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.
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.