Get Rid of Unending Fatigue with These Four Powerful Types of Rest

Resting is not about being unmotivated but rather it is one of the best self-care tools to rejuvenate and restore your energy. Healthcare workers and helpers are experiencing compassion fatigue, burnout and vicarious trauma at alarming rates. For this reason alone, rest is more important than ever. Remember, you are worthy of and deserve rest. The more you take care of you, the better you can help others. I will discuss four different types of rest and why you need to practice all of them.

Mental Rest

Our minds were created to think, this is just what the brain does. There is no way to stop your thoughts but you can choose which thoughts you will entertain. Too much thinking about what you should do, all or nothing thinking, or imaging the worst case scenario, can burn you out. When you notice these types of faulty thoughts, stop and refocus the mind on something neutral or positive.

Schedule short breaks throughout your day. Some ways to rest your mind are gazing out the window, going for a short walk or taking a few, conscious deep breaths.

Shut off your phone and social media shortly after dinner. Electronics can overstimulate the mind and cause sensory overload, especially to a mind that has been working overtime all day. Set a shut off schedule and keep to it.

Physical Rest

Are you pushing your body beyond its limits? Many empathic helpers do. Your body speaks to you in many ways through pain, tension and even illness. Learn to listen to your body’s signals and respond in a compassionate way to yourself.

Spend time relaxing and doing nothing. I know this feels lazy especially when you have so much to do but your physical body will thank you for it. If you are not getting adequate sleep, take a nap or lay down for fifteen to twenty minutes. During this time you can focus on your breath or listen to soothing music.

Emotional Rest

Emotional rest is essential for empathic helpers and artists, who people please. When your focus is outwardly directed on feelings, you can have a tendency to absorb too much energy from other people.

You need periods of downtime and solitude. Use this time to connect to your inner most feelings. Write in a journal or simply identify what you are feeling in this moment right now. Also, connect with emotionally supportive people, therapy or healers to help you restore your energy.

Spiritual Rest

Spiritual rest is important for those who connect to the world of spirit. Without proper clearing, protection and channeling techniques, an empathic helper can suffer.

Make time to meditate. Focus on all of those people who accept, love and support you unconditionally throughout your life. Take in this positive energy. Some other ways to restore are pondering about your life purpose, spending time in prayer, attending a silent retreat and walking amongst nature.

You may also be interested in 7 Simple Ways to Calm an Over Stimulated Mind or Important Information About How Your Senses Get Overloaded

What will you do to rest mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

We are Living in a Time of Trauma

Trauma can have a deep and lasting impact not only on the person who directly experiences it, but also for those around them. As a psychotherapist, I have worked with numerous clients processing and releasing trauma, for over seventeen years. The silver lining is, you can heal from trauma but you have to seek treatment for it.

We are Living in Times of Trauma (2)

We are living in traumatic times. No, I did not mean dramatic but traumatic. You may see some people acting out dramatically after experiencing unresolved trauma. In these instances, the body is saying “pay attention to me, something is not in balance.” An important distinction to remember is, drama is not always trauma.

Our current lives have the potential to expose you to trauma on a daily basis. You can witness a trauma simply by being on social media or scrolling through the news on your phone. How many times have you encountered a disturbing image which was difficult to let go of? It is challenging being a sensitive person in today’s world. This is why self-care, boundaries and support are essential.

Trauma symptoms- how many do you currently have?

Physically and Emotionally Reactive (Arousal symptoms)

  • On guard for danger (hyper vigilance)
  • Self-destructive or reckless behaviors
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Concentration problems
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Exaggerated startle response

Intrusive memories (intrusive symptoms)

  • Flashbacks- you see pictures of the traumatic event replay in your mind throughout the day, long after the trauma experience occurred.
  • Nightmares

Avoidance

  • Make efforts to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoid the places, activities or people that remind you of the event

Changes in your thoughts and mood

  • Feel distrustful of yourself, other people or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future, or feel you will not live long (a foreshortened future)
  • Not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty enjoying life or connecting with positive emotions
  • Feeling disconnected from others/life and numb

You may say, I have a lot of these symptoms but have never had a trauma event directly happen to me. Next, I will discuss three types of trauma. Out of these three types, two trauma reactions arise when you an outside of the direct trauma.

1.) Directly involved in a Trauma-  You are exposed to a catastrophic event. Some types of trauma involve being in combat, childhood physical, sexual or emotional abuse, sexual violence as an adult, physical assault, an accident, natural disasters, fires, sex trafficking, robbery, terrorist attacks, a shooting or an illness. 

2.)Vicarious Trauma also known as Compassion Fatigue- This type of trauma is the result of hearing other’s trauma stories and witnessing the pain, fear, and terror of the survivor. This can happen to counselors but also coaches who work with trauma. Self- care, awareness and professional support are critical tools for this line of work.

3.) Witness to Trauma- You saw or were in close proximity to a traumatic event happening to someone else. My husband and I witnessed a dating/domestic violence incident, while on vacation, to which we called 911. After the altercation, the woman followed the man as he walked away. This left me feeling unsettled. As we drove down a couple of streets, we saw a female officer talking to the woman involved. I don’t know if she pressed charges, if the couple will change or what will happen.

This uncertainty stayed with me for days until I processed it and decided to let it go. As a sensitive person, I felt many emotions attached to this event. I felt the danger in my own body, to which the man and woman were numbed to. I also felt their helplessness and stuck feelings. I acknowledged these feelings as not my own and released them. I know we did something in response and that is enough. The rest is now up to them.

When should you seek professional help from a licensed counselor? 

If you feel these symptoms are interfering with your daily life, seek help immediately, why wait? If your symptoms last beyond a month, acute stress disorder can become post traumatic stress disorder. Do not hesitate to reach out today, if you have thoughts of  suicide or of harming someone else. Treatment is available in every community.

You may also find this blog helpful: How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

Pick up Lisa’s FREE gift 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!  at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist, writing coach and the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals.  She helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways Expressive Arts Heal Unexpressed Pain

 “Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist.” 
― Eileen Miller, The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures: Autism Through Art

5 Ways Expressive Arts Heal Unexpressed Pain

Expressive art therapy combines creativity with psychotherapy. It feels fun, yet is a deep form of healing for people who can’t put their emotional pain into the spoken word. Creative methods help people process post traumatic stress, grief, and terminal or chronic medical conditions. It can help anyone decrease depression and anxiety. Expressive art therapy is most effective when the client has an interest in creativity and you work with a licensed psychotherapist, who has knowledge of expressive art therapy techniques.

What is expressive art?

Expressive art is any type of creative activity (painting, writing, singing, dancing) in which you experience a decrease in symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. Its purpose is to shift emotions, in order to process them. Unlike traditional art, expressive art it is not about making a pretty picture. Although, you can end up with a beautiful piece of art in the end. Here your focus is on the process, not the finished product.

5 Ways Expressive Arts Heal Unexpressed Pain

Art holds a space for transformation to take place. You are in control of how much you express and when. If the process feels too overwhelming, put the art aside. Together, with your therapist, you decide when to re-enter the work. The page, paper or room where art is created, holds the space for you without judgment, as a therapist does in any talk psychotherapy session. This safe place for healing, allows you to open up, connect, and accept the pain inside. When you allow yourself the space and freedom to express creatively, healing takes place no matter what type of art modality you choose.

Relaxes and opens you to new possibilities. Play is important for everyone, not just young kids. Expressive art gives you a chance to have fun and let go. Think back to a time, when you were caught up in the moment of creation. You experienced a sense of timelessness or an expanded sense of time. Afterwards, many of you asked, “Where did the time go?” You returned to this moment, renewed and refreshed. This type of surrendering to spirit is when the most healing happens.

Helps you process terminal and chronic illnesses. It is difficult to connect with emotions when you are in physical pain. No matter how ill you are, you have the power of your imagination. It is common to experience anxiety and depression with any form of illness, including chronic pain. “The Expressive Arts, including painting, sculpture, music, dance, and literature, can bring joy, pleasure, and laughter to patients and staff in medical settings, qualities often in short supply. Making art or hearing music reminds us that no matter how ill or busy we are, we can always tap into the magic of our imagination. This frees patients from being just “the cancer patient in bed 4,” passive with no power, to the person who has cancer who still also has an imagination, a creative spark. This spark can be utilized to tell her story, imagine her healing, aid in her recovery” (Heath, 2005).

Heals Trauma. After a tragic event, people feel overwhelmed. Their nervous system reacts in one of three ways; fight, flight or freeze mode, releasing various stress hormones. When these chemicals don’t reset after a trauma, it changes the actual physical structures in the brain. The good news is with treatment these structures can be restored. Creative arts helps clients who have adversity, process these unspeakable experiences and organize them within the brain. Art helps contain these emotions and break them down into mentally digestible pieces. People find healing by telling their story in a different way, which reduces trauma symptoms.

Contains the Devastation of Grief and Loss. Often after a death, it is difficult to put your experience into words. Art gives you a safe place to express all of your feelings after a loss; whether it is anger, sadness, bargaining, depression, or acceptance. This process is also helpful when facing denial, as it helps you take in a small portion of the pain to work through at a time. There is no judgement with art; no one tells you to get over your loss or move on. Often through art, one not only heals but also finds a way to keep their loved one’s memory alive.

Reference: Creating Connections between Nursing Care and the Creative Arts Therapies: Expanding the Concept of Holistic Care by Carole-Lynne Le Navenec, Laurel Bridges (2005)   Chapter 7 The Spark of Creativity: Expressive Arts in a Hospital Setting by Wende Heath. 

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist with over fifteen years experience in counseling and nine years of experience using expressive art techniques. She specializes in working with professionals who often get drained from their helping efforts, giving them the tools and support to recharge and rejuvenate their energies. Get her free gift here a 10 page E-book: 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!  

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Learn How Meditation Makes You a Better Writer

Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone can tell their story. Writer’s block prevents many people from writing and sharing their stories. You either don’t know where to begin or get hung up in the middle of the writing process. I know how difficult it can be to establish and maintain a consistent writing routine. I have found as a writer and writing coach, one sure-fire way to get the creative juices flowing is to practice meditation.

My story

Meditation has saved my sanity as an empath and writer. It helps me let go of other people’s energy and reconnects me to my soul. Without meditation, I experience writer’s block, feel anxious, depressed and overwhelmed. I am inspired, passionate, and creative, when I slow down, relax the body and release excess energy.

The Benefits of Meditation for Writer’s:

1.) Releases you from the Dreaded Grip of Writer’s Block. Did you know writer’s block develops when your brain is overwhelmed and engulfed by too many ideas? It is the abundance of stimuli, not the lack of ideas at the root of this issue. This excessive input is what causes your brain to freeze and stop.

Writer’s block can also be the result of post traumatic stress. When the brain experiences a traumatic event, it switches into the fight, flight or freeze response. This survival mechanism works great in a life threatening situation. The problem begins when the brain gets stuck in this mode after the trauma has past. When your brain operates from these types of functions, it can not access creativity. If you have this kind of creative block, feel free to practice meditation, as it can help. In order to heal, seek out a trained psychotherapist who has knowledge of expressive arts, writing and post traumatic stress.

A meditation practice will begin to thaw the frozen brain. It allows the racing thoughts to slow down enough for you to consciously choose which ones to focus on. When you identify the individual fear, you can process and let it go. This is when your inspiration will start to flow.

2.) Connects you to Your Inner Voice. Often empathic artists shut down their  connection within as an attempt to cope with an emotionally, chaotic world. The result is an empty page or screen. Instead of being creative, you feel fatigued, irritable and impatient because you have a story inside yearning to be told. It is no fun being a blocked creative.

Meditation decreases overwhelm and increases your coping skills. When the busy thoughts slow down; your mind, body and spirit settles. This allows you to connect deeply within. Listen to your heart and soul. Write down each message you receive and you will be led on your writer’s journey.

3.) Improves your Concentration. When you let go of fear, stress and responsibility, your focus will improve with a meditation practice. You become an observer of your thoughts through the practice of detachment. Mindfulness allows you to experience this present moment. You are not stuck in a fearful future or the regrets of the past. With this clarity, you will establish and achieve your writing goals.

When you are connect within to spirit, listen to your inner voice and practice your writing goals, you become a better writer.

I am honored to have written, recorded and created this MP3 for writers like you.

Are you blocked with your writing or looking for new ways to keep the creative juices flowing? Release those fears and get motivated to write. In The Writer’s Meditation: A Guided Journey to Creativity & Spirit  Lisa Hutchison LMHC helps you open to your creative flow and connect with spirit. Get the tools you need to write easily and effortlessly with each 20 minute journey.

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Music: “Temple of Healing Love by Thaddeus.”  Used with permission

Buy your MP3 copy today here: The Writer’s Meditation: A Guided Journey of Creativity & Spirit. 

Now more than ever, compassionate writers like you have a desire to express your authentic voice. Writing helps heal yourself and others. You have a message inside, won’t you share it?

Enjoy this meditation!

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist, writing coach and a contributing writer for two Chicken Soup for the Soul Books. She teaches creative writing classes throughout Massachusetts, offering in person and by phone writing coaching sessions. Her psychological advice has been featured in Reader’s Digest and The Huffington Post. http://www.lisahutchison.net 

 

How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

 

How Trauma Gets in the Way of Relationship Success

Under stress, the human mind is vulnerable to unresolved trauma. When you or someone you know feels reminded of a traumatic event, you either freeze (become detached), fight (verbally or physically) or take flight (avoid and leave). Often you don’t know what happened inside of your own mind or someone else’s; what you see is a change in behavior which causes your relationship to suffer.

What is a trigger? 

A trigger is something that someone says or does that reminds your subconscious mind of a past trauma. Some people experience flashbacks or a reliving of the event after being triggered. These flashbacks happen a lot for people who have post traumatic stress.

Trauma Reactions

You can experience a trauma reaction from war, sexual assault, death, or any type of abusive relationship in which you felt your life was or is in danger.  Being a witness to other’s experiencing trauma can be traumatizing for some people. Empaths may be more susceptible to trauma reactions because of their sensitivity.

An example

Veterans who hear fireworks may feel as if they are back in the war. In that moment and time, their mind is occupied with a trauma image. As a result, they appear tense, angry, anxious or detached from the present moment.

When you do not heal past trauma it continues to be an energy that gets expressed. It often comes out in one of these three ways in relationships. 

3 Trauma Behaviors that Cause Relationship Difficulty 

Chaos-  Your relationships are unstable and chaotic. This energy is acted out and seen as dramatic arguments in relationships. For others who repress chaos within, the energy causes illness and chronic pain. Since your mind is overstimulated, you find it hard to focus and are easily distracted, similar to people who experience attention deficit disorders. You may turn to substances or have addictions.

Avoidance–  You feel fearful, overwhelmed or frozen. Another reason why you avoid is due to feeling numb. When you cut yourself off from feeling, you disconnect from the painful traumatic emotions but also the happy, pleasurable emotions of life. Since you find no joy in life, you stop maintaining connections. If you are in a relationship, you appear detached and don’t know why you can’t connect with others even when you are together. You may turn to substances and have addictions.

Over-reactive to life – You feel angry. You and others notice you have a short fuse and react impulsively. You feel jumpy and on edge because your brain believes it is under a threat, in psychology this is known as hypervigilance. This super reactivity is good in times of crisis, it is not useful in everyday life. Your outbursts can lead to arrests and legal difficulties. You may turn to substances and have addictions.

To Wrap It All Up

If you are experiencing these trauma behaviors you and your relationships do not need to suffer, seek out a qualified therapist who works with trauma. The good news is, trauma can be healed and you can have successful relationships.

Remember everyone is coming from their own perception and experiences. When someone is overly reactive, avoiding you or stuck in their own drama, it is not personal. It may be a sign of past unresolved trauma they have not healed yet.

Some people stay in these reactions their entire lives while others seek therapy. My advice to you is lovingly detach from them and heal your own wounds. With time and space, you will know how to respond to these types of relationships.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach for empaths and artists. Unresolved trauma is one of the many ways your energy becomes depleted overtime. Lisa specializes in working for professionals who often get drained from their helping efforts, refill and rejuvenate their energies, Visit www.lisahutchison.net and get  FREE – 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now! 

5 Benefits of Meditation that Restore Your Energy

“Our world needs more time to wonder and reflect but there is too much fast paced constant distraction.” – Mister Rogers.
 

We live in a complex world with a lot of stimuli flooding our senses each and every day. It is easy to get caught up in the whirl of activity around and within you. For empaths and HSP (highly sensitive people), the feeling of overwhelm can engulf you due to your ability to absorb energy from the people, places and things around you.

Here are 5 specific ways meditation restores your energy

  1. Reduces Stress– The act of focusing your mind, relaxes your entire mind-body-spirit system. When you meditate, you decrease stress hormones called epinephrine and cortisol. These hormones are activated by a part of your brain known as the amygdala. It is this part of your brain that reacts to stress and trauma causing you to go into a fight, flight or freeze response. In an eight week study (2011), Lazar found the amygdala got smaller through meditation and mindfulness. The participants reported spending an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises. 
  2. Calms Racing Thoughts– When you observe your bodily sensations and the stimuli around you, it slows the thoughts. One 2013 research study called Mindfulness Training Improves Working Memory Capacity and GRE Performance While Reducing Mind Wandering found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people’s focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the graduate record examination (GRE).
  3. Increases Your Patience Meditation may increase your empathy for others. By consciously focusing on your breath, you learn detachment. Detachment or letting go naturally gives you more patience as you become more responsive rather than reactive. In a 2011 study Loving-Kindness and Compassion Meditation: Potential for Psychological Interventions  It is hypothesized that “loving kindness meditation may be particularly useful for targeting interpersonal problems such as anger control issues, whereas both compassion meditation and loving kindness meditation be particularly useful for treating relationship problems, such as marital conflicts, or counteracting the challenges among care giving professions or nonprofessionals who must provide long-term care to a relative or friend.” 
  4. Maintains a Mind-Body Connection– When you slow your breathing down it can sync up your mind and body. In a 2016 study called Entrainment of chaotic activities in brain and heart during MBSR mindfulness training it was found  “the chaotic activities of the brain and the heart became more coordinated during Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training, suggesting that mindfulness training may increase the entrainment between mind and body.” 
  5. Improves your Sleep– Your body and mind become more relaxed through a meditation practice which can help you let go, release and get a better quality of sleep. In April 2015 a study called Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment among Older Adults with Sleep Disturbances was published.  It was found that those in the mindfulness group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the six sessions than those in the sleep education group only. 

My story

Meditation has saved my sanity as an empath. It not only has helped me let go of other people’s energy but also reconnects me to my soul. Without meditation, I am impatient, anxious, overwhelmed and more easily focused on the negatives of life. When I slow down, relax the body and release excess energy, I feel at peace, rejuvenated and myself again.

I am honored to have written, recorded and created an MP3 recording just for compassionate professionals like you called Renew and Heal: Releasing the Chaos Meditation.

I know how difficult it can be to let go of the craziness around you when you care so deeply. This energy of stress gets absorbed deep within your system causing fatigue, irritability and impatience. Now more than ever compassionate souls are being called to stay centered and grounded despite the chaos of our daily world and life.

I invite you to purchase your copy today here: Renew & Heal Meditation Releasing the Chaos 

Be as good to yourself as you are to others!

Renew & Heal Meditation-Releasing the Chaos

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach for empaths and artists. Her specialty is working with professionals who get drained from their helping efforts, recharge and renew their energy. If you would like to learn more about Lisa and her practice visit www.lisahutchison.net and pick up your FREE 10 page e-book called 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos From Your Life Now! 

Are you feeling pressure to do more with life?

Many sensitive souls I work for feel pressure to do more with their life. This burden can originate from your own internal process but also external forces, such as parents, relatives and friends. One common theme is a drive to move forward in some great way, yet you are unsure of what that is or where you are going. This weight is felt emotionally and can be expressed as restlessness, anxiety and depression.

Are you feeling pressured to do more in life-

 

My personal story

For me, this stress began in childhood. I was born an empath and experienced my father’s sudden death when I was 5 years old and my brother-in-law’s death when I was 15 years old. From these experiences, I felt I don’t have a lot of time in life. In some ways this awareness has made my life richer and more beautiful because I push myself to not have any regrets. In other ways, it has caused me great pain.

Trauma theorists in the psychology world would say a part of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is believing that you will not have a normal life span or in technical terms, a foreshortened future. What happens when you only have this one symptom? One symptom of PTSD does not qualify anyone for a diagnosis.

In the recent year alone, I had two friends die suddenly. Adding this to my mother’s death over 5 years ago, I see how life can change in the blink of an eye and death has touched me very deeply. Death has manifested in me a compulsion to achieve. I need to hurry up, get things done and make my mark on this world before I am out. I am sharing my personal experience because I know others of you are out there who also pressure yourselves for this reason and others.

Reasons why you feel pressured to do more in life

  • Empaths are born healers, who need to become more visible with their gifts, yet often hide them and avoid public exposure. One theory is this restlessness comes from your soul to get you moving and put yourself out there more. Yet, you will be no good to anyone else if you burnout from self-imposed pressure. Read more about burnout here: What helpers like you need to know about burnout 
  • You worry that you are not doing enough with your life. This inferior thinking leads you to compare yourself to others or feel something is missing. What worsens this effect are milestones such as deaths, birthdays, reunions, weddings and births for yourself or those close to you. These events get you thinking about life, regrets and how fast time seems to be moving.
  • You are experiencing post-traumatic stress. You experienced trauma around a life threatening event or a death and are now experiencing symptoms such as startle responses, nightmares, avoidance of triggers that remind you of the trauma, emotional numbness, a sense of a foreshortened future and anxiety. You have flashbacks which put your mind back into the scene of the trauma and feel stuck reliving it through your thoughts and feelings.
  • You are psychic. It could be you are predicting your own shortened life. I have often felt this way. Unfortunately, you will not know you are right until you are on the other side.

What to do

There is a lot of healing that needs to be done in this world, the best place to start is with yourself. When you become overwhelmed with the wounds of others, make an appointment to heal your own. If you are experiencing trauma symptoms, make an appointment with an empathic psychotherapist or healer.

There is no perfect life. Learn to live from your heart and not your head. Become aware of the pressured thinking, stop it in its tracks and focus on what is right in front of you. No one knows how much time any of us have on Earth, relax and enjoy it as much as you can. Trust that there is time and space to do everything you need to do according to divine planning.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone’s life has challenges, do not get sucked into the hype of social media where everything looks great. That is one snapshot of a person’s day, it does not tell the entire story of their life. Compare yourself to yourself 6 months or a year ago and use that as a measure of success.

To wrap things up

Life is short and we live in an uncertain world. The key is to become aware of the thinking that causes you to suffer and learn to drop down into your heart space. Focus on your breath, relax and let go with each exhale. Enjoy this ride called life as much as possible, for this is how you end your life with no regrets.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who feel drained after their helping efforts, refill and recharge their energy with intuitive counseling and angel card readings. For more information visit her website at www.lisahutchison.net, while you are there get this FREE gift 8 Simple Things that Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

Coping with the unexpected death of a friend

Coping with the unexpected death of a friend

Death has a deep effect upon an empathic soul. The more you are attached to someone, the stronger your grief reaction will be. As an empath, your energy becomes enmeshed with those close to you. When a death occurs, it is a process of letting go of those physical connections and establishing a new connection that is only at a spiritual level.

Grief can become more complex when a death is unexpected or sudden. The state of shock you first experience cushions you in the initial days. It is also exhausting and draining because you are carrying the emotional pain of your loss, which has yet to be expressed. Some people experience trauma symptoms similar to PTSD after an intense loss, this is known as complicated grief.

Helpful Suggestions in Your Grief

1.) Acknowledge grief is work and it takes its toll physically, emotionally and spiritually when it is ignored. In order to heal, you need to feel. Make time for grief. If it pops up at inconvenient times, write about it at night or on the weekends.

2.) Feel the pain of the loss. This is the most difficult part of grief, without it there is no moving forward. At this point in the healing process, you may need to reach out to an empathic therapist who has expertise in grief/loss issues.

3.) Keep your routine. Structure will give you a sense of stability and control when emotions feel intense or come out of the blue.

2 friends, 6 months

One of my best friend’s died from cancer, last October. It was a month from the diagnosis to his death. Six months later on the exact date, I found out that a friend of mine that I met on Facebook and talked to by phone, died suddenly on her 54th birthday.

Sharon and I were both co-authors in 365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul and 365 Life Shifts books. I often visited her Facebook page when I didn’t see her posts in my newsfeed because there would be a variety of positive and uplifting messages. She felt this was something she needed and wanted to do every day for others. I am grateful she listened to that voice within that I often encourage others to do. I know many days, I was helped by her posts.

I read about her death when I visited her Facebook page the day after her birthday. At first, I was in complete shock and disbelief seeing a couple of posts from others that spoke about her death. I hoped it was a cruel joke, but it wasn’t. I felt angry and questioned God, why her? I reasoned saying that others could have been taken off this Earth instead. I also cried over the loss realizing that there will be no other phone calls or positive posts left by her on her page anymore. These feelings of denial, confusion, anger, shock, bargaining and sadness are all normal parts of the grieving process.

Here are some of her recent posts that inspired me, perhaps they will inspire you also. She often wrote one word to empathize the post which I have included here:

Inspire

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Courage

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Faith

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Some Days

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Practices I learned from early loss and death in my own life. 

1.) Shine your light. The Divine gave you this light for a reason. Go out there and be your best self without apology.

2.) Value your connections. Enjoy every moment of this journey called Life and everyone who is in it. Acknowledge and give others attentive love, you never know when you or the other will be called home.

This blog has been dedicated to those who have suffered sudden losses and to my friend Sharon Rothstein. I know you are shining your light down on us from heaven. xx

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net

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What helpers like you need to know about burnout

What helpers like you need to know about burnout (3)

 

Helpers and first responders often believe that they can push through irritation and emotional pain. You soldier on despite multiple systems in your body screaming out for you to stop. Some of these warning signs are unending fatigue, sleep difficulties, appetite changes, concentration problems, anxiety, depression, increased illnesses and anger.

As an empathic helper, you are going to experience work or help related stress due to caring so much. When that stress is combined with a lack of self- care and a lack of support more serious stress reactions can occur such as burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatization.

Compassion fatigue and burnout arises from too much work, or as many people say burning the candle at both ends. Empathic helpers often absorb other’s pain and take it with them into their home life. Too much sympathy or working with empathy without proper boundaries drains helpers of energy and leads to burnout. In a study of 216 hospice care nurses from 22 hospices across the state of Florida it was found that, “Trauma, anxiety, life demands, and excessive empathy (leading to blurred professional boundaries) were key determinants of compassion fatigue risk in the multiple regression model that accounted for 91 % (P< .001) of the variance in compassion fatigue risk.” (Abendroth & Flannery 2006).

Vicarious traumatization can happen when you absorb the psychological material of your client who has experienced trauma. You feel the trauma in your own energetic system as PTSD symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, irritability and startle responses. This is why it is important to hold the energetic boundaries and seek supervision or your own counseling. If you are experiencing increased anxiety, startle responses or irritation, after your work with a client ask yourself; is this my trauma or yours?

What can a compassionate helper do?

  • You need to limit your use of empathy. Yes, there can be too much of a good thing.  Empathy is one tool a helper uses in combination with other techniques to ensure client growth. At times you may need to use more directive or instructional types of methods rather than an all-out holding of the space for another.
  •  Be aware and recognize that trauma and stress are running the show. When you notice a change in your mood and thoughts, review your day and think about who you were with and what was discussed.
  • Self- Care. All empathic helpers need a self-care regime that refills and recharges your energy. Relaxation and energy increasing activities will balance out the fatigue you are experiencing. Grounding through the use of mindfulness can keep your focus in the present moment.
  • Seek psychotherapy with an empathic therapist who can help you with burnout and trauma. Going to a therapist who knows trauma, work stress and energy work can make a world of difference for yourself and your clients.
  •  Get this workbook for yourself and your clients. I have found this to be a valuable resource that I use with my clients: The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms Workbook Edition by Mary Beth Williams (Author), Soili Poijula (Author) Some of the chapters include: Before Doing the Work: Safety, Security and Intention and Helping Yourself When You Re-experience a Trauma. (As an amazon affiliate I receive a small portion of the sale when you buy after clicking the above link, without any addition cost to you. Thank you for choosing this method of purchasing.) 

References:

Abendroth, M., & Flannery, J. (2006). Predicting the risk of compassion fatigue: A study of hospice nurses. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, 8(6), 346-356.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who feel drained after their helping efforts, refill and recharge their energy with intuitive counseling and angel card readings. For more information visit her website at www.lisahutchison.net, while you are there take advantage of the free gift 8 Simple Things that Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

Why compassionate people have lost their empathy for others

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2016 was a heavy year for people collectively from celebrity deaths to the US election. Many clients have told me about their personal losses, anxiety and disappointments. When you are in your own emotional pain feeling another’s emotional pain overwhelms you. I am here to reassure you, you are not alone it was a rough ride for many people, including myself.

If you are a sensitive person you may wonder why you suddenly lack compassion and patience for others. Anger, fear and numbness block the connection to your heart. When you feel contempt, judgment, or fear towards others you lose that mirroring of empathic response and feeling. You disconnect yourself out of a fear of being hurt again, yet, empathic response and experience require connection which means risk and vulnerability.

After a trauma or period of intense stress you can experience a sensation of being shell-shocked and reactive. When a person’s nervous system becomes overstimulated it goes into the fight (anger), flight (anxiety) or freeze (shuts down into numbness) response. In psychological terms this could be an adjustment disorder, acute stress reaction or post-traumatic stress. For an accurate diagnosis and treatment, go to a licensed professional rather than the internet.

Why don’t I feel better yet?

It is a new year and a new energy, although energy does not merely change with a flip of a calendar page, it is a process. Wait a good 3 months to give the energy a chance to build and move collectively. Individually, you are not damaged or broken. A disconnection has occurred and it has happened to many of us. Now the power is in your hands, what are you going to do about it?

What you can do:

My number 1 recommendation is to find an empathic psychotherapist to work with you. Yes, even therapists, healers and coaches need their own healers. Here is a little secret, the best ones do! I had a session in January to release much energy around 2016 in order to help others like you do the same with the work I offer.

You need someone who understands sensitive people, grief/loss issues and trauma reactions. This person will help you process the issues that trigger you so you can release them and connect again to your natural empathy for others.

While you are waiting for an appointment or in between sessions

(a) Practice mindfulness -Become aware of the present moment and that is all. This relaxes your mind, body and soul allowing you to reconnect to your empathic response.

(b) Engage in a meditation practice- Focus on your breath, it trains your nervous system to slow down and teaches you to become the witness to your thoughts. When you observe your thoughts and sensations you can choose a more empathic response or perhaps a non- response.

(c)For helpers- remember it is not your job to fix others. The best way to help others is to work on your own healing and to hold the space for others. Read How To Maintain Your Energy When Helping Others for how to do this practice.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net