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Are You Caring or Overcaring?

Are You Caring or Overcaring?

Hopefully, we all have someone who meant a lot to us in our life — a mentor, friend or family member. Recall how you felt when they showed how much they cared. I remember my older sister Sue, who sincerely cared about me. She helped with homework, saved me a seat on the school bus and spent time explaining things and also just talking with me. She made me feel like her best friend.

“Care is love in action,” Institute of HeartMath founder Doc Childre once said.

True care is:

  • Regenerative for both the sender and receiver
  • One of the most restorative feelings for health and fulfillment
  • Like an oil that lubricates your entire mental, emotional and physical systems
  • A nurturing and healing energy
  • Quite simply, love-creating and love-sustaining

Research has shown that feelings of care boost the immune system, and lack of care depletes it. Harvard psychologist David McClelland did studies which proved that the feeling of care enhances a person’s immune system through increased production of the hormone salivary IgA, which protects against colds and flu. Research at the Institute of HeartMath found that sincere and positive heart-focused feeling states, like care, boost the immune system, while negative emotions may suppress the immune response for up to six hours following the emotional experience.

Read more of The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Compassion and Anger, 1995, Rein, Atkinson and McCraty.

Why is it important to balance the care we feel and experience?

Concerned parents with daughterFrom time to time for most of us, our care turns into worry, anxiety and stress, which drains our energy and depletes the immune system. We have genuine concerns for friends and others in our lives and for issues related to our community and the world. It is common for any of us to over-identify and over-attach ourselves to a person or object of our caring, especially if it’s with someone we love or regarding an issue that we feel strongly about. When we get over-identified or over-attached to what we care about, it’s called “overcare.”

When the true care from your heart turns into overcare from your mind, it creates an energy drain that actually shuts down the heart feelings. The following is cited in HeartMath’s e-booklet, Understanding Care: “The draining cycle of overcare begins as we over-identify with a situation, an issue, or a person we care about. In other words, we identify too much. We begin to overcare and want to see things go a certain way. We get over attached to how we want things to turn out.”

Overcare blocks the flow of regenerative care between the sender and receiver. Parents often think they have to overcare and worry about their children to feel they are really caring about them. But worry never brings balanced solutions to problems.

It’s important to balance our care so it doesn’t adversely affect our relationships, our health or other areas of our lives. How can you know if you are truly caring or overcaring?

Ask yourself: “Is my care stress-reducing or stress-producing?”Happy family

True care reduces stress for the sender and the receiver. So, if your care for someone or something is giving you stress, anxiety or worry, you can realize it has crossed a line into overcare and is an energy drain. When you recognize stress relating to overcare, it’s a signal to rebalance, to self-adjust and reconnect with the feeling of true care from your heart.

Should you find that you or someone you know is experiencing overcare, the HeartMath Cut-Thru® Technique can help. This technique is helpful for cutting through overcare, over-identification and over-attachment and reducing the resulting stress. It helps you regain balance, listen to your common sense heart intelligence, and then get back on a track of genuine caring. As you practice the Cut-Thru technique, you gain new insights and your overcare naturally re-adjusts into truly balanced care.


A HeartMath Tip: Cut-Thru: Here’s a simple exercise adapted from the HeartMath Cut-Thru technique to help you regain balanced care.

Remember, those who feel and offer true, balanced care will benefit themselves and the receiver. So by all means never stop caring, for it is one of the great joys and rewards of life.

Read Overcare — Make Sure Your Care is Helping, Not Hurting


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Sara, from the HeartMath Institute

Sara Childre is President and CEO of the non-profit Institute of HeartMath. Since 1991, Sara has helped oversee and develop HeartMath trainings, educational products and scientific programs. She was appointed vice president and CFO of the institute in 1992, then president and CEO in 1998.


+ add your own
3:59PM PST on Feb 8, 2014

good article, thanks :)

3:44PM PST on Jan 26, 2014


12:03PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

Thanks for sharing

6:57AM PST on Dec 30, 2013

Thanks for sharing

10:38AM PST on Dec 26, 2013

Yes, it is a fine balance between caring and overcaring.

4:00AM PST on Dec 16, 2013

Thanks for sharing

4:05AM PST on Dec 9, 2013

Pretty sure I am over caring. I can never say no to people I love, even when I should.

4:02AM PST on Dec 9, 2013

It is essential to find balance between being caring or overcaring. Sometimes the line can be very tenous.

12:58AM PST on Nov 25, 2013

Thank you :)

6:35AM PST on Nov 24, 2013

Overcaring was I.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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