Meet Niki Barr P.h.D.: Niki Barr, Ph.D. founded a pioneering psychotherapy practice dedicated to working with cancer patients in all stages of cancer as well as with the patient’s spouse or partner, children, family members, caregivers, and friends in weekly, joint or individual psychotherapy sessions.
Over the course of her practice, Dr. Barr has developed many insights, strategies, and tools for achieving emotional well being whether as a patient with cancer or as a family member, caregiver, or friend of the patient. She is now preparing to share her many discoveries through her forthcoming book –Emotional Wellness: The Other Half of Treating Cancer.
Dr. Barr is a dynamic and popular speaker with audiences of cancer patients and their loved ones. Additionally, she speaks to audiences of oncologists, oncology nurses, patient navigators, psychotherapists, psychologists, social workers and caregivers focused on how to best deal with emotions cancer patients experience. Currently, she is planning and preparing a series of personally led seminars and workshops nationally and internationally, both online and in-person.
Capturing Emotional WellBeing Within Life and Cancer: The Three C’s
Whether caregiver or cancer patient, family member or friend, it is an understatement that cancer tends to interfere with emotional wellbeing. How can you feel wellbeing when on so many levels life is scattered with scare, worry, overwhelm, sadness, or whatever else you’re feeling?
In my psychotherapy experience, emotional wellbeing has to be chosen, is an intention, and a decision made on your part to feel wellbeing feelings. If you decided to agree, what would emotional wellbeing be for you? How would you know you have wellbeing? What would someone observe in you that said, this one, indeed has emotional wellbeing? Identifying what emotional wellbeing is for you is a great starting point.
Next, consider three things you could do right now to empower emotional wellbeing. To keep things simple, I’m calling these the three C’s. They are Calm, Check in, Choose.
Bringing in Calm
Do you have a good strategy to bring in feeling calm when you don’t feel calm? People meditate, have a yoga practice, take a walk, visualize a beautiful place, listen to music, or something else. Either way, it’s essential to lean into feeling calm when you want to.
One of the quickest ways to bring in calm is to change your breathing pattern. When you’re not calm, you will probably notice light, staccato, shallow breaths. These serve to bring more of the same breaths, quite opposite than calm ones.
Calm breaths are long, slow, rhythmic take your time breaths. These are the no hurry kind, often breathing for the joy of breathing. When you breathe like this calm comes quickly.
After you notice you’re bringing in calm breaths, check in with yourself. “How am I doing? How am I feeling? What would be helpful to me right now?
For example, upon checking in you learn,
I’m mad she hasn’t brought me….
I am OK
I want to….
Based on what you learned from checking in, what could you choose to do now to enhance wellbeing?
I’m hungry…..I think I will heat up some soup
I’m tired….I will take a nap or rest
I’m mad she hasn’t brought me….I will ask her to please bring me whatever it is
I am OK….no action needed
I want to….call my friend
I’d like to…paint a picture, listen to a book on tape, watch a movie, cuddle with my pet
Bringing Calm, Checking in, Choosing to are three actions you can take right now to power up emotional wellbeing. The three C’s seem to work best if used in this particular one, two, three order. Try it out. Tell me what you think.
What to you like about the three C’s? What did you find helpful with this emotional wellbeing exercise?