done a few different ways, but it can be a ward at a time. The results and outcomes we’ve seen in these wards are more joyful, compassionate and connected staff, and environments that have been overwhelmingly inspiring. That incorporates a myriad of friends from our online workshop on leadership, we have visual aids, a real culture shift. If I would say anything, if any leaders are listening to this podcast, be curious. Have a chat with us, and if it’s not us that you end up doing these things with, be curious, and see what else is out there. Because culture shift and prioritising self-care for our people, the nurses and midwives that are the people, that are the organisation, is so vital. I’d like to see more of that. That’s all I have to say there, Mark.

Mark Aitken [46:46] Thank you so much. Thank you. Well I would like t-shirts, please. ‘Have I looked after myself today?’

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [46:55] That’s great.

Mark Aitken [46:56] Please join us in becoming health and wellbeing and self-care activists, because we’re on a quiet crusade and a mission! So come join us, either at Nurse and Midwife Support, 1800-667-877, or Evolve Yourself Institute! Can you give the contact details again please Kerrie?

Kerrie Otto de Grancy [47:20] Sure. We’re eyi.global...that’s eyi.global. Nice and simple. That’s our website, you’ll be able to find us on social media via eyi.global as well.

Mark Aitken [47:32] Thanks very much, Marie and Kerrie. As always, you’ve been wonderful guests. I’m going to have you back, definitely. Like, you’d be regular guests, I could speak to you both every day! If you’ve listened to this, we hope you’ve found this podcast useful. Please share it with others, because we know that there’s many nurses, midwives and students out there who need the wisdom of this information and will benefit from it. So look after yourselves, and each other, and we’ll speak to you next time. Your Health Matters.