Taking Care

It is hard to help others if we get into trouble ourselves.  We in the people-helping business are like athletes.  We accept that we deal with challenge and we know that stress can make us stronger. We push ourselves to do more, better, faster … and we expose ourselves to injury.

There is no shame or weakness in practicing safe stress.  It is both smart and practical.  There is no shame or weakness in getting injured and doing healthy healing.  It is both wise and practical.   We hope this series of articles will help.

From Randy Weekes

Welcome to CANADEM Notes, a newsletter that explores the challenges and opportunities that come with working in new countries and cultures.  CANADEM is committed to doing everything we can to support you in your international work.  That includes helping you prepare for, understand and cope with the stresses that come with challenging missions.


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Practising Safe Stress

I lay in a hospital bed, just months after I started my first international job.  I had swollen joints, blurred eyes, high fevers and no diagnosis.  Doctors didn’t know what was wrong.  Four weeks later I was better – and by then knew what had happened.  The lesson was one of

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The Incredible Shrinking Hippocampus

It didn’t feel good.  Worry was a feeling in my chest and it woke me up at night.  Fear made my heart pound, my ears ring and my voice go funny.  Depression pulled my energy plug and made it hard to imagine being in any other state.

Jolts of fear are fine.

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The road to burnout is paved with good intentions

We joined the “Let’s make the world a better place” club to help other people. We didn’t join to get hurt. And many of us, at some point in our career, have risked burning out. Why does this happen?

We began with enthusiasm and a feeling of being lucky to have this

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The Stress of Nice New Places

It wasn’t a war zone.  It wasn’t a hardship post.  The power stayed on, the food was delicious.  Beyond unpredictable drivers and the occasional underpaid cop there was nothing to complain about.

And a few months after arriving I longed, quietly, for home.

Well okay.  It wasn’t perfect.  The language was different, and

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Travel Smart

This is the fourth in the series of the CANADEM Notes on managing stress as an international worker.

And it is a copy.  I confess to it.

The goal of CANADEM Notes is to educate and empower.  One of the ways we do this is to guide you to good resources.  An agency

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When Trauma Happens to Someone we Know

It was a nice afternoon.  Quiet.  People were finishing their day’s work and planning their evenings.  The drive home and a bit of shopping and time with friends lay ahead.  Then the world disappeared in an explosion.

One international worker was killed. Another survived, seriously wounded.  A year later she shows off

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If bad things happen – to me

It will happen to some of us.  In a long career away from home something that causes physical or emotional injury – or creates the fear that we will be killed or hurt – may happen to us or to someone we know.

The injury might not be direct.  Those of us

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COMING HOME: Understanding the Challenge

When I ask whether going on an international mission or returning home is more challenging, most people say that coming back is harder.   That has been true for me.  I have had some tough re-entries. It has sometimes taken me a long time to feel “normal” again and to decide how

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Coming Home: Process the past… Plan the future

When I came back from my first international placement, I was stuck for many, many months.  I couldn’t figure out where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do.  Bless my grandmother.  I took advantage of her hospitality for an uncomfortably long time.

I wasn’t alone in my uncertainties.  Many

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PTSD Support – with compassion and corny humour

Dr. Dee Rajska is a Canadian clinical psychologist who has a blog and website directed towards helping military service personnel manage and recover from the symptoms of PTSD.

The underlying advice is valuable for all of us, whether it is we or someone we know who has PTSD, and whatever the source

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