Understand what an emotion is
An emotion is a “stirred up reaction” such as love, hate, fear, anger or grief which are also referred to as emotional overload symptoms. An emotion is aroused when a person views something as either good or bad. However, an emotion does not always have an external cause; it can also be created internally, that is, by a person’s thoughts. Therefore, we can be the source of our own emotional stress overload.
We all have emotions, and those of us who do not hide our emotions are referred to as emotional. I believe that we are born without emotions and that we learn our emotions the same way we learn to read and write. Our parents even teach us how to react emotionally to certain circumstances.
Two kinds of emotions
There are only two types of emotions: negative emotions and positive emotions. Negative emotions, including anger, fear and despair, make us feel unhappy or dissatisfied. Positive emotions, including love, joy and hope, are aroused by something that appeals to us.
Emotions come in varying degrees of strength. For example, we could call a very happy person overjoyed. Unfortunately, happiness is only possible if we learn to cope with our negative emotions.
Emotions can be very helpful. For example, in fear, the adrenal gland empties a hormone called adrenaline into the bloodstream, increasing the heart rate and raising the blood pressure. Much blood shifts from our digestive organs to the brain and skeletal muscles. The breathing rate increases as large amounts of sugar are dumped into the bloodstream. These emergency measures give the body added energy to face the crisis at hand.
While the hormone adrenaline causes the face to go pale and the mouth to go dry when we experience fear, the hormone called noradrenalin, causes our face to become flushed when we are angry.
If changes in our body continue for a prolonged period of time, tissue damage can result. For example, constant worry and fear can produce stomach ulcers. Strong emotions can make it hard to think, concentrate and solve problems. Worry will drain valuable mental energy needed to function creatively.
Emotional overload occurs when pent-up emotions become too great to bear and must be released, often through uncontrollable weeping. This explains why a person in emotional overload may weep at times without apparent reason.
The fear-adrenaline cycle
I experienced the fear-adrenaline cycle in a terrifying way when burnout struck with gale force. As I felt the waves of anxiety roll over me, the adrenaline rushed into my system, causing even greater fear and anxiety, probably because I was unaware of exactly what was happening. I thought I was “going nuts.” Eventually, I learned to simply relax; I began to be thankful that God was in control of His entire creation, instead of trying to fight those awful feelings. As my mind was put to rest because of putting my faith in God, peace would begin to flood my whole being.
Identify your emotions
At times in our lives, we all feel negative emotions – depression or worry or anger or hurt or guilt or frustration, or loneliness, to name a few. The first step to taking control of our emotions is to identify what we are really feeling inside. Secondly, we must accept the fact that our emotions are calling us to action. Thirdly, we need to realize that we have the power to change direction and take action.
Do you feel lost or as if something is missing in your life? Maybe you want to make a bigger difference in the world than you feel you are, but you aren’t sure how. So many of us walk through life, feeling numb and desperate for a deeper connection, but aren’t sure how to get it.
The two greatest days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out what your purpose is, but if you don’t know what your purpose is than you don’t know why you are here, and it can be hard to keep going.
I know this feeling all too well. I used to suffer immense inner turmoil while trying hard to find my purpose. I was in a job I hated, working in advertising under fluorescent lights, and suffocating from the stale corporate air. I saw people like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake shine so brightly when they performed. I wanted what they had, infectious passion, a thirsty love for life and an unyielding connection to their work.
I struggled daily to figure out my purpose, but it wasn’t until I took a step back and realized that my purpose isn’t “figure-outable” from my head that I found a way to get there. I thought to myself, “Maybe the problem isn’t that I don’t know what my purpose is; the problem is the way I am trying to find my purpose.”
We can’t think our way into our life’s passion and purpose, we have to do our way in. This means taking steps towards what you want, and removing those things in your life that you don’t want. I left my successful corporate job on a mission to find my happy, and it came by taking one step at a time and exploring many different passions. If you are looking for your purpose and passion, stop looking and start doing. These steps will help you.
How to Find Your Purpose and Passion
1. Get More Action
You can’t think your way into finding your life purpose; you have to do your way into it. Take a mental note from Nike and Just Do It. The more we act, the more we get clear on things. So instead of overthinking it — Will this work out? Should I try that? What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t make money at it? Start taking steps toward your goals and start trying new things. This will help you get out of your own way. I struggled for years trying to find out what my purpose was. This cycle only created a deeper lack of clarity. It wasn’t until I started doing that things changed for me. I began writing, and sent a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul. The second I received the letter of acceptance was unlike any ever before, love flooded into my heart and I knew that this was what I had to do with my life. You see though, I had to start writing to learn that my biggest passion was indeed writing. That only came with consistent action.
The experience is the reward; clarity comes through the process of exploring. Action is where you get results.
2. Drop From Your Head to Your Heart
Your heart is your best tool to access your true purpose and passion. Ask yourself what you love? Start taking steps to do what you love. When you are inspired and connected to your happy self, inspiration floods your heart and soul. When you lead from your heart, you are naturally more joyful and motivated to explore. By doing what you love, you will be inspired and gain insights into what brings you the most joy.
3. Break Up with The “ONE”
Many of us struggle because we try to find that ONE thing that we are meant to do; but trying to find only one thing is the reason why we feel like something is missing. The notion that we have only one thing we are meant for limits us from fulfilling our greatness. Take me for example; I have six different job titles. I’m a life coach, travel writer, author, speaker, teacher, mentor, designer, and each thing I do brings me joy, but none of these are my purpose, they are my passions. So start getting in touch with your passions! When you lead a passionate life you are living your life on purpose.
Let go of thinking there is only one purpose for you and embrace the idea that our purpose in life is to love life fully by putting ourselves into our life! This means we jump in and try new things; we stop resisting the unknown and we fully engage in what is happening right here, where we are. To lead a purposeful life, follow your passions.
When we live a passion-filled life we are living on purpose, and that is the purpose of life.That feeling that something is missing goes away when you lead a passion-filled life. The need to seek our purpose comes from a lack of passion. When you don’t feel connected to your life, you lack purpose and passion. To fix this emptiness simply add more passion.
To boil it down, remember this simple equation:
Passion + Daily Action = Purposeful Life
Consider that the real purpose of anyone’s life is to be fully involved in living. Try to be present for the journey and fully embrace it. Soon you will be oozing with passion, and you will feel so purposeful and fulfilled you will wonder how you lived life without it. Enjoy the journey into your own awesome life.
Today, people in every country are living longer than ever. Globally, there are an estimated 962 million individuals aged 60 or over, and this age group is growing faster than all others, according to the United Nations. And while many of them are healthy and able-bodied, disease and disability inevitably increase with age. As the aging of the world’s population accelerates, politicians, policy makers and physicians are scrambling to anticipate and address its impact on society and its institutions.
But one important group is being overlooked — the increasing number of people taking care of family members who are ill or disabled. Which leads to the question: Who is caring for the caregivers?
“No one can be a pillar of strength 24/7,” says Françoise Mathieu, a psychotherapist and specialist in an area known as “compassion fatigue.”Compassion fatigue refers to the phenomenon of perpetual caregivers — whether familial or professional — becoming physically and emotionally depleted by the process of ministering to others. “One study found that family members caring for a loved one with dementia reported very high rates of depression,” says Mathieu. Canadian artist Tony Luciani, who spent years caring for his mother as she declined into dementia, describes feeling a sense of almost personal dissolution. The experience, he says, “threw my sense of being into random directions without reason or purpose.”
At its most extreme, being a caregiver can lead to mood swings, exhaustion, irritability and cynicism, as well as feelings of anxiety, emptiness and overwhelm. That’s according to Hui-wen Sato, a pediatric intensive care unit nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Even professional caregivers like her — people who’ve been trained to work with the sick and dying — can succumb. “We had one patient with a very tragic background who had a code blue during my shift, and it was mentally, physically and emotionally taxing,” she recalls. “Then I got home and had two little girls to care for.” The next morning, she says, “it was extremely difficult to function like a ‘normal’ mother on a ‘normal’ day when I was still feeling so burdened about this patient.”
Another long-term effect of compassion fatigue can be a diminished ability to feel empathy for the people you’re caring for. Some researchers have described it as a “secondary traumatic stress disorder,” which comes from prolonged exposure to the suffering of others. While it’s an understandable defense mechanism, it can leave many caregivers feeling guilty and frustrated. They may increase their use of alcohol or drugs, gain or lose large amounts of weight, or take an overall nosedive in wellness. In fact, 17 percent of caregivers report their physical health has gotten worse as a direct result of caregiving.
The longer that someone provides care — whether it’s for a partner, parent, sibling or some other loved one — the more likely they are to experience negative effects. Due to busyness and shame, many struggle in silence, which compounds the problem. “All caregivers, both professional and not, need to know their limits, so they can ask for and get help,” says Sato. Below, advice on how to do just that — and maintain your own well-being — even when someone you love is ailing.
Many caregivers are experts at assembling a great team of professionals for their loved ones. They go to lengths to find the best surgeon, oncologist, general practitioner, physical therapist, etc. But they tend to pay a lot less attention to assembling their own crew.
Caregivers: Make a list of dependable relatives, friends, colleagues or other people whom you can call on to help you talk through challenging decisions or experiences, lend a hand with day-to-day tasks, or simply listen as you vent. Luciani recruited people in his community to assist with his mother, who would occasionally get lost when she went on walks. “I solved that by having neighborhood spotters, people who live in town I could call. Some would routinely text me, just to inform me of my mom’s whereabouts,” he says. “I appreciated it greatly. I could breathe again.”
For Sato, having coffee with a sympathetic friend was a life-saver. After the death of one patient, she recalls, “my friend sat with me and let me work through a lot of my difficult emotions. The safe place she gave me to be open and vulnerable was enough to revitalize me so that I could care for my own family and then go back to work for my next shift without feeling weighed down.”
Just as important, when people offer assistance, know that it’s OK to answer “Yes.” You’re not any less of a good caregiver if you do. The next time someone asks, “Is there anything I can help out with?” — and you know they really mean it — take a moment to think about your life and what’s going on. Then, tell them, “Yes, I could use a hand with … ”
Besides turning to family and friends, you might want to look into one of the many support groups that exist for caregivers. Both the Family Caregiver Allianceand AARP provide directories of online and in-person options around the US.
As a caregiver, you’ve had countless people tell you, “Please don’t forget to take care of yourself.” And when they do, you may think, “Easier said than done.”
We know it’s hard enough to practice healthy habits when our lives are stable. Then, when someone you love is ailing, among the first things to toss out the window are adequate sleep, nutritious food, and exercise. One study that looked at the caregivers of people with dementia found two-thirds of them experienced sleep disturbances.
While you’re acting from a positive impulse — you’re just so busy trying to be a good caregiver — neglecting yourself will hurt you and your ability to be there for someone else. This is doubly essential if you’re also caring for your own family in addition to a sick relative. Carving out time for a nap or a walk around the block is essential. “Whenever I had a few free hours,” says Luciani, “I’d jump on my bicycle and go like the wind down country roads. The physical exhaustion I felt afterward actually rejuvenated my body and mind. I always returned from those rides with hope.”
Recent research has shown that mindfulness — strategies and practices that cultivate a person’s ability to stay in the moment — can help fight burnout in nurses, and family caregivers can also benefit from it. Mindfulness isn’t just meditating on a cushion; it can also consist of focusing on your breath for a few minutes. If you’re not sure where to start, download an app for your phone, such as Calm, Insight Timer, or Stop, Breathe & Think (for these apps, the basic version is free but you will be charged if you opt for additional features or classes).
In long-term caregiving situations, putting aside your hobbies and passions, especially any creative ones, can feel like a no-brainer. They may seem supremely self-indulgent to take up in the face of a family member’s very real needs and demands. But those outlets of self-expression — whether it’s writing, gardening, playing music, building, baking, drawing or something else — can help you release complicated emotions and express things you can’t say in conversations, texts or emails with friends. Maybe you can’t quite put words to how you’re feeling, but a watercolor in panicked reds and oranges can let it out.
And you might be surprised by what else emerges. For Luciani, the process of photographing his mother, and letting her take some photos herself, not only relieved stress but also brought unexpected joy. During their photo sessions, he says, “Excitement trumped exhaustion.”
But be realistic about creative endeavors. Write a conversation or scene rather than a memoir; stitch a pillowcase, not a quilt; grow herbs on the windowsill, not your usual, feed-the-neighborhood garden; take a weekly photo for Instagram, not a series of family portraits.
Caregivers tend to be, well, giving people. “Caregivers may be compelled to keep going out of obligation, guilt or good intent that turns unhealthy due to poor boundary setting,” says Sato. “But if you’re not setting boundaries, that can turn unhealthy.” Try this: Say no to any requests that you think will drain you rather than buoy you.
This applies to both the small asks (making brownies for the community bake sale) and the big ones (hosting holiday dinner or the end-of-summer barbecue). If people in your life protest and say, “But you love hosting New Year’s brunch! It’s a tradition!”, tell them you did but things are different now. Also, think about what you need in your day-to-day life to stay afloat. If that means, say, receiving no texts or calls during certain hours because that’s the only time you can grab some rest, let your friends and family know.
When you’re tending a family member or spouse, you two already have a history and relationship. Sometimes, it can be hard to break out of the roles you played when the person was healthier. However, adjusting to the new normal of their illness can also lead to the two of you getting stuck in the roles of “caregiver” and “patient.” This might make it tough for you to sustain a sense of personal connection that transcends this script.
One way to re-establish your bond: Think creatively about their needs and your own, suggests Luciani. “Find a common activity. It wasn’t until I handed mom a small point-and-shoot camera that her purpose as storyteller appeared. It awakened her from a defeated attitude to a realization that life was still worthy of exploration.” Since compassion fatigue is, in part, a trauma that results from being around suffering, helping someone who’s ill lead a fuller life can be a lifeline for you, too.
Unlike doctors or nurses who take care of people as a profession, family caregivers are always on call. They can’t leave their loved ones behind and call it a day when the clock hits 5 PM. “For caregivers, there are issues that come up that are beyond what it’s possible for one person to do,” says Mathieu.
If you feel like you’re nearing the brink of what you can handle, call in a trusted member of your own team to pitch in for a day or a week. Or, consider calling on respite, or relief, services — temporary backup caregivers who can provide relief. These services, which can be free for eligible caregivers, can give you a chance to take a break.