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When Caring Becomes Stressful

When Caring Becomes Stressful


Too often many of us who care about social causes and the environment separate our personal stress level from our social or environmental mission. We may think that chronic stress in the name of mission is a worthwhile sacrifice. But it’s easy to see (especially in others) how stress overload creates dysfunction and compromises effectiveness. If we are personally and socially responsible, we cannot ignore our own stress and health.

One of the challenges for those of us who deeply care about people and the planet is what researchers at the Institute of HeartMath term “overcare” – when care turns into stress-producing worry, anxiety and angst, taking a toll on our clarity, health and effectiveness.

It’s important that those of us who do care, also care for ourselves and each other as much as we care for our mission or we will compromise our social impact.

Research also shows that feelings of true care are regenerative and stress-reducing for both the giver and the receiver, and as we learn to balance our care, we are more effective.Women Balancing Globe in the Air

Stress researcher and HeartMath founder Doc Childre writes, “It’s more important now than ever to practice the caring maintenance of our personal energy balance, to learn how to shift from fear to calm and poise when responding to stressful events or news reports. This helps to prevent energy drain and increases the effectiveness of our outgoing care. When our emotions are exhausted, agitated or frayed, it compromises our personal mental and physical system and diminishes our effectiveness. It’s harder to prevent emotional drain at times when you’re personally connected to a stressful event, but there are important actions you can take in the moment while you are experiencing the stress.”

Doc offers caregivers these important tips:

  • It’s worth taking time out on occasion to consciously breathe the feeling of calm and restoration into your system. Doing this from your genuine heart feelings restores emotional resilience, which is especially needed when giving care and support to others. Use any restoration techniques that work for you. The important thing is: remember to do it. Self-care is an essential component in global care.
  • Many people are sensitive to the increasing stress energetics on the planet, the frequency of stress waves and amplification of stress waves by the media. You may find yourself more impatient, short-tempered or anxious. Practice increasing your compassion for yourself and others.
  • Make a commitment to “clear as you go” which means try to resolve judgment, blame and miscommunications, so they don’t occupy your mind, fester in your emotions, and drain your energy. Practice heart-connected communication. Speak from your heart honestly. Listen from your heart without judgment. These are heart-based actions that have proven effective in minimizing distortion, stress and dysfunction. Keep practicing them until they become new habits of care.

Let us know how these tips work for you!

Read more in this article Overcare – Make Sure Your Care is Helping, Not Hurting and how the HeartMath Cut-Thru® Technique can help.

Women Relaxing

Transforming Stress eBooklet and audio gives you the know-how to transform stress. Click here for Free your download Transforming Stress eBooklet and audio.

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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
12:10PM PST on Dec 12, 2014

Thank you

7:48AM PST on Nov 14, 2014

I totally now what's meant in this article. Thanks for the tips, it's important that people also think about themselves sometimes!

1:50PM PST on Nov 4, 2014

Thank you for sharing and posting!

5:04AM PDT on Oct 28, 2014

Peace to all

6:46PM PDT on Oct 26, 2014

I know this article is accurate from personal experience - all very well caring for everything from the planet to a member of the family, especially if they live with you, but if you don't care for yourself it doesn't take long to realise it's time you did.

3:02AM PDT on Oct 21, 2014


1:26PM PDT on Oct 17, 2014

Live long and prosper

6:55PM PDT on Oct 16, 2014

You know what? I am so glad that we have God to take charge of things when we can do no more. Because when I think of all the major issues that have to be resolved in order for all people to live a just and fair life, there are too many. And as we relentlessly try to tackle them, we're like Sisyphus, the mythological Greek king who was sentenced to roll a boulder up a steep hill only to have it roll back down again. This went on eternally! So it is with the problems of this world. So we just have to do the best we can and then let go and let God. Geeeeeze, I'm glad God has our backs!

2:26PM PDT on Oct 16, 2014

Compassion can indeed be overwhelming. Often I simply weep, sometimes for over an hour. Thank you for these tips!

2:09PM PDT on Oct 13, 2014

Remembering that little things make a big difference can help establish a healthy balance for our emotions. Sometimes our culture implies that our actions must be big and noticable to others to make an impact. In reality, all the small things we do each day make a huge difference, in the long-run.

When big things can be done, enjoy those too, but, keep in mind that small acts of kindness really do help change the world, maybe more than the 'big' things ultimately.

We are all Caring people. It's good to be with such thoughtful people!

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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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