5 Good Reasons to take a Mental Health Day from Work…Minus the Guilt

day-off

 

You are not a machine, you are human!

As helping professionals, many of us may feel like firefighters.  We are constantly faced with situations where we are putting out fires.  This profession can be exhausting, if you do not find a way to reset and refocus for the next session or next day.

Research shows that many Americans rarely take time off from work.  Further, many in the helping profession allow guilt to get in the way of taking a much needed mental health day.  You love what you do and there are times when you are mentally exhausted.  However, guilt will not allow you to take a day off.

How do you get past this guilt?  You must first ask yourself, what purpose does this guilt serve in my life?

Can you give your clients the best possible you by working through mental exhaustion?

Is it fair to you or those you serve to get a mentally exhausted version of you?

 

Helping others begins with first helping ourselves!

As helping professionals, we find ourselves in a unique position.  We are providing care for a living and we must save time and energy for ourselves.

I have struggled in this area for many years.  I found myself consumed with guilt when feeling mentally exhausted and needing a day off.  Who would help my clients?  My teammates need me.  What will I tell my supervisor?  Again, I had to remind myself, my clients and teammates do not deserve a burned out version of Sharise.  This statement is used as a guide when deciding if a mental health day is needed.

What are good reasons to take a mental health day?

  1. Stress

We know the negative impacts stress has on us mentally, physically, psychologically and spiritually.  The work we do can be stressful and it is imperative that we listen to our bodies in order to gage when the stress is taking a toll on our ability to be effective.

  1. You can do something for yourself

As a wise woman stated “self-care for the selfless.”  I cannot stress enough that you give so much, so often to so many that doing something for yourself is a requirement as part of your self-care regimen.

  1. You can rest

How many 12 hour days have you worked?  How many hours have you spent worrying about the well-being of your clients?  The mental energy exerted to be effective in your work requires rest.  Resting consists of no checking emails, voicemails, completing paperwork or any other work related activity.  Disconnect rest and repeat #3!!!

  1. You will be more engaged when you return

We must intermittently disengage in order to actively re-engage.  View taking this well-deserved mental health day as time to recharge, re-energize and reset in order to be as close to 100% effective as possible.  When we take time away from work, we return more effective, more engaged and find renewal in the work we love.

  1. You can tap into your creative mind

A cluttered mind is not an effective mind.  Use this day to de-clutter your mind and be more “mindful” versus “mind-full.”  When we are operating off of a cluttered mind, it is nearly impossible to tap into your creative mind.  Our creative minds will allow us to think quickly on our feet as well as the ability to get through tough situations which will ultimately lead to our clients receiving the best versions of us!

 

We chose this profession because we love helping others and want to effect change in the world.  It is so common to get lost in work and lose sight of what really makes you happy.  Find what makes you happy outside of work.  Doing so can make a difference in your work-life balance and satisfaction.  A Refueled, Renewed and Re-centered helper is a win-win for YOU and YOUR CLIENTS!

More information on self-care for the helpers, work-life balance and satisfaction is included in the upcoming workbook: Walking the Tight Rope of Life: Refuel. Renew and Re-Center Your Work-Life Demands!

I would love to hear from you!  What struggles do you have with taking a day off from work?

How have you find a healthy work-life balance?

Overcoming YOU! 8 Powerful Ways of Conquering FEAR

imagesN0IBMQDZFear is one of the few natural emotions. We are born with two fears; the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears are learned responses brought to the child by its environment and taught to the child by its parents. The purpose of natural fear is to build in a bit of caution. Children who are made to feel that fear is not okay, it is wrong to express it, and in fact, that they shouldn’t even experience it; will have a difficult time appropriately dealing with their fear as adults.  Fear that is continually repressed becomes panic, a very unnatural emotion.  Perhaps, viewing fear through this lens could explain why many of us struggle with conquering our fears.  Facing your fears can be a process and overcoming these fears will happen in its own time.  Fear does not have to be a part of who you are.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear as you traverse through your unique journey to overcoming fear.  YOU are the constant in everything that happens or does not happen in your life.  Oftentimes fear is a huge barrier in making a decision.  How many times have you allowed fear to be the driver while you ride shotgun?  You cannot have faith and fear, you must pick one.

If you choose faith: Check out these 8 powerful ways for getting on the other side of fear:

  1. Identify: Be specific in identifying your fear(s). What are you afraid of? What is wreaking havoc in your life? What pictures are you creating in your mind? Where do you feel the fear in your body? How do you react to the fear? What triggers this fear? Be an observer of what is going on within you!
  2. Journaling: After identifying these fears, get them down on paper. Getting these fears on paper is another strategy of getting this negative energy out. Seeing these fears on paper can help you make sense of them.
  3. Counseling/Coaching: Getting an objective perspective and talking through these fears with a licensed professional is another powerful way to assist you in conquering your fears. A professional can help you examine if you have a fear of success or a fear of failure. While therapy can be powerful and even life changing, make sure the therapist is a good fit for you.
  4. The Now: Be present in the moment. Oftentimes fear comes from past learning experiences and anticipating future failures. You have no control over the past, but you do have control over the present moment. Grounding techniques through breathing is a great way to get back to the present. Try the “4-7-8 Breathing Technique.” Place your tongue behind your teeth. Breathe in quietly for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds.
  5. Gratitude: Instead of ruminating within your fears, spend that time expressing gratitude. What are you grateful for? If you are fearful of public speaking, be grateful for the opportunity to speak in front of people. If you are fearful of taking a test, be grateful that you have the qualifications to take the test.
  6. Awareness: Be aware of your thoughts, daily routines and habits. What are you reading? What are you watching? Who are you spending time around? Some ways to combat your fears are to read on your specific fears, watch a motivation video and/or spend time around successful people. Any successful person has overcome some form of fear.
  7. Nutrition: The food you eat can have a huge impact on how you feel. All the sugars, additives and other chemicals in some foods can have an effect in creating balance in our minds and bodies. Find a balanced diet that works for you and make it a lifestyle
  8. Be a verb: The only way out of your fear is through it. The more time we spend ruminating within the fear, the more power we give it. When we take action, we weaken the fear. Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will! Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Whatever fears you are facing, please remember that YOU are bigger than your fears. Your WHY is bigger than your fears.  Your largest fear carries your greatest growth.  If you are not growing, you are dying.  Do not let fear determine this fate.

“The fears we don’t face become our limits.” Robin Sharma

I would love to hear from you!

What fear is keeping you stuck? What fear(s) have you overcome?

 

Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in individual life coaching and counseling.   For more information or assistance with adjustment and life transitions, please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com

 

 

“I’m too busy!” 4 Ways to turn “Busyness” into Production

“I’m too busy” may be the most overused statement. This statement is often followed by its close relative “I don’t have time.” I am guilty of using both statements! Busyness consumes time and makes time a liability.  Production makes time an asset. Being busy is often incorrectly associated with being productive.  Filling every minute of your day does not equate to high productivity.  It is possible to be productive for 3 hours and be busy for an entire day!

Busyness is creating a lengthy “to do “list and then multi-tasking in an attempt to complete every task on this list. At this point, the tasks are in control of you, you are more likely to cram another task onto the list (after all what’s one more task) and as a result the list does not get completed.  Most of us do not have time to complete a laundry list of tasks in one day and still enjoy life.  After attempting to complete these tasks you may be left feeling exhausted, overwhelmed or unaccomplished.  Production is prioritizing a “must do today list,” being realistic about what you can get done in a day and more importantly being in control of your tasks and your day.

How can you change your focus from being busy to being productive?

The following 4 strategies can be used as guides in assisting you in focusing on production:

Learn to Say No: For those of you who follow my blogs, “saying no” has become a common theme in me assisting you on your personal development journey.  The most productive people are slow to yes, practicing self-control to be certain not to overextend themselves.  The “busy people” consistently say yes quickly, often make impulsive decisions that result in overextension.

Take your time responding to emails (and other social media messages): A good friend of mine and I recently had a conversation about the distractions cause by smart phone notifications alerting us of a new message.  When receiving these notifications, most of us feel compelled to respond immediately.  Imagine starting your day responding to every notification.  You wake up to your phone alarm at 5am and because you have your phone in hand, you begin checking emails and other messages.   Before you know it, it is 7 am and you are still responding to and sending messages.  Find the time of day that works best for you and try to commit to that time span. (I do not recommend waking up to your phone alarm and checking emails before you get out of bed).  Set aside time to check emails and decide whether to “Do, Defer or Delete” the messages.

Make a “MUST GET DONE TODAY LIST:” Trade in your lengthy to do lists for the MUST DO list. MUST is the operative word.  The Must Do list should be no longer than 3-5 items depending on your lifestyle.  The list should not include tasks such as pick up the kids, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking dinner because these are things that you have to do and you are going to do.  Adding such items makes the list lengthy; thus creating busyness.  The Must Do list should include action steps taking you toward an ultimate goal.  For example if your goal is to write a book, an item on your list might include writing 2 pages of the first chapter.  If your goal is to start a business items may include scheduling an appointment with a successful business owner, reading an article on building a successful business and so on.

Learn to Uni-Task: We live in a fast paced society that values multi-tasking.  People are hired and promoted because of their abilities to multi-task.  However, focusing on completing a single task can actually increase your results.  Uni-tasking is not working on one thing for weeks or months until you finish it.  Uni-tasking means that while you are working on a task, work on just that task until it is complete.  If the task is important to you, it deserves your undivided attention.  Click here for my blog on uni-tasking versus multi-tasking.

By no means am I dismissing that being busy can have its merits. One of the major differences between busy people and productive people are busy people consider busyness as a lifestyle, while productive people consider busyness as a season.

Now it’s time to hear from you! What experiences have you had with being busy and/or being productive?

 

Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in individual life coaching and counseling. For more information or assistance with time management and stress management, please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com

 

Four Types of Stress-Which Group Are You In?

 

Image result for images for stress

My late grandfather used to say “Don’t be stressed, kick stresses’ (behind).” The thought of stress can be enough to make you stressed. Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives. Some people have more effective ways of coping with stress resulting in a quicker recovery, while others struggle to find ways to cope. Stress management has become one of the most sought after interventions, especially during the holiday season. Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. A stressful event can trigger the fight, flight or freeze response (see here for more information on fight, flight, freeze); causing hormones to “surge” through the body.

Oftentimes when we think of stress, we think of “bad stress” because again the term stress itself usually carries a negative connotation with it. Managing the “bad stress” and the stress that can be life threatening can be complicated and confusing as there are different types of stress that will require unique interventions. However, there is some good stress. Some stress can even save your life and boost your immune system. This good stress is referred to as eustress. It also gets the heart pumping, increases your breathing rate, makes you perspire more and causes chemicals reactions throughout your system. The big difference is in the type of chemicals you produce when you are excited and happy; verses being excited and apprehensive or unhappy. When we are in a “good” stress situation, you get a “runners high” type of chemical combination. Let’s take a look at the different types of stress and the most effective ways to manage them.

 

Acute Stress: Acute stress is the most common form of stress. It comes from demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future. Acute stress is gripping and exciting in small doses, but too much is exhausting. For example, a combination of fast runs up and down a challenging hill can be exhilarating early in the day. That same run late in the day can be trying, tedious and wearing. With that being said, overdoing short-term stress can lead to psychological distress, tension headaches, back pain, upset stomach and other symptoms.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA) acute stress is short term, and doesn’t have enough time to do the extensive damage associated with long-term stress. Fortunately, acute stress symptoms are recognized by most people. It is a lengthy list of what has gone amiss in their lives: the loss of an important contract, an overdrawn bank account, deadlines they’re rushing to meet, their child’s occasional problems at school and so on. Most of us can probably relate to this laundry list of things going wrong in our lives, as life happens on life’s terms. No need to hit the panic button! However, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms on a consistent basis (several times per week) as a result of these problems; click here for a free consultation.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Emotional distress (anger, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, depression)
  • Gastrointestinal problems (upset stomach, digestive problems, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome.)
  • Muscular Tension (tension headaches, back pain, shoulder pain and son on)
  • Over arousal-which can lead to increase in blood pressure, sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, dizziness and so on

How can I cope with Acute Stress?

  • Recognize the signs. Listen to your body. If you are exhausted, over aroused, overwhelmed; it may be time to “take 5.” Start by taking 5 minutes to step away from whatever you are doing in order to give your mind a chance to slow down in order for you to re-group.
  • Set priorities: Decide what has to be done today and what can wait. Do not overextend yourself by adding additional tasks that will add more stress. Learn to say no (to stress) and yes to you.
  • Lean on your support: Stress can take over your life if you allow it. No one can live in this world without help. Seek out support groups of individuals with similar experiences. You do not have to go through this alone. You are bigger than your stress. You will defeat this!
  • Exercise/Stress coping programs: Take a walk, attend a yoga, meditation or tai chi class. While exercise (in moderation) is good for us, it is important to listen to your body so you do not over train, thus creating more stress.

Episodic Acute Stress occurs in people who suffer acute stress frequently, whose lives are so out of control that they live in chaos and crisis. They’re always in a rush, but always late. If something can go wrong, it does. They take on too much, have too much on their plates, and struggle to organize the numerous self-inflicted demands and pressures screaming for their attention. People who suffer from episodic acute stress typically describe themselves as having “a lot of nervous energy,” they tend to be abrupt and sometimes their irritability comes across as hostility. Another form of episodic acute stress comes from ceaseless worry. In this form, one sees disaster around every corner and pessimistically foresees tragedy in every situation. As a result, interpersonal relationships deteriorate rapidly when others respond with hostility, thus causing the world to become a very stressful, dangerous, unrewarding, punitive place where something awful is always about to happen.

The most common symptoms of episodic acute stress include:

  • Frequent bouts of over-arousal, which include persistent tension headaches, migraines, hypertension, chest pain and heart disease.

How can I cope with Episodic Acute Stress?

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms: If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, contact your primary care doctor. To find a primary care doctor within your geographical location, click here.
  • Lifestyle changes: You may be used to operating with a full plate and possibly adding seconds to that plate when the main course hasn’t even been touched. Consider holding off on the seconds and focusing on the main course. I promise you will remain busy with just the main course as your task and you may even complete a task. Give it a try!

Chronic Stress is a state of prolonged and continuous stress. The (sympathetic) nervous system that helps you deal with the fight-or-flight response is always turned on. As a result this type of stress wears people down day after day, month after month, and year after year. Chronic stress destroys bodies, minds, spirits and lives. It’s the stress of poverty, dysfunctional families, being trapped in an unhappy marriage, or in a despised job or career. Chronic stress sets in when a person can’t see a way out of a bad situation. It’s the stress of relentless demands and pressures for extended periods. With no hope, the individual gives up searching for solutions. Some chronic stresses stem from traumatic, early childhood experiences that become internalized and can remain painful and present.

The worst aspect of chronic stress is that people become immune to it; they suppress it. People are immediately aware of acute stress because it’s new and it affects our day to day situations; they ignore chronic stress because it’s old, familiar, and, sometimes comfortable.

The most common symptoms of chronic stress include:

Anxiety

Depression

Difficulty Concentrating

Lack of Sleep

Social isolation,

Headache

Abdominal pain, back pain

Hypertension

Panic attacks

Cardiovascular diseases

How Can I Cope with Chronic Stress?

  • Recognize the signs. If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms as a result of any past trauma, contact a physician or mental health professional.
  • Treatment of chronic stress may require extended medical as well as mental health therapy, and stress management.

Traumatic Stress: Trauma is defined as experiencing or witnessing life-threatening events such as war, natural disasters, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults such as rape. Threats to psychological or social integrity can also be traumatic. Studies have shown that most survivors of trauma return to normal within about six months. However, for some people, the intense reactions can persist or worsen over time. People experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often experience flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, uncontrollable thoughts, uncontrollable shaking, heart palpitations, tension headaches and increased arousal (overly alert, easily startled, difficulty sleeping). For more information on PTSD, click here.

How can I cope with Traumatic Stress?

  • Write about what it means to you that the traumatic event occurred. How did it affect your beliefs about yourself, others and the world? How did it affect your sense of trust, safety, relationships and intimacy?
  • If you are feeling stuck, seek help from a counselor trained in PTSD.

The information I shared with you was not designed to cause more stress but to bring awareness to the different types of stress, the impacts they have on the “whole person” and to provide resources for the help that is available to assist you in coping with stress.

Feel free to share some strategies you have used to deal with any of the 4 types of stress Acute, Episodic Acute, Chronic or Traumatic Stress.

 

Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in relationship building and work-life balance. For more information or assistance with stress management, please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com

 

Say Goodbye to Self-Guilt & Hello to Self-Compassion: Tips for reframing self-guilt

images[1] (2) - Copy

Guilt can rear its ugly head in many facets of your life. You feel guilty because you work long hours, leaving minimal time for your family. You feel guilty because “life happened” forcing you to devote more time to your personal life and less to work. You feel guilty because you do not have the energy to complete another task or an event you RSVP’d to months ago.   And….the most common form of guilt is saying no to everything and everyone else but saying yes to you; better known as self-compassion or self-care.

By no means am I implying that self-guilt is completely bad. Guilt can be a sign that you want to be better and you want more. There is always room for improvement; it is healthy to strive for being a better you each day and holding yourself accountable. Sometimes a little guilt can be the fuel you need to make some changes. However, when you find yourself consistently feeling guilty for wanting to say no, needing to take a day off, wanting to treat yourself and wanting to enjoy life; it may be time to evaluate your level of self-compassion.

These tips can help you reframe the way you view self-guilt:

  1. Get in wise mind. Guilt is an emotion and emotions are important in certain situations (loving our spouses, children). Getting in wise mind is the medium between reason and emotion. Wise mind is based off your life experiences and what you know to be true. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed with guilt, ask yourself, “What would wise mind say?”
  2. Say Yes to You. When you say yes to everything and everyone else, you are saying no to someone very important-YOU!! Feeling guilty for saying no to a request may be perceived as “selfish.” Allow me to explain; someone asks you to do something or invites you to an event and for whatever reason you want to decline. But your guilt will not allow you to decline and you say yes to a request and no to yourself. Remember, no one is going to feel guilty for taking from you so don’t you dare feel guilty for taking care of you. I discuss this concept at length here.
  3. Use Guilt for Insight Only. Why do you feel guilty? What changes can you make? If you feel you have genuinely done something wrong, focus on the lesson and allow it to motivate you to embrace being better.
  4. Apologize, Accept and Let It Go. What purpose does the guilt serve in your life? How is your guilt helping your current situation? If you have done something wrong to someone; apologize and let it go. If someone is not ready to accept your apology; accept this as a part of their healing process. Allow them the time and space they need and work toward letting it go. Your guilt will not help the situation.

 

Do not put yourself on trial and render a “guilty verdict” for every decision you make. Remember self-compassion and self- guilt cannot co-exist. It is impossible to truly take care of yourself while feeling guilty for taking care of yourself.

Feel free to contact Sharise Hemby-Nance at vitaminchealing@gmail.com.

*Serious inquires only