Alayna Mastrippolito, Author, Certified Peer Supporter
Are you always taking care of others? Perhaps you work as a nurse or a counselor, or maybe you’re the main source of income for your household, the caretaker of a sick relative, or you just happen to be the person that those in your life come to for help. You may experience compassion fatigue from time to time.
Compassion fatigue is the emotional and physical burden created by caring for others in distress. It’s the cost of losing yourself in the process of caring for others. Compassion fatigue symptoms may include anxiety, depression, feeling overwhelmed, irritation, frustration, worthlessness, isolation, and physical ailments.
It’s possible to take care of others without experiencing compassion fatigue, and it all starts with how you take care of yourself. The key is to allow yourself to make YOU a priority. Those who suffer from compassion fatigue often experience feelings of shame and selfishness around prioritizing themselves over others, but it’s necessary to give yourself that time in order to be able to take care of others. A way to ensure that you’ll take care of yourself is to create your own self-care plan. This allows you to uphold your own physical and mental well-being consistently, and it doesn’t have to take up much of your schedule.
Another important component of limiting compassion fatigue is having good boundaries. Boundaries allow you to love yourself and others at the same time. If you feel overwhelmed or taken advantage of, it’s hard to maintain your compassion to begin with. Setting boundaries within caretaking doesn’t mean you’re leaving others in the dust; this can look like asking for assistance or offering to help at a different time. By setting boundaries, you’re able to take care of your own needs while also taking care of the needs of others. Helping others should not be hurtful to you.
Try connecting back to the reason you began helping people in the first place when you feeling a bout of compassion fatigue. Your altruism likely gives you a sense of meaning which is important to your life purpose. Don’t overextend yourself to the point of forgetting the reasons why you care or getting so burnt out that you can’t help anymore.
You deserve to be taken care of too.
Getting REady for BAck to School
Mary Tanner, Author MSW, LISW-S, M.Ed.
Talk of back to school can trigger parents as much as children. Going back to homework, lunch money, after school programs, car pool etc. etc. can evoke a stress response in even the most seasoned parent. So, what can we do? First of all, Moms, Dads, Guardians, Caregivers, relax. Everything will be OK. Have fun in the remaining days of summer!
When parents ask me what they can do to help their child get ready for back -to- school, I start with the basics. I call them the “Big Four” This is a recommendation I give year- round.
If you do those 4 things with and for your child, you are giving them the best chance to feel good about themselves and to perform well at whatever activity in which they partake. Sometimes, the Big Four gets put on the back burner during the summer. It is truly beneficial to be consistent and do these things year -round. You are helping yourself too, Adults. You will have less irritable, more cooperative kiddos with which to contend. The Big Four applies to all kids big and small and to their adults, as well.
I recommend limiting screen time. Children, young and old are spending way too much time on their screens. This is one of the biggest obstacles that interfere with sleep and exercise. I have had young clients who take their I-phones, I-pads, laptops to bed with them. This is a very bad idea! One little guy I was seeing was staying up all night playing games, watching shows and falling asleep at school. I got to the bottom of it and told his Guardian, who didn’t know. She put a stop to it by simply taking all electronics away at bedtime. It was a fight, but one that was necessary.
On the subject of screen time, it’s good to shut off all screens an hour before bed time. The blue light emitted from all screens interferes with our sleep cycle and makes it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. If your child is experiencing difficulty with sleep, talk to your pediatrician.
If your child is shy or seems to have trouble making friends, summer is a good time to practice social skills. Talk to your child about communicating with others. Demonstrating skills and role playing can help them learn and develop better interpersonal skills.
Playdates are also helpful. Spending time with friends during the summer can help with back-to-school worries. Knowing they have friends at school eases transitions.
If your child is starting at a new school, ask the school for recommendations, if there are summer activities that will allow your child to meet classmates. There may be a local recreation center or swimming pool where children from their school go. I love libraries. They offer fun programs that encourage reading and may be a good place to meet other children.
It's important to always talk about school in positive terms. If the previous school year was difficult for your child, offer them hope and encouragement that the next school year will be better and you are there to support them.
If your child has experienced something upsetting, or seems anxious or depressed, talk to your school. Most schools have mental health therapists and counselors on site. It’s good to jump on potential issues early. Don’t let concern that your child will be labeled stand in your way. School resources are there to help.
Covid has caused issues for everyone. Educators are concerned students aren’t as far along in their learning because of lock downs and conducting classes via computers. Children are resilient and they will catch up. We, as the adults in their lives, can be their support and can help them see the fun side of learning. Learning doesn’t just occur in the classroom, give your children experiences, nature walks, trips to the playground, regular trips to the library, time at the pool, a picnic in the park. All of these and more are opportunities for learning.
Have fun with your child! Again, enjoy the remaining days of summer!
Alayna Mastrippolito, Author, Certified Peer Supporter
Transitions can feel intimidating, especially when experiencing a major change like transferring to a new school or moving from elementary to middle or middle to high school. Your child may be worried about several factors including making friends, bullies, school work, getting lost, or even whether or not they’ll be able to open their locker. Let’s talk about how to make this transition as smooth and comfortable as possible!
One suggestion for handling school nerves is to have them discuss or write out what they’re specifically afraid of, and then note which fears are out of their control. The idea is to shift the focus off of the things they can’t control and direct their energy towards the things they can control. When they’re done, take time to discuss or write the positive aspects of the transition so they can potentially get a little excited about it!
To prepare for the transition itself, it’s a good idea to get into the school routine the week before it starts. This may include getting supplies together, keeping a realistic bedtime, and encouraging more social time with school friends. If they’re going to a new school, see if they can visit the building before school is in session so they can know their way around.
Finally, ensure that your child is practicing self-care! This means taking care of physical health (enough water, nutrition, exercise, and sleep) and also mental health (activities that make them feel relaxed and rejuvenated). These actions will put them in the right headspace to feel their best no matter what happens at school.
Understand that it’s normal to feel nervous, and the nerves are what keep your child motivated to do their best! Remind your child that they’ve handled transitions before and can do it again… and they just might enjoy themselves!
Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant & DBT Certified Therapist
The world is calling for more inclusive and compassionate ways to communicate and understand the full spectrum of gender, sexuality, and relationship preferences. Let's explore what "inclusion" means - it is about welcoming, accepting, and advancing a diverse mix of peoples.
It is imperative that as a parent, teacher, counselor, or anyone caring for children that we expand our knowledge and scope of understanding to the wide and beautiful spectrum that exists in terms of topics on gender, inclusivity, sexuality, and LGBTQIA+.
And yes, it is changing fast, with new belief systems and language coming all the time. At times it may seem daunting when you worry about knowing everything or getting it right, yet when we relax into changes we can feel the excitement of witnessing the broadening happening across the world. And our children will have so many more opportunities to love and accept themselves and others, and all parts of them, rather than having to ignore, suppress, question, and shame natural feelings, urges, questions, and seeking and exploration behaviors.
If you or a loved one has experience suppression, oppression, confusion, shame, and/or other traumas around sexuality, gender, inclusivity, etc., compassionate and inclusive counseling from qualified licensed professionals can help.
Many people fear changes, and have anxiety children will be hurt, confused, or judged. And are scared to talk about these subjects at all, fearing something bad will happen and yet, in truth, it is quite the opposite. It allows children and the upcoming generations to find a greater sense of acceptance in their own sense of self and authenticity in the world.
If you need coaching or want an inclusive setting to have healthy conversations, counseling can help. Also, it is important that if you have a child or teen who having difficulty with any of these topics and more, counseling with a licensed professional can be a crucial step
Our younger generations, and ALL who have for too long been ostracized, marginalized, and judged are speaking out and demanding that we have difficult and real conversations that promote change. This includes with each other, and with our children.
As a parent, caregiver, or teacher, it can be difficult to know the right thing to say when kids question what we deem to be adult topics. Broaching topics of sexuality can be awkward for both parties; however, it is a necessary and very important conversation to have. And it is crucial to have some knowledge and understanding and to approach it with an open heart. It takes willingness, openness, and compassion.
Want to learn more skills, develop great empathy and compassion for self and others, and become more mindful. Try our DBT Skills Groups for adults or teens.
When it comes to talking about gender and sexuality, and the wide spectrum that continues to expand in preferences, children should be given truthful age-appropriate information so they can better understand and empathize with themselves and with others. Regardless of whether your child identifies now or in the future with LGBTQIA+, having a conversation about LGBTQIA+ issues will help reduce prejudice while teaching compassion and empathy.
This is powerful, as it can, directly and indirectly, reduce tensions, anxiety, social awkwardness, interpersonal difficulties, and enhance wellbeing, inclusivity, and acceptance.
When to Talk
It’s never too late to start a conversation on issues of sexuality with your children. While there may be initial discomfort and reluctance from preadolescent children and older, ultimately having these discussions with your children will help them develop a sense of safety and security with you, while it teaches them tolerance and acceptance.
For young children, the age of 5 is generally a good time to begin discussing these topics by sharing some basic information with them.
What to Say
For very young children, keep the conversation simple and focus on basic concepts. When talking about sexuality, you can explain to your child that just as a man and a woman can fall in love, so can a man with a man, and a woman with a woman. When talking about transgender individuals, you can explain that how a person looks on the outside isn’t always how they feel on the inside. You can refer to the familiar adage about “not judging a book by its cover.”
Children should understand the basic concept that there are all kinds of people in this world, and that is what makes us all special and beautiful, like the colors in a rainbow. Allow the colors to be different, each one is amazing on its own and when combined to form a rainbow is magical.
Encourage them to ask you questions as they explore the world. Stay curious with children, they have a sense of wonder that we all need and should be encouraged and validated. Just as they see a rabbit for the first time, they ask "what is that"? This is from a place of curiosity and wonder, not judgment.
If we allow them to ask, explore, and provide back loving, truthful, age-appropriate, and compassionate feedback they will learn to engage in the world from this place. How powerful and wonderful is that?
Our own willingness, openness, and curiosity go a long way and will foster that in children. Or maybe it is the other way around, if we let them, they can foster it in us. Either way, it is transformative and healing.
Stay mindful, and be careful to not consciously, or unconsciously, give answers or communicate verbally or nonverbally in judgmental, confusing, and/or biased ways. Nor ignore a child's or your own curiosity. For mental health and wellbeing, you want to communicate in a way that celebrates all people. We all are and equally deserving of love, acceptance, and respect. And if we all treated each other, and ourselves, this way, what a world it would be.
The research shows it all starts with self-compassion, and it can totally transform us and the world around us. “Compassion is, by definition, relational.
Compassion literally means 'to suffer with,' which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering. The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect.”
― Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
If this is difficult for you to do, due to what you have experienced in your life, please seek compassionate support. What happened to you and how you were communicated may have impacted you and left you judgmental, in pain, angry, or hateful. If you are mindful enough to recognize this and willing to explore it, wonderful. Please don't beat yourself up to more, or hate yourself more, as that created more of the problem in the world. Counseling can help, so you can move through pain, trauma, and open your heart to more wellness as well. This will help you and the children and others in your life tremendously.
Remember You Don’t Have to Know Everything
Your child may have questions that you can’t answer. It’s okay to admit to your child when you don’t know the right answer. This could be a discussion point for later after you’ve done some research, or it could be a good opportunity for you to learn from your child.
Take time to explore, ask others as well, stay humble and you will build a stronger relationship with yourself self and the children in your life.
COMPASS POINT'S NEW BRAND
As a valuable part of the Compass Point family, we want to ensure you are the first to know that Compass Point is rebranding. We are excited to introduce you to our new brand and we hope you love it as much as we do!
Compass Point’s name will be changing to Mindfully. In many ways, this has been our identity all along as we have many existing programs and services dedicated to the concept of mindfulness. Because of this, we believe that Mindfully is a more fitting name for our existing and future services.
As a part of our rebranding, we will be adding new services to our offerings including psychiatry and peer mentoring. We are mindful that the needs of our clients change throughout their lives, and we want to ensure we have your behavioral health needs covered.
In the coming weeks we will unveil our new logo that will complete our Mindfully brand identity. While the name and look of our business will be different, the quality of services you have come to know and expect will remain the same. You will still access services in the same manner, you will keep the same clinician, and your billing will remain the same.
During this transition, if you receive a denial from your insurance provider, please contact the front office to have your payment reprocessed.
While we hope you are as excited as we are, we understand that you might have some
questions too. Please reach out to your Compass Point clinician or a front office team member with any questions you may have.
Partners in a marriage do not live in the same world because of their own histories and experiences. They each perceive things in their own unique way and respond to each other and attribute certain values to things and those are different. The tendency most of us have is to convince our partner that our world is correct, the right one.
"If you just see it the way I am trying to explain it to you , you would understand and then everything would be okay. "
That is a hopeless endeavor.
It is normal to consider our partner to be the problem when difficulties arise. “I shouldn’t have to be the one to change.” The problem is that this position leads to a sense of helplessness, since it does not work.
Paradoxically, we have more influence on our partners when we stop trying to change them and instead work to become the best partner we can be. What type of partner do I aspire to be. Our partners develop respect for us when we make positive changes. This makes it more likely they will also make a positive change. Remember these powerful 2 letter words:
"IF IT IS TO BE IT IS UP TO ME"
Jim Binder, MD