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P.A.V.E.™ Your Road to Wellness
By Caterina Spinaris
Published: 05/11/2009

Happywomen About the author: Caterina Spinaris Tudor, Ph.D., is the founding Director of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach (DWCO) and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Colorado. The mission of DWCO (www.desertwaters.com) is to increase the occupational, personal and family well-being of staff of all disciplines within the corrections profession.

There are four areas that are pillars for corrections staff’s wellness. These involve Processing the emotional impact of the job, finding Antidotes to workrelated stressors, having a Vision for their life, and giving Encouragement to themselves and others.

Processing: Emotional processing refers to “digesting” and getting past stressful life events. Like milk is processed to cheese and peanuts to peanut butter, processing converts events and their emotional impact to lessons learned and “filed” memories that are no longer acutely disturbing. Such processing can reduce depression, acting out behaviors, and Corrections Fatigue.

Processing requires awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, intentions and urges. It also involves willingness and determination to examine one’s inner life. Processing is not for the faint of heart, as being honest with ourselves and experiencing emotional discomfort take courage. It is much easier to escape through addictive behaviors or attempts to make others miserable.

The most common means of processing involve writing or talking to trusted others—family members, friends, coworkers, professionals, or even your God.

Antidotes: Wikipedia defines an antidote as a counterdose, a substance which can counteract a form of poisoning. If bitten by a rattle snake, you need the antidote of rattle snake anti-venom. What work-related negative influences do you need to counter, to neutralize to remain well? Getting enough sleep and having a meaningful and lovefilled life outside of work are key antidotes for corrections workers. Having someone you can confide in is also essential. Being outdoors in the beauty of nature refreshes your spirit. Working out in moderation de-stresses your body. Engaging in enjoyable hobbies and other activities, such as volunteering, refuels your soul. List the antidotes that work for you. Then put them to practice.

Vision: Research shows that having a vision—a purpose to get out of bed in the morning—boosts health. Vision guides how you invest your life, how you impact others, and what legacy you want to leave behind. Seeing yourself as part of a bigger picture and going beyond your narrow existence to embrace the welfare of others pumps you full of life.

How do you come up with a vision for your life? Start by asking yourself what principles you value dearly, what causes you are passionate about and what you sense your natural talents are. Then start thinking of ways to uphold those principles and to promote those causes using your talents.

Encouragement: This practice is about “speaking life” to self and others. Encouragement de-stresses and creates a positive atmosphere around the encourager. To encourage yourself, act like a good parent or a good coach toward yourself. Identify your abilities and strong points. Acknowledge any progress you make. Point out to yourself a job well done. Remind yourself that mistakes are learning opportunities. Speak words of life to others as well. Tell them about their strengths and improvements. Consistent encouragement is energizing. It can bring out the best in people. It causes positive people to be attracted to you and so form a supportive community around you, which contributes both to your well-being and theirs.

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