About 10 months ago, I wrote a workbook to help doulas process their compassion fatigue or secondary stress trauma symptoms to prevent burnout. In the introduction, I discussed how empathic identification is the basis to which a doula or any other related professional connects with their clients. Empathic identification is defined as…soaking up into oneself the emotions and feelings of others and situations without modulation. A professional’s strong alliance with their clients, repeated exposure to clients’ traumatic birth or traumatic life experiences and a professional’s own personal trauma can create an inducement for emotional breakdown. Professionals may find themselves experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Tension may relate to having preoccupation with the suffering of their clients and or internalizing their clients’ pain. This continuous cycle can become debilitating and begin to diminish a professional’s ability to be fully present. It also limits their effectiveness to intervene with compassionate and empathy to bring about healing for their clients.
As I sit across the room from clients day after day, I have realized that many psychological problems that arises whether it is addiction, depression, anxiety, overeating, over exercising, poor self-esteem, relationship issues, marital issues, infidelity, postpartum depression are around unresolved loss/grief. The space for grieving a loss was never fully validated. Most of us live our lives in the way we can and when we experience a loss; we stumble through it the best way we know how and push forward and maybe become a doula, a nurse, a psychologist, a teacher or a mom but the grieving steps have been missed. Think all of the life adjustments or trauma you have experienced, did you give space for grieving? did you give space to validate your pain? did you experience heal? Most of us do not, we do not…. simply because our parents and loved ones never showed us how. They never validated for us, so we don’t know how to validate our own experiences. When the loss has not been validated and the space for grieving has not been process, consequently, an emotional injury sets in. An emotional injury is likened to a physical injury in which when proper healing does not take place, it then becomes vulnerable for infections or re-triggering of past trauma.
For professionals, the task of self-care has be intentional. A powerful quote states “It is not selfish to refill your own cup so that you can pour into others. It’s not just a luxury, it’s essential” (www.albertelllis.org). So you have to heal your past emotional injury….”please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others..”; to heal requires the willingness to be transparent about your own vulnerabilities and limitations and seek support from an EFFECTIVE therapist. I have encountered many professionals who often share their regiment of a detailed list of physical care activities. However, I would like to urge professionals to add psychological and spiritual food to feed their souls in addition to the physical care. ( THIS IS AN EXERT FROM MY PRESENTATION AT THE STILLBIRTHDAY– 2016 HOMECOMING CONFERENCE, KEARNEY, MISSOURI. (WWW.STILLBIRTHDAY.COM)
“Self-care is the self-honoring that can be transferred to the honoring of other” – Lumunos.org
The “I” and “You” need self-care.
Below are some options listed for psychological and spiritual self-care. A complete list can be found in my workbook on www.amazon.com. Doula Revolution. Transforming your mind, body and soul. https://www.amazon.com/Doula-Revolution-Transforming-Workbook-Secondary/dp/0578171406
Psychological and emotional care:
Try progressive relaxation techniques/Do something selfish/Unplug for an hour from social media/Meditate- do a mindfulness exercise/Read a good book/Make a list about your positive attributes/Take yourself out to lunch /Revamp your short-term goals/Write in your journal.
Spend time in nature/Read a spiritual inspiring book/Pray/Read the Bible/Find a spiritual community to join/Listen to christian or gospel music/Volunteer and help those in need/Meditate/Complete a daily devotion/Revamp your spiritual goals/Make connections with other spiritually minded friends.
SEEK THE SUPPORT YOU DESERVE. KNOW YOUR WORTH!!!!