Avoid Burnout: Can a Helper’s High be Addicting?
- May 15, 2019
- Lis Williams
🎁 Giving is good for us!
It’s that simple. The research confirms it…
- Giving activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect.
- We feel more grateful when we give, and gratitude leads to happiness.
- Our health improves by reducing stress and strengthening our immune system.
- Altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain – such as oxytocin – producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”
But can a helper’s high be addicting?
Yes! And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As long as we’re remembering the importance of self-care and taking steps to replenish ourselves, the risk of over-giving is low.
If, however, you find it difficult to know how much is too much, you might be at risk for burnout or “compassion fatigue” as it’s called in the industry. The reality is that burn-out is common among volunteers and professionals in the non-profit arena. Why?
Non-profit organizations have limited resources. Both financial and human capital are hard to come by and there just never seems to be enough of either. That’s why non-profits depend on a robust supply of volunteers to fill in the gaps.
If you volunteer, you might have experienced this. My clients tell me it can be challenging to feel like you’re already giving so much and then be asked for even more – whether time or money. You want to say yes, but you’re afraid if you do they’ll just keep asking.
So, who’s at risk of burn-out or compassion fatigue?
That is, if you’re already feeling overwhelmed by having too much do. Adding more stuff, even if it’s good stuff, can lead us to stress and frustration.
You’re also at risk if you’re an empath. Empaths are people who are high on the empathic spectrum and actually feel what is happening in others in their own bodies.
As a result, empaths can have incredible compassion for people, but they often get exhausted from feeling “too much” – unless they develop strategies to safeguard their sensitivities and develop healthy boundaries.
How do you avoid compassion fatigue?
The best (and easiest) solution is prevention. Here are some suggestions to keep you in prime form for healthy giving…
- Do a self-assessment before you give to be sure you’re in a good place financially and emotionally.
- Choose a cause you’re passionate about, so the time and commitment are meaningful and fulfilling.
- Share your natural gifts and talents, rather than agreeing to do something you don’t enjoy.
- Be clear up-front about how much you’re willing to give.
- Learn to say “no” and establish healthy boundaries.
- Be sure the positives of giving outweigh any negatives.
- Practice “compassionate detachment” – maintaining some distance between you and the cause or people served.
- Recognize when you’re beginning to feel frustrated or burnt-out and take a much-needed break.
Giving in any form should be something that results in meaning
and fulfillment – even though it can be challenging at times.
Making giving a way of life doesn’t mean you need to give until it hurts. We need you healthy, happy, and whole in order to make your AWE-thentic Impact in the world.
The need will always be there. Will you?
Be Bold. Be Daring. Be AWE-dacious!
Overcome Overwhelm: 10 Questions to Find Out if you’re an Over-Giver
- April 9, 2019
- Lis Williams
Despite the historically high level of divisiveness in our world today – there is one thing I think we can all agree on:
🤦 Overwhelm is Everywhere!
Even before the onslaught of Covid-19, our normal state of being was one of overwhelm. Working long hours, sacrificing vacation days, little free time to do things that bring us joy. And how many of us take time to sit in silence to be sure we receive the guidance we need to follow our calling and make a difference in the world?
Female Entrepreneurs & Execs are Overrun with Overwhelm
Many of my clients are female entrepreneurs or executives. In addition to managing their business or career, they typically have children and responsibilities at home that keep them running on a treadmill that never stops. There’s the shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, bills to pay, schedules to coordinate…and oh, so much more. Home schooling anyone?
Add to this the stress of ever-present technology…a barrage of texts and e-mails, social media accounts, and the fear-inducing updates from the news outlets. It’s no wonder our minds never stop, we don’t sleep well, and our to-do list just keeps growing.
Giving Back…or Over-Giving?
When a client tells me she wants to focus more on philanthropy or start giving back through her business, the first question we explore is whether or not now is the right time.
It’s not that I don’t want to encourage women to give. I just want to be sure they’re not “over-giving”. Because we women do have a tendency to do that – and it’s not healthy!
We give to everyone else first – to our families, friends, neighbors, schools, churches, communities, the world. And then we wonder why we’re exhausted, burnt out, angry, and resentful.
As you can imagine, this doesn’t make for good living or good giving. As challenging as it may be to sometimes say “no,” we must remind ourselves that we simply cannot give from empty cups.
10 questions to ask yourself to find out if you’re an over-giver…
Does this sound like you?
If so, you might be inadvertently contributing to the overwhelm in your life.
1. Do you sleep less than 7 hours a night?
2. Can you remember the last time you took a bath, read a book, or just sat in the silence?
3. Do you have a daily spiritual practice?
4. Do you exercise and eat well?
5. Do you disconnect from technology daily?
6. Are you the go-to person at home or at the office for planning events, birthdays, holiday celebrations?
7. Are you the person the school, church, non-profit, always asks to volunteer because they know you will?
8. Do you stay in toxic relationships or situations because you feel bad about removing yourself from them?
9. Do you have a hard time saying no when asked to do something – even (and especially) if you really don’t want to?
10. Are you having any fun? (Be honest here!)
For women who really want to intentionally give…
If a woman is already an over-giver but really wants to become more intentional and strategic with her giving, my question to her is what might she eliminate from her plate? What does she need to learn to say no to?
What busy work is getting in the way of her life’s work??!!
Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty. Are all the responsibilities really ours to bear? Are the things on our to-do list moving us toward our higher purpose? Are we following our life’s path – or have we taken a detour based on what everyone else wants or expects of us?
This desire she has – to become a philanthropist or humanitarian – to create a giving program for her company and include her team and clients in the effort…This is more than just another thing to add to the always growing to-do list. This is an opening – a doorway – that leads to her destiny if she’ll allow it.
She senses a calling from deep within…
She imagines a life that is more relaxed, joyful, meaningful. She wonders what it would be like to have the courage to live differently, counter-culturally even.
If you can relate, then I’m here to tell you there IS something more for you. A way of living that is more fulfilling and purposeful than perhaps you’ve ever permitted yourself to imagine. A way of living that allows you to get off the merry-go-round, write your own story, and make all your dreams come true.
I invite you to explore just what this might look like for you. Need help? I’m here for you…
Be Bold. Be Daring. Be AWE-dacious!