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Archive for the ‘Feeling Overwhelmed by Life’ Category

Compassion Fatigue: Seeking a Caregiver Support Group and PTSD Support

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

What does a caregiver have in common with a soldier, firefighter, and doctor? Compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue (CF) stems from the daily sustained amount of compassion and energy required when caring for an individual with special needs or a chronic health condition.

Symptoms of CF can be similar to the signs of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and may erupt as caregivers begin to absorb pain from the individuals they are caring for. Mental health symptoms such as anger, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of joy, and hopelessness are common. This is detrimental to both parties and ultimately deteriorates the quality of care being provided. Ultimately the caregivers may need the same kind of PTSD support.

We know self-care benefits caregivers but many times caregivers neglect their health and ignore the early warning signs of CF. As they push themselves to maintain the strength to forever care for their loved one, a superhuman mentality prevails and self care takes a backseat. This may lead not only to the symptoms of CF but also relationships issues.

As the mother of a young child with special needs, I know first-hand self care is critical in maintaining longevity as a caretaker. The first step is awareness. If you are uninformed about CF you may not understand the behaviors you must change and the ramifications if you do not. The second step is to re-train your thoughts about self-care. It is not selfish to refuel yourself as you care for your child. Think about the flight attendant telling you to put your oxygen mask on first – if you are not OK you cannot help your child.

The third step is to retrain your behavior as you retrain your thoughts. Simply stated one must exercise, connect with other grown-ups, talk, cry, journal, meditate, dance, eat healthy, sing, take a warm bath, pick flowers, doodle, pray, and most importantly, laugh out loud. A caregiver support group may be a good outlet for sharing your experience with others. If you find you are doing these things and not gaining any pleasure or benefit, talking with a professional can help.

Achieve Balance: Balancing Life and Work

Friday, September 28th, 2012

In today’s fast paced world, at times it may seem impossible to balance your life. Many people feel they must wake up with their feet on the ground running in order to meet the demands of the day.

Whether it is taking care of the household duties, meeting the needs of a demanding job, or pleasing the spouse and children, balancing your life without being struck down by physical or emotional issues can be challenging at times. When an event, task, relationship, or thought is overpowering, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and out of control.

Managing tasks, emotions, relationships, and retain self-respect is essential to a healthy and balanced life. It is important to not be too one sided about anything, and balancing life and work is key. In fact, combining opposites is the key to staying in balance. For example, all work and no play is just as unhealthy as all play and no work. Being too invested in self-interests and having no interest in others will cause an imbalance just as too much time invested in others and not enough time in self.

While it is important to strive to enhance and make ourselves better, self-acceptance is essential to balance. Know the difference between dieting to combat obesity or diabetes and dieting to look like the swimsuit models you saw in last month’s People Magazine. Accept your body shape and your genetic makeup while dedicating yourself to a healthy lifestyle.

Do you feel like your life is out of balance? A therapist utilizing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can help you move away from extremes and attain balance again by helping you learn mindfulness, distress tolerance skills, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills. Finding balance in life and achieving balance can lead to healthier relationships, greater self-confidence, and a more fulfilling life. If you are struggling, why not call a therapist today?

Tia Parsley, MEd, LPC, LCDC has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

Mothers Who Work

Friday, September 14th, 2012

From PTO boardrooms to corporate boardrooms everywhere, the debate rages on. What is better for kids, a mom who works full time outside the home or a stay at home mom who works as a full time parent and homemaker? Just as important, what is better for the mom? First we must be clear that both types of moms are working moms and there is no such thing as a mom who doesn’t work.

If we look back in history we find mothers who work in fields while older and younger women in the village worked to nurse and care for the children. During the industrial revolution we saw both moms and children working to earn money for the family. Children with working mothers in this instance were likely to accompany their mom to work.

Today in third-world cultures women work from dusk till dawn securing sustenance for the family. There is no such thing as a mom who doesn’t work, and moms that get enough sleep may be hard to come by too!

Today, it appears deciding to work outside the home versus inside may affect a mother’s health. A recent Akron University study found that mothers who worked full time steadily before and after the birth of their first child had better mental and physical health. The study by Dr. Frech and her co-author, Sarah Demaske considered nearly 30 years of data provided by 2,540 mothers as participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth.

Far from being a ‘call to work’ for stay at home mothers or a condemnation of personal choices made by women based on advantages and disadvantages, the study hopes to illuminate that choosing to work full time outside the home as a mom is not a bad thing. Those mothers dealing with the guilt of leaving children with caregivers to work outside the home can perhaps feel a little better knowing first, mothers have been doing the same thing for millennia, and second, they may be doing something positive for their own health and wellbeing. The best careers for moms are the ones that they choose be it staying home going to work or a balance of both.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC, LMFT  has experience assisting adolescents and their families with issues such as addiction, anger management, depression, anxiety, communication, parenting, and stress management.

 

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