The ILS De-Stress

As the supervisor of SaintA’s Independent Living Services programming, I’ve often been asked, “Are you crazy?” The question arises following my explanation of what ILS is all about. I ponder the inquiry and respond, “a little bit crazy, yep.” I smile as I say this, acknowledging the sense of humor one must have to do this job. Those inquiring parents who have one or two young adults at home, usually proclaim, “I have a hard enough time with one. You’re talking 44?”

Jane Doolan
Jane Doolan

Imagine being part of a team that is challenged to lead 44 young adults, ages 18-24, who are alumni of the foster care system to healthy, productive adulthood. It can only be described as experiencing the paradox of pain and pleasure all at once, each and every day. It’s starting each day not having a clue as to how and when your day will end, hoping the day concludes “without incident.” Our youth, our agency, our community challenge us to steer the course, with steady hands, through the ups and downs of young adult transitioning.

Along the way, I might have heard the phrase, “you can’t give what you don’t have.” It’s an agency mantra that supports the concept of caregiver capacity from the perspective of life coach Juli Alvarado. Thus, the ILS department is always open to “having,” that is finding ways to stop and breathe, have a few laughs, support each other, put the drama in perspective, grab some lunch together. We even tried yoga a few times!

We recently decided to step it up a notch. A few of us attended a very helpful two-hour evening workshop at Alverno College. “Simple Self-Care Practices for Stress” was taught by Marjorie Wilbur, MS, adjunct supervisor at the Spiritual Direction Preparation Program in LaCrosse. Her practices originate from the Capacitar International model of healing practiced in over 35 countries with people who have experienced traumatic stresses. We thought, “Hey, if it’s good for the rest of the world, it’s good for us.” And we were not disappointed.

Throughout the class we learned a number of ways to de-stress, all relative to SaintA’s mission of trauma informed care practice. The Capacitar model assists in relieving residual trauma through the body. In two hours time, we learned about breath work/body scan, simple tai chi movements, finger hold meditation, energy holds one can practice alone or with a partner, Pal Dan Gum stretching exercises, and finally the Emotional Freedom Technique, which utilizes self-tapping at selected acupressure points of the head and upper body.

The class concluded with a nod to each other of “Namaste,” an Asian/Hindu way of greeting or parting that means “I honor the divine in you.” The dozen or so members of the class expressed feelings of peace, calm and empowerment upon departure.

As our team continues to find ways to practice caregiver capacity, we will be sure to include the techniques learned from the class, so that each new day we can begin with an open perspective and without judgment, diminishing residual shadows of trauma and hopefully get through the day “without incident!”

Interested in learning more about trauma informed care? Attend a community training session.


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