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The Sneaky Side-Effects of Caring

July 22, 2017 Leave a comment

burnout2  Compassion Fatigue has been known by many names including burnout, but no matter what it is called it isn’t something that happens all at once. We have good days and bad days. That’s normal.

Eventually, though, we find ourselves edging dangerously close to a meltdown over a situation that would have been simply a mild irritation not that long ago. The future looks bleak and our responsibilities endless. This is a danger point.

How do you spot and extinguish the small fires that, left smoldering, can eventually lead to burnout? What do you do if you already feel like you are running on empty?

compassion fatigue2  The best approach, of course, is to take preventative action before Compassion Fatigue takes your knees out from under you.

One way to do that is to keep a log or a diary. How are you feeling on this particular day? And the next? And the next? By making a few notes each day in a journal, or on the computer, you may be able to look back and see a pattern. You  will become more aware of your own moods, actions and reactions, and you may be able to recognize and prevent Compassion Fatigue.

Many people go day to day without questioning why they feel the way they do. It can be more productive to practice some self-awareness. Journaling helps. The act of writing often relieves your stress.

If we learn to know ourselves better, we will be more likely to catch signs that we are being drawn toward a negative or hopeless mindset, and convince us to seek help before we’ve gone over the edge. Seeing a mental health professional can also be beneficial, even if that seems a very scary prospect.

What are some signs that Compassion Fatigue could be present or imminent?

  1. You experience unrelenting fatigue: If you are constantly tired without an explanation (such as too much physical activity), you should see your physician. But if you are quite sure that the cause of your nearly constant fatigue stems from the challenges of care giving, then you are possibly already being affected by Compassion Fatigue.
  2. You get sick more frequently: Constant minor illness can be a sign that you have had enough. You catch colds frequently, when you never used to. Your colds repeatedly turn into secondary bacterial infections. You get headaches, flu and other illnesses more often than you have in the past. If this is your pattern, your immune system may be compromised by fatigue or depression. Your body could be telling you to make some changes.
  3. You lose your temper more often: If you find yourself sniping at everyone—from your husband/colleagues/managers to the cashier who messed up your change—you may have gone beyond your personal capacity to handle stress. (My personal one; was not just getting irate with the recorded messages, while being kept on hold, but answering them back and even shouting at them!)  If you were once an easy going person, this kind of behavior is especially alarming. Even if you have always been a bit volatile, you need to examine your behavior to see if you have gone over the top. It’s not fair to you, your family, or your care receiver if you are so tightly wound that you cannot be civil, let alone caring.
  4. You begin withdrawing from your loved ones: Conversely, you may find yourself pulling inward. You don’t want to see friends, family members or anyone else, even if you could find the time. You don’t complain about your life being taken over by care giving, but you don’t find any joy in life either. You just put one foot in front of the other, gaze focused on the ground. You don’t want to be bothered by people, even those you like or love.
  5. You have trouble finding happiness: You may start to find less and less joy in things that once made you happy. (This one was a biggie for me).  There is none, or very little joy/happiness/excitement and laughter in your life. I even saw the lack of sparkle in my eyes, on the rare occasions I took any notice of myself in a mirror and even rarer occasion of a photo of myself, even with a smile; there was a sad/seriousness about me. A lack of spontaneity, or any interest in being in a happy environment. Even in a happy social location, you can be isolated and seem unapproachable.
  6. You become more prone to accidents: It seems that every time you do something, you inadvertently hurt yourself; walk into door frames, catch you knees on coffee tables. You break a glass in the kitchen and cut your hand picking up pieces. You have minor bumps while driving, even bumping into bollards in the car park, or hitting the kerb. It’s entirely possible that you are so distracted and worn out that you can’t concentrate on what you are doing, thus you make mistakes that can cause injury. (Sometimes, not only to yourself.)
  7. You stop seeking information and knowledge: You were involved in professional development, took an interest in various illnesses/conditions. Now, everything patients do irritates you to the point that you struggle to be kind and you no longer seek information and knowledge. You do what you have to do, but your heart isn’t in it.
  8. Caring for yourself doesn’t seem worthwhile: Small gifts to yourself do not seem worth the trouble. Need a fresh haircut? Why bother. The only people who see you are your family/colleagues and your care receivers. A gift certificate for a massage from a well-meaning friend? You don’t get around to scheduling the appointment. It’s just too much trouble.

If you are experiencing many, or all of these symptoms; you may already be well into the Compassion Fatigue downward spiral. It’s possible that you could need professional help to guide you back to emotional health.

At the very least, you should make changes in your life. Even if you see that only a few of these symptoms of Compassion Fatigue apply to you, it’s time to start adjusting yourself before the situation gets worse.

It’s time to get help with your own care. If you are emotionally at the breaking point, or approaching it, you are vulnerable, and so are those around you. The point is, you must take action – no guilt, or excuses allowed. Your care for yourself is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

Linda Sage

Helping compassionate people care for themselves.

http://www.lindasage.com

Life’s Survivors

July 14, 2017 Leave a comment

When times get tough, some people fold and some are made even stronger. Did you ever wonder why some people seem to be able to handle life better than others? Everyone likes to think that they have what it takes to survive adversity and tough times, but when the chips are down, some of us definitely do better than others.
 achieverThe real survivors in life (not the participants in the “reality” survivor TV shows that only seem to bring out the worst in human behaviour) have developed personalities that allow them more options. They also have a strong and clear intention to survive, and to do it in good shape. When problems or setbacks occur, they don’t waste time complaining and they don’t dwell on the past or what they’ve lost. Instead, their energies are focused on getting things to turn out well.

Survivors believe that, no matter what happens to them, they are the ones who are in charge of their destinies. They don’t get mad at the world for not treating them better. And they do have an extensive menu of behaviours they can choose from, depending on the situation. In other words, survivors are option thinkers with a growth mindset, instead of black and white, either/or thinkers who get by with a fixed mindset.

get up again  Survivors also have a wonderful ability to laugh at adversity because they know that even if they lose everything else, they will still have themselves. People with survivor personalities can walk confidently into the unknown because they expect to find a way to make things work out.

So, if you want to be a true survivor, try focusing your attention less on safety and security and more on developing positive beliefs and expectations, built on a firm foundation of reinforced self-esteem.

Here’s to your success
Linda Sage
Helping compassionate people, care for themselves.

The Crippling Force of Emotional Baggage


again1  Building a business, can be crippling and intimidating…yet so fulfilling.  Whether your company is a fresh start up or it sits on the top floor in a gleaming global tower of success, you as CEO still have to be brave enough to deal with the crippling force of emotional baggage.

We all have to deal with our emotions.  Today’s CEO has exhilarating days of high yields and public acclamation.  Then, there are those days leaders get so low because they haven’t met projected goals, layoffs are impending and they find themselves pointing fingers and doubting themselves.

It’s like a crazy thrilling ride on a roller coaster. The ups and downs of running a business can have us walking the tightrope of management; confronting chaotic staff issues, dealing with demanding boards and submitting to intimidating financial regulations.

And that is just running the business…

I am leading a small coaching startup… and it can be just as daunting. Financial woes, course development and tech intimidation, and the constant search for clients often puts me in an emotional tailspin of worry, depression and fear.

Whether you’re the global CEO or the visionary of the small startup, we all have to deal with the emotional baggage that often weighs us down. We will never be as successful as we can be, if we don’t. We must stop putting on brave faces as we meander towards the path of success. Each of us must make the effort to confront those emotional “suitcases” that weight us down and unpack them.

what mattersSo let’s find some courage and at least deal with the Big Four (i.e., fear, guilt anger and depression,). If we can “conquer” these four, we have a good head start. And we can easily push through the rest. (I’m telling you, everything else is connected with these four…they just come in a different package!)

  1. Confront Your Fears

What are you afraid of?  Whatever it is, confront it and press past it.  Fear is so crippling.  We get all excited about a project and when the moment comes that you have to act,  you are paralyzed by fear to move forward.  Your palms get sweaty, your heart beats fast and your legs feel like lead pipes.  You can’t move. You’ve lost your momentum and you find yourself postponing important calendar dates, because you are paralyzed by fear.  My advice to you, confront it and press past it.  Fear comes in many forms, but you can’t allow it to stop you from moving forward.  Admit that you are afraid and do it anyway.  My personal adage…DO IT SCARED! You will find that once you acknowledge your fear and you act ANYWAY, you realize it really wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be.

  1. Don’t Allow Guilt to Destroy You

So you did that dastardly thing and the guilt is eating you from the inside out.  My advice to you, go and apologize (whether they hear you or not) and move on.  But going to apologize is hardly the issue. It is acknowledging the wrong doing and dealing with yourself.  That often means you have to take a good hard look at yourself and deal with who you REALLY are.  And that can be pretty difficult.  Whatever you did, can you fix it? Did you lie, cheat, betray, steal, manipulate, scorn, break or destroy anyone? (That was a short list, but feel free to enlist your own guilty issue!)

Learn from your actions and vow never to do it again.  Catch yourself when you feel the urge…and wipe away those feelings of guilt.

Then there is me. I was not present when my 17 year old daughter passed away from cancer. After her death, the guilt was overwhelming.  I couldn’t apologize to her because she was gone.  But I talked to her as if she was alive one day, and said I was sorry and then I let it go.  I was no longer going to let those feelings of guilt hold me hostage.  And you shouldn’t either. Do what you can to fix a situation, apologize and keep it moving.

  1. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Wrath.

Are you angry?  Has others let you down?  Are you mad at your actions and indecisiveness?  Has anger forced you to walk in unforgiveness and you now are embracing the spirit of retribution?  Anger will do that to you. What is even worse is when you are angry at yourself.  When this happens it is so easy to allow negative talk to cripple your momentum and sabotage your self-esteem. Scripture tells us, don’t let the sun go down on your anger.  In other words, do what you have to do today to resolve an issue so you can sleep in peace.  Find the courage to talk to those people who have offended or betrayed you.  And if they aren’t open, that is okay.  Just know you have done your job to confront the anger that is inside of you.  Now, you can move forward without anger contaminating your space and your spirit.

  1. Don’t Allow Depression to Swallow You Whole

Depression can take you to a dark place – so don’t let it.  We all have down days and those days can be shrouded with darkness. Depression is like a weight sitting on our chest, stunting our ability to breathe and even sleep. So you lost the bid…they told you no…or you even lost the company, well, all of those scenarios can throw you into the pit of depression.  For me, it was the loss of my daughter and it paralyzed me. I was so depressed that I wasn’t effective in hardly anything.  Days were dark, emotions were raging and I didn’t want to go on.  But by accessing my relationship with God and going to a deeper place of worship, I found the strength to confront my depression.  I pushed through it.  But know it took a while…but I didn’t do it alone. You shouldn’t either.  Find someone to talk to…a counselor, a pastor or a friend. Make the appointment and let it out.  And yes, cry if you have to, but don’t stay there.  Know that God has something for you to do. Through the work that you do, you can change the life of someone else.  Truth be told, God has something for you to do that will change your life as well.  So don’t allow the darkness to swallow you whole.  Come out of the shadows of depression, because there is work to be done.

So remember, emotional baggage can derail you.  Don’t let it.  Find the courage to confront anything that wants to stop your moving forward.  Be brave and see it for what it is…a weight that wants to weigh you down and stop you from your God given destiny.  Unpack every emotional suitcase that tries to take the journey with you.  If need be, throw a bookbag over your shoulder and be on your way.  Your future is waiting on you.

Melodie Boone/melodieboone.com

Melodie@melodieboone.com

Liberty Coaching and Consulting, LLC

 

 

Hate When That Happens


Guest Blog by Kathleen Greene

achiever    It was a great day. I was up early. I enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee. Successful morning routine. I was excited for the day and couldn’t wait to get started.

Work went well. Lots of creation going on. Good client calls. I can’t say that I handled all the crisis and drama, because there just wasn’t any that needed to be handled.

Even my evening went well. Dinner. Laundry. Workout. Journal. In bed at a good time.

Awesome-Sauce. Total Awesome-Sauce.

Woke up the next morning, and guess what?

Hit a damn brick wall!

I ended up getting up late. I felt rushed all day. I would say that I had low energy, but that would imply that there was any energy at all to speak of – there wasn’t. The whole day was just kind of – off. Nothing really bad or ugly happened. There was just no energy. Like somehow all the good of the previous day burned off all my reserves.

This has never happened to you. Right?

LIAR!

burnout8  The truth is that we have all experienced low energy days. They happen. There isn’t any reason for us to be so tired, to feel so out of sorts. There is nothing wrong in the world, in our lives, or with us. It’s just a low energy day.

Who knows. Maybe the planets are just out of alignment!

Recently it happened to me, as I said before. After a few hours, I gave up on deep tasks. I tried to power through, like we all do. But after a while I gave that up. I cut my workout back. And I even let myself have a couple of Oreos.

Oh hell – Some days you just need comfort over commitment!

The worst part is: I began to doubt myself. Was something wrong? Was I doing something wrong? Was it a bipolar low and I missed the signs?

It was none of those things. It was just low energy – which does happen. We can deplete our energy, and then we need to recharge. Like technology, sometimes we just need to reboot the system.

So, how do you “control alt delete”, and reboot?

feet up   This is when self-care is absolutely critical to your emotional survival. Take a nap. Listen to music. Color in those adult coloring books – or steal from your kids. Binge watch Netflix. A luxurious soaking bathtub – or just a long, hot shower with a scented body wash – depending on your obligations. Call a friend and go goof on people at the mall, or just go get a cup of coffee and laugh.

You need to do, on those low energy days, whatever you need in order to recharge your battery.

Also, next time, pay attention. When does the low happen? Try to keep track, if you can. This is so you can learn your natural rhythm. We all have a natural rhythm. It does change from time to time, but stays consistent for the most part.

It doesn’t matter what your rhythm is. It’s YOUR rhythm. It might be a high day, then a low day. Or maybe two high days and a low day. Or a high day and two low days. Or three days up and one day down.

It’s YOUR rhythm. Learn it. Embrace it. And then you can plan around it, doing heavier tasks on higher energy days, and lower tasks on lower energy days.

This way, when you have a low day – next time – you won’t feel crazy.

I mean, I’m crazy. But I’m not crazy. You know?

No one wants to feel crazy. Well, we don’t mind when we “feel” crazy, just as long as we don’t “look” crazy. Right?

I hate when that happens.

 

Kathleen Greene is an Award-Winning Author, Speaker, and Life Coach. She specializes in helping women (and men) build or rebuild their confidence after a major life shift, like divorce, job change, or empty nesting. She also works with amazing women (and men) who are tired of the way things are and they want to make a major shift in their life. She is the proud momma of a tortoise cat named Tater Tot. She is obsessed with coffee, and Oreos. And she is about to release her first e-book/course. You can find her and her blog at www.kathleengreene.com . You can also find her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/KathleenEGreene .