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When It Hurts to Help: Why All Helpers Need a Day..

when it hurts to helpThis post is dedicated to the beat up, burnt out, beyond tired, utterly exhausted, depressed, anxious, and restless spirits of the world, this is for you.  To the therapists, teachers, ministers, counselors, doctors, nurses, aides, and anyone else who serves.

We always say “Yes!”:

Somewhere deep inside all of us is the feeling, want, and desire to believe we matter. It’s the reason why successful people are attractive to us because we all want to be ‘world-changers, the next big thing, and innovative’ until it requires something of us–a cost.

I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but if you are, you tend to overcommit when you’re feeling “good”. You say ‘Yes!” to everything much like Jim Carey did in the movie “Yes Man”.  There is no invitation unanswered, no volunteer list without your name on it, and no unspoken for commitments because you’ve made sure to be a part of each and every one. Then it happens…

Life, Reality, and Depression (insert your symptoms) Hit:

You feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, every bit of energy has been sucked out of you, and no matter where you look the landscape has changed from a flourishing oasis to a dark and desolate tundra. Depression has come in a like a storm in the summer to remind you of two things– there’s always a potential for storms and they can be dangerous!

Much like a storm, the depression will pass, but while in the midst of it, you should honor its power.

What does it mean to ‘honor its power’?

What I mean by ‘honor’ is to understand that you can’t fight it and it’s pointless to do so. But here’s the key, don’t obsess about it. What we don’t realize is when we try to fight the destructive forces in us, they normally win regardless, because we’ve spent so much time trying to make them disappear that we are left with no energy to ever feel good. A winless battle. For me, I’m learning to weather the storm.

The Takeaway:

Put yourself first when you need to. There will always be people who need ‘help’ and there help is no more needed than you need your own, so stop the martyr mentality and take time to care for yourself. You and those you help– deserve it!

On days like today, when I wake up surrounded by a cloud of great darkness, I assess the darkness.  Maybe it’s depression, burn out, or just plain physical exhaustion, but whatever I determine, I decide that I need to put myself first. I make a list of what must be done and make sure that self-care is my top priority. I make sure how I react to the storm is in a nurturing way so that I do not extend stay while I also must admit I can’t hasten its departure.

Today, I will read, teach, meditate, and do some light exercise all the while nourishing my body, mind, and spirit because in weathered times it’s best to ‘take cover and take care’.

When was the last time you took a “mental health day” and let your brain relax, enjoy, and decompress?

If the answer is you can’t think of an answer then you must take a day.

Unplug, pull away and relax. Also, if possible, learn that every door that opens for you is not one you need to walk through. Learn to be OK with saying ‘no’.

Your mind, body, spirit (and people around you) will thank you.

I’ll leave you with this thought from a former supervisor of mine:

“It’s not bad to have a bleeding heart, Dan, but if a heart bleeds to death it’s no good to anyone.”

Be well my friends,


Kasia Bialasiewicz/Bigstock

When It Hurts to Help: Why All Helpers Need a Day..


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APA Reference
, . (2016). When It Hurts to Help: Why All Helpers Need a Day... Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Jun 2016
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