Have you ever felt like the world was just spinning too fast? You had too many things to do and not enough hours to do them? You’re running just to keep up? I have had that kind of week: busy at school, busy at work, requests for my time from my boyfriend, friends, and family… not to mention the laundry, the dishes, the need to clean the house (which are all being ignored). Oh, and there’s a birthday party and a wedding to go to this weekend – did I remember to get gifts? Of course I haven’t exercised all week – how could I possibly have made time for that?
So here it is, Friday afternoon, and I’m left with this question: How will it all get done?!
Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed too. What does that look like for you? Do you shut down and get even less done? Do you have to throw a fit, get the emotion out, and then you can get something done? Do you just live day-to-day with a constant level of stress that means one little thing will cause you to break down in tears or yelling at someone who just asked if you knew what time it was? What does it feel like for you? Do you worry that everything will fall apart if you don’t vaccuum the floor, get an A on that paper? Do you worry that the friends won’t like you anymore if you can’t go to their party? Here comes the anxiety!
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The unexamined life is not worth living. -Socrates
The Greek philosopher Socrates was willing to die for the right to ask insightful questions. While we don’t have to make that kind of choice today, we still have a lot of questions about our lives that we may need help in answering…
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avoid caregiver burnout
“Sometimes the one who has been there for everyone else needs someone to be there for them.”
Are you a caregiver for someone who has a mental or physical illness or disability?
There are many types of caregivers: parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents, teachers, nurses, counselors, etc. So often, people who are in caregiver roles devote all of their time, attention and resources to the person or people in their care. If they’re not mindful of their own needs and limitations (which we all have), caregivers can become so depleted that their ability to give adequate care becomes compromised. I know this sounds like common sense, but if you don’t learn to practice self-care, eventually you won’t be able to take care of anyone, least of all yourself. It is all too common for caregivers to suffer fatigue and burn out.
According to WebMD, “Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.”
Have you noticed that lately you’re feeling irritable? Is your level of emotional and physical exhaustion at an all-time high? Do you find yourself withdrawing from the people who do their best to support you and understand what you’re going through? Have you lost interest in things that used to matter to you? Have you been getting sick a lot lately? Do you feel like you just can’t take it anymore? If these questions have elicited a resounding “Yes!” then you may be suffering from burnout!
With the holiday season upon us, you may be feeling even more isolated than usual. Either you don’t have the option of travelling to be with friends and relatives, or maybe you simply aren’t getting those kinds of invitations anymore. Sometimes just making it through the day is such a victory that holiday parties and dinner with friends can seem like ridiculous self indulgences. Caregivers can slip into a “zone” of focusing so much on the survival and well-being of others, that over time they forget about their own needs like belonging, connecting, feeling competent, learning, having fun, or just being an individual.
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When I think about what drew me to counseling, I certainly recollect my own life experiences. I have been impacted by some very significant trials as well as moments of great triumph. I would define myself as an optimistic realist, as I try to approach life with a true sense of hope. I have a hope for believing that there just may be an opportunity for things to ultimately turn out well, while at the same time realizing that there is often a challenge in getting to the outcome. Even as I share my definition of hope and a possibility greater than our flawed circumstances, I can appreciate how so much of life may not seem quite that meaningful “in the moment.”
My career as a counselor began when I was approached by my own medical doctor who encouraged me to pursue a field outside of the nursing profession. To clarify, I will say that I was not yet a professional nurse, and I was actually still in high school. I had always thought that I wanted to become a pediatric nurse so that I could help people, just like they had helped me. In lieu of going into detail about my own health adventures, I need to say that if it hadn’t been for my own experiences and having received such quality care, I know I wouldn’t be so blessed to be able to repay the efforts by helping people today. I’m just doing it in a different way than I had originally planned, as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Life Skills Resource Group in Orlando rather than as a nurse.
I have found that this different way of helping people…counseling…can be so powerful. My first college course after high school was a general psychology class. I remember being honestly blown away by the concept of being there for people, emotionally. From that point forward, I dove right in to a journey toward learning about what it meant to be a counselor. Even my early part-time jobs consisted of the exploration of learning how to work with people. One thing that I’ve found myself repeating all the time is that idea of: if only I had known back then what I know now. Well, of course, we all know that hindsight is 20-20. And, I very much appreciate how my journey within my role not only as a counselor, but also a human being – sometimes running forward and sometimes stumbling along the way – is and will continue to be an ongoing path of learning and growth.
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As many of us are living an “austere” lifestyle right now- financially, emotionally, and spiritually; it can be hard to remember when times were good. You may have lost sight of what it was like to not feel worried, afraid, stressed, confused, lonely and/or lost. You may suspect that nobody wants to hear you talk about your problems anymore (because they likely have problems of their own), and you could be right.
Well, you may feel like you’re handling the situation pretty well overall. You’ve managed to keep yourself, your family, your business or your career somewhat intact. You’ve given up a lot of things that you used to consider “must haves,” like weekly haircuts or going out to dinner. Friends no longer invite you out for lunch, because they know you can’t afford it, and they don’t want to make you feel bad for having to decline. You’re down in the dumps, but you find that if you really try, you can snap yourself out of it. Besides, you don’t have the time or energy to give in to feeling sorry for yourself. You’re afraid that if you really think about it, or lean into it, you might just lose it completely and have a “nervous breakdown.”
So, what do you do? You think that if you can just keep moving, you will make it to the other side of this. You walk around feeling numb from the neck up and like you’re made out of lead from the neck down. You’re proud of yourself for your sheer stamina and power of will. For some reason, people keep saying to you, “I don’t know how you do it. I could never…” Don’t they understand that you don’t have a choice? You wish you could go to the beach for the weekend or to Las Vegas for a conference, like your friends do. You wish you could just relax. Heck, you wish you could just have one coherent thought; one moment of clarity and peace.
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