I’ve done many training programs for personal and professional development. Lately many of the programs I’m drawn to are quite intense because they are very large groups learning about working more skillfully with trauma. Also, the nature of on-site training programs often means that a lot of very powerful material is covered over a short period of time. This can easily lead me to feeling overwhelmed. A number of training programs I’ve attended lately have seen me leave early, sometimes in tears.
So, I’ve had to develop a strategy to keep myself safer. I’ve had to redefine what it means to successfully attend a training program. Here’s a list of things I try to do, and that you can do too, to help stay in choice and in our window of tolerance:
- Get the schedule ahead of time so you know what’s happening when and can plan your breaks.
- Let the organizers know your preferences for small groups.
- Decide ahead of time where your boundaries will be so that you’re not making decisions while you’re in overwhelm.
- Take breaks when you need them.
- Use resources of somatic self-compassion like hot drinks, delicious food, and comfortable seating arrangements.
- Wear comfortable clothes that support your self-esteem.
- Tell folks you trust about your stress and potential for overwhelm.
- Identify allies and lean on them when needed.
- Get plenty of rest, nutritious food, and water.
- Redefine success – maybe it’s leaving before you get into overwhelm, or managing to do one challenging thing in the day that you weren’t sure you could do, rather than seeing success as doing everything offered in a training.
- Move and stretch your body.
- Change your scenery during breaks when you can.
- Chunk your challenges where you can.
- Sit in the same seat each day if it helps you to feel safer; with your back to the wall if it helps you to feel safer; and at the back of the room if it helps you to feel safer.
- Bring in your own seating or extra props to support your physical comfort.
- Make a nest for yourself with objects, textures, and colors that feel soothing and comforting around you.
- Keep yourself company as much as you can through self-compassion and mindfulness practices.
- Know that you are not alone even if you feel you are the only one who needs to be taken care of so carefully – many people feel the same but don’t feel comfortable enough with vulnerability to express their distress.
- Remember to take any medicine you have that will relieve physical and emotional pain.
- Allow yourself to be special.
May we all get the most out of all the amazing training available. Maybe I’ll see you at an event soon!
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