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!

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Is your Helping Interfering with your Happiness?

Whether you are a professional or born helper, it feels good to assist other people. It is wonderful to extend acts of kindness as it increases positive energy into the world. There are times we all overextend and take helping too far.

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What are some causes of over-helping?

Empathic helpers feel too much. Sensitive souls often impulsively jump in and fix a situation because it is uncomfortable to witness and feel another’s struggle in your body system. You are also susceptible to manipulation in the form of guilt. Due to this internal overwhelm you can do too much for others.

It is a way to not grow into your own power as a light being. Stepping into your power can feel scary because you have witnessed other’s misuse of power. You can rest assured that most empathic helpers do not misuse power for this very reason. The fact that you are aware of your power and how it can influence others positively or negatively means you are ahead of the game.

When you avoid your light and overly focus on others, it is a form of self-sabotage. All of your energy goes towards those you help and none is left for you. Also, overly focusing on one person leaves no energy for anyone else in your life and this causes problems in other relationships.

It can be a form of addiction although it is not an official clinical diagnosis. When you help others it releases positive chemicals in your brain (much like a drug). The more positive attention you receive for acting helpful, the more it fuels this connection. Similar to a drug, what once felt good often turns into something you feel you need to do yet does not bring you any satisfaction or good feeling. The problem of helping in this regard develops when you reach out to help others compulsively instead of sitting with and feeling your sadness, anger or fear.

Feelings of insecurity or inferiority; stemming from the belief that others will not like or love you because you are not helping them. People pleasing causes an overextension of helping and is a way to receive positive attention for what you do, not for who you are. Since this feeling of positivity is external the good feeling is dependent on other’s reactions and does not last.

Letting go of control

We often try to control when we feel worried about someone else. A way to release this grip is to focus on an opposite emotion, such as gratitude. Rather than thinking about what you want to change about a person, remember what you already have. This act of accepting will increase your happiness and allow you to see that the best way to help is to nurture positive feelings and love in your relationships.

Finding Balance

You do not want to give up on being helpful but rather find a balance. Some ways to do this is to become aware of your patterns, set limits and develop boundaries. Assertiveness training and therapy can help you develop these essential skills that every helper needs.

Being a helper is what you do, it is not who you are as a person. It is how you channel and express divine love. There are times as a helper you need to edit and do less in order to allow the story of your relationship to unfold. Helping is about giving and receiving which means at times it is about sitting back and allowing someone to do something for you because it helps them feel good.

365 Life Shifts: Pivotal Moments that Changed Everything

14063987_10153933148717945_5923936462287096960_nI have written about my own healing journey from empathic over helping in 365 Life Shifts: Pivotal Moments that Changed Everything called Back to me: honoring my limits. I admitted in print that I did not know how to help out, I only knew how to overdo. Over the years, I tied myself up in knots trying to do it all. I wrote about this and how I learned to support myself in healthy ways without overextending. Buy this book to read this story and 200 other author stories about pivotal moments that changed everything.

 

Blog tour…

You may also enjoy these other blogs posted today from these 2 fellow co -authors in this book!

Fiona Louise – www.fiona-louise.com

Maureen Hollmeyer –  www.transitional-guidance.com

More about Lisa Hutchison LMHC. Lisa works for empathic healers who often get drained after their helping efforts find practical ways to refill and recharge their energy with counseling and angel card readings. The chaos of life and other people drains your energy overtime, learn how to release it, feel energized and empowered. Click here for your FREE 10 page E-book called 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

 

How to Overcome the Shame of Wanting More

As an empath, you need more self-care than others in order to nurture your gift of sensitivity and many people will not get it. Some people will seem confused by your need for solitude or special requests, while others will get downright nasty. No matter what others’ reactions are, it is essential that you take care of yourself. It is not your job to make others understand you, it is your job to protect and rejuvenate your energies. The good news is other people do not need to understand your need for more, but you do!

Why do people shame others?

People who shame, were shamed and are doing to you what they were taught. They were fed big ol’ shame sandwiches most likely by their parents and did not question or have awareness of this destructive emotion. Shame stunts personal growth by halting self-development. You cannot grow bigger under a cloud of shame.

People who shame others do not take responsibility for their feelings. When they feel insecure or uncomfortable, they will project that negativity onto you. Remember when this happens, it is not personal and take steps to protect your energies.

A personal story

I kept myself small because of shame. As a child, I was shamed for wanting more out of life and as an adult for taking care of my own needs. The message I received from my step father was;”You want too much.” Today, I wonder why wanting more caused so much fear in this man? I can only surmise that he felt unworthy of having more himself.

As a psychotherapist, I have spent a lot of time analyzing this man’s behavior to understand myself. According to people like him, I want a lot. I learned to say; so what? People who are on the path of self-development require a richer life. I accept my need for more without apology or shame.

To be crystal clear, when I talk about more it is not necessarily in the form of stuff because that has never brought me happiness. I am pretty low maintenance on most things yet I don’t budge on certain aspects of comfort/self-care. When traveling with others besides my husband, I need my own room because I require space by myself to relax and unwind. I know I can absorb a lot of energy from other travelers, people and places, therefore I take the necessary steps to care for myself.

 5 Steps to Overcome Shame & Shine

  • Know your real self– Do you identify as an empath or highly sensitive person? If yes, what does that mean for you?
  • Know what you need– What are your self- care requirements (regardless of how other people respond to them)?
  • Know that you deserve it– You are worthy of having what you want and need. Yes, it is okay to want more!
  • Assert yourself and hold those boundaries– Speak up about what you need without stepping on other’s boundaries and stand in your power.
  • Learn the signs and feelings of shame- Put shame squarely in its place by recognizing it and not absorbing it into your body. Look at it as an outdated emotion that no longer has a purpose in your life.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who want to recharge and replenish their depleted energies in order to heal themselves and others. Lisa is an intuitive psychotherapist who offers counseling, certified angel card readings and writing coaching sessions to compassionate helpers by phone and in person. Help yourself to her FREE 10 page E-book 8 Simple Things that Release Chaos from Your Life Now! at http://www.lisahutchison.net