Did you know that November is National Care-givers month? Unfortunately, most caregivers are unaware of this. Moreover, much too busy and overwhelmed to – STOP, and give themselves the much needed attention they deserve.

When the balance between an individual’s needs and that of another in need of care becomes overwhelming, then giving has become seriously out of balance. Most of us have all heard “it’s better to give than receive.” However, while giving is certainly a wonderful and desirable attribute; we must remember to include “thyself” in the equation. It is also important to consider how the cycle of giving and receiving must include the other within each individual. One cannot continue to give without replenishing (receiving) one’s supply.

The term Compassion Fatigue is often referred to professional care-givers who have been adversely affected by the repeated exposure to another’s trauma. However, I have witnessed this among non-professional caregivers attending to chronically or terminally ill loved ones as well. With no previous medical training and often in addition to other demands – individuals become primary care-givers medically and otherwise. Burdened by these accumulated stressors and demands, the symptoms of Compassion Fatigue often take its toll.

Some of the warning signs for Compassion Fatigue include: abusing drugs, alcohol or food; increased anger or irritability; sleep disturbances; depression; physical and emotional exhaustion; and unrealistic self-expectations.

Therefore, it is extremely important for individual self-care, especially when one gives so much. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” implies you must first love yourself to have it to give another. In my practice, I have found those individuals who have subconscious beliefs regarding deserving or worthiness issues, are the ones that have the most difficulty with balancing both giving and receiving. Whether, using hypnotherapy, energy psychology, or another modality - until we get to those core beliefs these individuals continue to give to the extent of exhaustion.

The following suggestions may help to create a self- (giving) care program:
• Deal with your feelings – identify & admit don’t suppress, talk with someone you trust or write them in a journal.
• Make a plan – recognize your triggers & limits, prioritize.
• Balance – your needs with your loved ones & delegate, be realistic.
• Work – discuss your needs and situation with your employer
• Involve older children/other relatives – responsibility doesn’t have to be burdensome; young people can learn empathy, responsibility and self-confidence
• Ask others for help – it’s best to create a list of specific tasks people can help with
• Take a break from care-giving – even 15 – 20 minutes – just for YOU!!
Exercise – take a walk, do something physical to decrease stress and enhance your energy
• Eat healthy – try to eat 3 balanced meals; for more energy avoid foods high in:
o Saturated fats
o Sugar
o Salts
o Chemical preservatives and additives
o Calories
• Attend a support group
• Seek professional help
• Take a class on something that interests you - gets you out of the house and takes your mind off things
• Use guided imagery & relax
• Find humor and laugh

Remember you MUST take care of yourself, before you can take care of someone else!

When caring for a loved one consider the following “Six L’s of Caring and Coping by Dave Balch, founder of The patient/Partner Project:

– Learn as Much as You Can, as Quickly as You Can
? Don’t delay – the longer you do, the more anxiety you will suffer
– Laugh
– Live in the Moment
? Don’t worry needlessly about things that very well may never happen!
– Look Forward to Something
? It will give you HOPE
– Keep Friends and Family in the Loop
? Updates are important – just don’t burn out on telling them over and over…..
? Be creative – email, answering machine, etc.
– Level with Each Other
? Express your feelings, wants and needs to each other
? Provide a “safe place to land”

The giving of oneself to another is the ultimate gift when given from a place of balance – both giving and receiving.

The following resources may assist you in creating balanced giving:
? In-home and community-based services
– Home Health Care
? www.medicare.gov
? Click on “Compare Home Health Agencies in your Area”
- Respite Care
- Meal Program
? Meals on Wheels – 633-6325
? Central Indiana Council on Aging
– 60 years and older
– 254-3660 or www.cicoa.org

– Transportation
? American Cancer Society – 347-6670
? Indy Go – 635-3344
– Assist people with disabilities
? Indianapolis Senior Citizen’s Center – 263-6279
– Discount taxi vouchers for people aged 60+
? Little Red Door Cancer Agency – 925-5595

– Cleaning and yard work services
– Senior Centers
– Adult Day Care Services
– Home health aides/hired caregivers
– Free personalized web pages
? www.caringbridge.org
? www.carepages.com
– Websites for managing caring duties
? www.lotsahelpinghands.com
? www.thepatientpartnerproject.org
? www.sharethecare.org
- Support Groups
? The Wellness Community – for caregivers of cancer patients

Also, I have developed a meditation CD to assist Individuals in releasing the energy of burden. It is available at: http://cdbaby.com/cd/sherryobrian or http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B0026SGANU

My desire is to share resources, strength, & hope for all of those out there who give so much - may you also receive.

Author's Bio: 

Sherry O’Brian, LCSW, is the sole proprietor of Mind/Body/Spirit Inner-grations & specializes in personal growth & transformation; as well as working with those suffering from chronic illness, grief/loss & other emotional disorders. She also facilitates support groups for cancer patients and their family members; facilitates retreats for The Peaceful Woman; as well as develops seminars & workshops on mind/body/spirit healing as an independent contractor for several professional organizations.

She has integrated Energy Psychology into her life both professionally & personally. As a motivational speaker & psychotherapist workshops focus on mind/body/spirit healing & personal growth. Sharing innovative often cutting edge techniques to inspire, motivate & empower individuals. She is a Reiki Master & Ordained minister & assists others in reconnecting with their Divine Essence. Sherry has written several articles on energy-based psychotherapy, hypnotherapy & guided imagery. She has developed a meditation CD “Release & Transform Burden: a meditation to awaken the healing light within” to assist others in releasing emotional pain & transform their lives.

Sherry has over thirteen years experience in the oncology field, as well as seventeen years within the field of mental health. She is certified in Comprehensive Energy Psychology, Emotional Freedom Technique, Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapy, Psych-K™, Subtle Energy Therapy, Bereavement Counseling, & Guided Imagery.