Thursday, August 28, 2014

Are You an Exhausted Woman? By: Christine Hammond

As a wife, mother of three, full-time counselor, author, speaker, PTA mom, and assistant caretaker, I’m exhausted from doing too many things at once. I once heard a speaker say that multi-tasking is impossible — when you multi-task, you are really only giving partial attention to many things. And that’s exactly how I feel, because my life doesn’t stop long enough to give my full attention to anything. I’m exhausted not just in the physical sense, but deep inside to the point that death actually seems attractive some days. Ever felt that way?

Yet I’ve also learned that deep exhaustion can be beat. It is real. It is not your imagination or a result of you being inadequate in some way. Rather, it is a syndrome creeping into your existence due to unmet needs, expectations, ambitions, and hopes. It is compounded by tragedies, disappointments, rejections, and harsh realities. And it has encompassed nearly every aspect of your life without prejudice.

Could you be suffering from Exhausted Woman’s Syndrome (EWS) just like me? Take this quiz to find out. Answer the following questions with either “Y” for “Yes” or “N” for “No.” If it could be either than the answer is still “Yes.”

_____ 1.    Are you driven to achieve in every area of your life?

_____ 2.   Do petty things set you off?

_____ 3.   Do you withdraw or withhold intimacy when you feel attacked?

_____ 4.   Are you easily annoyed by others?

_____ 5.   Do you feel spiritually dry?

_____ 6.   Are you frequently dissatisfied with others’ commitment or dedication to work?

_____ 7.   Do you often miss out on fun because you are trying to please someone else?

_____ 8.   Do you feel the need to defend your decisions, actions, beliefs, and emotions?

_____ 9.   Are you highly competitive?

_____ 10.                        Do you feel crushed by the weight of everyday chores, demands, and expectations?

_____ 11. Are you hyper-protective about yourself and your family?

_____ 12.                        Do you dwell on new, unrealistic problems instead of focusing on the immediate?

_____ 13.                        Are you juggling too many balls in the air?

_____ 14.                        Do you fail to make allowances for failure, disappointment, or loss?

_____ 15.                        Do you over-think even simple things?

_____ 16.                        Are you over-committed?

_____ 17.                        Do you obsess about a conversation, decision, or event?

_____ 18.                        Are you over-whelmed in your day-to-day?

_____ 19.                        Do you feel obligated to take on more responsibility for others?

_____ 20.                       Do you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep because of your thoughts?

_____ 21.                        Are you stressed to the point of exhaustion?

_____ 22.                       Do you strive for perfectionism?

_____ 23.                       Are you taken for granted because you will almost always get the job done?

_____ 24.                       Do you take on unnecessary responsibility?

_____ 25.                       Do you try hard to please others at your own expense?

_____ 26.                       Are you the most dependable person you know?

_____ 27.                       Do you find yourself saying, “I’m sorry” when you are not really sorry?

_____ 28.                       Are your high standards tougher for yourself than others?

_____ 29.                       Do you apologize for things that aren’t your fault?

_____ 30.                       Is it hard to turn off your thoughts?

20 – 30. Boy, are you exhausted! The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook is designed for you and in it you will find relief for some of these symptoms. I understand that some of the items on this list look normal, some are, but when you combine 20 or more together it is too much.

10 – 20. You are not completely exhausted yet, but are well on your way. The book will fine tune the areas of your life that need improvement to keep total exhaustion at bay.

            0 – 10. YEA! There is very little exhaustion in your life. But my guess is that there are still a couple of things you would like to improve in your life.

The Exhausted Woman’s Handbook is for you, the woman who wants to get better but feel you don’t have the time, energy, or money to stop long enough and process what is at the heart of your exhaustion. It starts with recognition and understanding how your life has been influenced by your circumstances, personality, beliefs, and relationships. Then it continues with implementing practical steps to conquer your exhaustion. And finally, it brings you encouragement in that you are not alone in this journey.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression Warning Signs and Understanding What to do About it by Dwight Bain

The Associated Press reported for decades that Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams struggled with clinical depression. He had won every award, had achieved fame, fortune and the status of a global celebrity. Yet, in previous interviews he described his life as a “meaningless struggle.” Fame will not make you feel better, and drugs or alcohol only numb the pain. He had trouble getting out of bed many days and was hospitalized or placed in treatment centers multiple times. But it still didn’t change the outcome. Why?
How come a talented man with so much to live for wasn’t able to reinvent his life to move past depression and why did he have to die alone?   
What can you learn from his tragic death to help the people you care about not drown in depression?
I believe if you can talk through it – you can get through it, so talking about the subject of depression is important. It may lead thousands of others to take time out to evaluate their own lives, or the lives of those they care about. Depression affects children, teens, adults and seniors. The following special report and depression warning symptoms check lists can help you better understand depression, what often causes it and what to do about it. Remember, if you are experiencing overwhelming symptoms of depression that you will need to see a licensed medical or psychological professional for assistance because depression doesn’t get better by itself – but left untreated it can get much worse and often lead to a premature death.
Depression is more than sadness or having a ‘bad day.’ It is a long-lasting, often recurring illness as real and disabling as heart disease or arthritis, Adults who experience clinical depression may feel an oppressive sense of sadness, fatigue, and guilt.  Performing on the job may be difficult ... going out with friends may be unthinkable ... merely getting out of bed may be impossible.  The person who has depression feels increasingly isolated from family and colleagues - helpless, worthless, and lost. This is why it is so important to reach out to be there for those you care about struggling with depression. Your presence can make all the difference.
Depression is a very common emotional condition.  In varying degrees of severity, it affects 6-10% of all U.S. adults, more than ten million people in any given six month period, according to the American Psychiatric Association.  At least one in five Americans will experience a major depressive episode during their lifetime, with women twice as likely to develop depression as men and remember that children and teens can also be at risk for depression.  Listen to the words of author Don Baker as he describes his own journey through depression.
It is impossible for those that have never been depressed to fully understand the deep, perplexing pain that depression causes.  For four years I appeared healthy, without bandages and without crutches.  There were no visible scars, no bleeding, and yet there was the endless, indefinable pain that no doctor’s probing fingers could locate- no drug could totally relieve. There was always the pain and along with it the desire for oblivion- that would only come in restless snatches of restless sleep.  I seemed to be out of touch with reality.  Life was a blur, often out of focus.  My life seemed to be nothing but pretense and fantasy.  No one really cared, I felt-not even God.  The only solution-at times-seemed to be suicide.  To be told that Christians never get depressed only pushed me deeper into my black hole of depression.  The way out of that black hole was a long and painful process- one that required the sensitive and insightful counsel of a friend... friends can help you through it, and God can use it to enhance and enrich your life.   -Don Baker, from the book, “Depression”
If you or a person you know has exhibited four or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, professional help should be considered:
·       Sleeping too much or too little
·       Frequent wakening in the middle of the night
·       Eating too much or too little
·       Inability to function at work or school
·       Headaches, digestive disorders, nausea, pain with no medical basis
·       Excessive crying
·       Thoughts of death or suicide
·       Lack of energy, constant fatigue
·       Slowed thinking
·       Difficulty in concentrating, remembering, making decisions
·       Loss of interest in daily activities
·       Loss of sex drive
·       Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness
·       Restlessness, agitation, irritability
·       Feelings of inappropriate guilt or worthlessness
Depression results from an interaction of several factors - environmental, biological, and genetic.
Environmental Factors.  Stress resulting from the loss of a job, death of a family member, divorce, or ongoing health or family problems can trigger depression.
Biological Factors.  Depression may also be tied to disturbances in the biochemicals that regulate mood and activity.  These biochemicals, called neurotransmitters, are substances that carry impulses or messages between nerve cells in the brain.  An imbalance in the amount or activity of neurotransmitters can cause major disruptions in thought, emotion and behavior. Some people develop depression as a reaction to other biological factors such as chronic pain, medications, hypothyroidism or other medical illnesses.
Genetic Factors.  Because depression appears to be linked to certain biological factors, people can inherit a predisposition to develop depression.  In fact, 25% of those people with depression have a relative with some form of this illness.
Doctors know more about depression than perhaps any other emotional illness.  Because of research and medical advancements, 80 - 90% of those with a depressive disorder can be treated successfully.
Evaluation.  A complete evaluation with a qualified professional is the first step in seeking treatment.  Only a licensed physician or psychologist can diagnose a person with a psychiatric disorder.  During the diagnostic evaluation, the physician or psychologist will determine if any other factors are contributing to or even causing the depressive symptoms.
Professional counseling.  Various psychotherapies, cognitive behavioral therapy or “talk therapies” commonly used in the treatment of depression focus on the causes and effects of the illness.  Interpersonal therapy helps people deal with problems in personal relationships.  Cognitive therapy helps patients change negative thoughts or perceptions, such as high achievers who are convinced they are failures.
The purpose of this checklist is to help you assess patterns of depression.  There are no good or bad answers -- only honest ones. Please answer Yes or No to each question as it applies to you.    
_____ 1.         Do you feel sad or “empty” much of the time?               
_____ 2.         Do you find yourself becoming irritable and quick tempered?
_____ 3.         Have you lost interest in ordinary activities?
_____ 4.         Do you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning?
_____ 5.         Do you tire easily?
_____ 6.         Is it becoming increasingly difficult to focus or concentrate?
_____ 7.         Have you gained or lost weight recently?
_____ 8.         Do you find yourself crying frequently or more easily?
_____ 9.         Do you feel anxious or tearful much of the time?
_____10.       Are you having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up early in the morning?
_____11.       Do you feel guilty or overly responsible for others?
_____12.       Is your attitude more negative than it used to be?
_____13.       Are you overly critical of yourself or do you find yourself lacking?
_____14.       Do you feel taken for granted by family, friends, or other relationships?
_____15.       Are you increasingly impatient with your children?
_____16.       Does your work day stretch on endlessly?
_____17.       Do you have thoughts about dying or death?
_____18.       Have you started drinking or using drugs to dull your pain or have previous habits worsened?
_____19.       Do you sometimes feel that other people are criticizing or talking about you?
_____20.       Do you find yourself experiencing headaches?  Stomach aches? Muscle pain?  Chronic aches and pains?
_____21.       Have you tried to hurt yourself or put yourself in dangerous situations?
_____22.       Is there a past history of depression for you or another family member?
_____23.       Do you find it hard to make decisions about everyday matters?
_____24.       Are you pulling away from family and friends and spending much of your time alone?
_____25.       Have you lost interest in your sexual relationship?
If you found yourself answering “yes” to more than a few of these questions, it may be time to reach out for help. Remember- Depression doesn’t go away by itself or get better if left alone – it only gets worse. Please don’t let the people you care about suffer with depression alone – be there for them.
·       People who have a family member with depression
·       People who have experienced a stressful or traumatic life event
·       People who lack the social support of a spouse, friends, and extended family
·       People who abuse drugs and alcohol
·       People who have chronic medical illnesses or persistent pain
·       Remember, your depression is not your fault and it can be effectively treated.
·       Seek treatment.  Don’t let misconceptions about emotional illness or the discouragement of your depression stop you.     Either on your own, or by   asking a friend or family member, contact your family doctor, community mental health center, or local medical or psychiatric hospital for help.
·       In the weeks until treatment becomes effective, you can take some simple steps to help you deal with life on a day-to-day basis:  Break large tasks into small steps; set easily managed priorities; participate in light exercise and relatively undemanding social activities, such as attending a movie or visiting a friend.  Simply being with others can be helpful.
·       Encourage treatment.  Remember that the symptoms of depression may prevent a person from trying to get help.  Your             personal physician, mental health center, or local psychiatric hospital will be able to help you find a treatment specialist.
·       Adjust your expectations and offer support, understanding, and encouragement. Never minimize depression or offer bade advice for the person to "snap out of it"
·       Demonstrate that you know the person is in pain.
·       When the person says or does something upsetting because of the depression, try to put your reaction into calm, reasonable words.  This will help the person understand how his or her conduct affects others, and help you better cope with a trying situation.
How do you know it someone is depressed?
·       Appearance - sad face, slow movements, unkempt look
·       Unhappy Feelings - feeling sad, hopeless, discouraged or listless
·       Negative Thoughts - “I’m a failure!” “I’m no good!” “No one cares about me”
·       Reduced Activity - “I just sit around and mope” “Doing anything is just too much of an effort”
·       People Problems - “I don’t want anybody to see me” “I feel so lonely”
·       Guilt and Low Self-esteem - “It’s all my fault” “I should be punished”
·       Physical Problems - sleeping problems, weight loss or gain, decreased sexual interest or headaches
  • Suicidal Thoughts or Wishes - “I’d be better off dead!” “I wonder if it hurts to die”
If the warning signs and symptoms of depression sound like you or someone you care about, it may be time to reach out for some professional help. Call a hotline, speak to a pastor, chaplain, doctor or counselor. Do not try to go through depression alone.
Reach out for help because the more you learn about depression, the better you will understand that it has specific causes and effective treatments.  And like any illness, depression can affect anyone at any time.
By reaching out for information you can recognize the signs and symptoms of depression.  That knowledge may someday allow you to help someone get the treatment he or she needs to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
Behavioral Strategies to overcome Depression
·       Make a short “To Do” list of activities you can succeed at today
·       Think of ways you can improve your health
·       Ask for what you want - you might get it!
·       If your health allows, run, jog, walk or swim with a friend
·       Help someone else who is less fortunate
·       Make play a high priority – remember “Laughter is the best medicine”
·       Reach out and touch someone else.  Join a ball club or a homemaker club. Reach out to someone who is lonely.  Smile.
·       List the ways you belittle yourself
·       List the ways you can let go of your depression
·       Answer these questions: Do I really want to change?  What benefits do I get for being depressed?  What does it do for me?  What payoffs would I get if I let go of my depression?  If I was not depressed what would I be doing?
·       Ask yourself, “What do I need that I am not getting?”  Often the basis for our feeling depressed is the fact that we do not like ourselves.  And what we need to do is start liking ourselves.  Find one thing you like about yourself and think about it.  If you have trouble with that think about the fact that you are still alive.  You have come this far in life. You are still here.  You have a purpose in life – and as you find it you will find greater meaning and strength – so keep walking toward the kind of life you want to have and don’t stop.
·       Get busy doing things you enjoy, like being with a friend
·       Make a “stroke” file.  It is almost certain that at some time in your life people said they liked something about you.  Jot down that positive stroke on a scrap of paper and put it in a box or file.  Add any letters or cards from people who let you know they appreciate you. You can add to your collection at any time.  Then, when you feel down, look in your stroke file and let yourself enjoy the compliments you have received from others.
·       Make a list of things you like about yourself.  Think about and enjoy your positive assets and accomplishments.
·       Pamper yourself. Give yourself some pamper time.
·       Take a soothing hot bath for 30 minutes while listening to your favorite music.
·       Take a leisurely walk.
·       Lie down under a tree and experience your oneness with nature.
·       Have a cup of hot tea.
·       Bake some cookies to share with others.
·       Go for a walk with a pet or friend.
And remember to pray for guidance. You are not alone in battling depression. God will be there for you if you call out to him. Thanks for reading and remember to share this important information with others.
About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people re-write their Story through Positive Change. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Certified Life Coach in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Breaking Out of Summertime Stress by Dwight Bain

“Life should be easier this summer, so what am I doing wrong?” Was the hectic plea of a stressed out mom I talked to recently. She was facing what millions of other moms go through. It’s the middle of the summer without set schedules or routines, yet it is still one of the most stressful times of the year. Ever wonder why extended family time away from school or work can lead to greater conflict and tension? 

First, realize you are not in a Disney movie. Summertime is like any other season of the year. It has a different temperature pattern, but that doesn’t mean it will be any happier. In fact, if you are facing financial challenges it can be harder since there are increased childcare costs, summer camp tuition fees and more meals eaten in the car between events. The traditional school year isn’t easy, but it is predictable, and from a budget perspective is often less stressful than trying to keep up with the continual obligations of summer. For people in high conflict relationships the relaxed schedule means more time to fight. It’s like they have more fireworks in their home every day than the fourth of July. Verbal violence is wrong no matter who starts it and extra time with greater financial pressure can lead to a continual battle. If you are in an abusive relationship don’t wait for it to get better – because it won’t. Call for help now.
Second, remember you are the parent and you set the tone for your summertime expectations. If you try to keep up with everyone’s fabulous vacation, or travel over to meet another family at the beach, or go to the movies to see every summer blockbuster, or go boating with the neighbors, or attend every barbeque and picnic you will stay broke and tired. Trying to live out the expectations of someone on a reality TV show will only cause disappointment. Figure out the schedule and budget you can responsibly manage during the summer and stick to it. Breaking the bank and losing sleep to be like everyone else will only exhaust you. Besides – everyone else is probably lying about how fantastic their lives are, which is why they may brag so much about their fantastic lives. If someone is constantly telling you how wonderful their life is – it could be a cover up. Either way, live your life, within your means to avoid the comparison game of beating someone else. 
Next meditate on the words of Jesus, who once told his disciples to “Come apart and rest for a while.” This simple wisdom is essential to avoid summertime stress. Finding times of peaceful rest will take you from seeking family entertainment, (theme parks, go-cart tracks, movies, putt-putt, cruises, and the cross-country trek to visit “Wallyworld”), to move over to a deeper and more meaningful process of building family experiences. Face the reality that children rarely will remember spending money on something trendy, but will always remember catching fireflies, or making s’mores on the grill, or playing Lego’s because a thunderstorm knocked out the electricity. Creating a family experience involves time and creativity – not cash. But be warned, once you experience the laughter and peace of just being together as a family without all the distractions of expensive entertainment – you will never be able to go back to being a group of strangers who try to avoid one another with the latest, greatest event because active connection with the people you love trumps passive observation of another meaningless event. One engages your family, (think of tubing down river together – it’s not expensive, but it is a powerful memory that creates more connection than watching the latest Transformers film), while the other allows them to escape real family connection.
Finally, get back on schedule. One of the sources of summertime stress is being off your regular routine. Sleep the same, get up at the same time, and go do free stuff, (like story time at your public library), instead of sitting home watching TV. There are many subtle stress producing emotions that come from sitting and being bored, or worse, discouraged by how ‘perfect’ everyone on television seems to have it. Stop it! Turn off continual TV and it’s temptations or distractions, (same goes for Facebook), to get up, go out and live life – instead of staying inside and watching others live their lives on the small screen.
You don’t have to stay stressed this summer – but you do have to make the decision to be different. Start by changing your schedule to be out and about with activities that matter. Then move forward to have real conversations with the people in your life. This could be the best season for those you care about if you make the decision to break out of summertime stress to push toward meaningful relationship. Moving from relationship fireworks to relationship friendship is a good trade- and when you make it, you will be glad you did.

About the Author  Dwight Bain helps people rewrite their story to move from stress to satisfaction. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Bain partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 800 complimentary articles and special reports at

Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group weekly eNews, (Copyright, 2004-2014), To receive this valuable counseling resource every week, visit or call 407-647-7005

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Community Care after a Crisis by Dwight Bain

Identifying Emotional Warning Signs and Trauma Symptoms

A community crisis can terrorize an entire community in just a few minutes, while the recovery process to rebuild from a major critical incident may take weeks or months to sort through. The more you know about how to survive and rebuild after the crisis, the faster you can take positive action to get your personal and professional life back on track.

Since community crisis events like school, mall or church shootings, bombing or terrorism are unpredictable, it requires a different course of action from natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and floods. What can you do right now to cope with the psychological impact of a major community crisis brought on through violence?

1. Deal Directly with Your Emotions

This will reduce the tension and stress on you, which allows you to have more energy to deal with a difficult situation. However, if you stuff your fears and frustrations in a major community crisis, your emotions can quickly blow up without warning. Exploding in rage on your children, your coworkers or your marriage partner will only make a difficult situation worse.

Community crisis events are a terrible situation full of loss and difficulty for everyone. By taking action now you can move beyond feeling overwhelmed by intense stress, anger or confusion. As you follow the insight from this recovery guide, you will be taking positive steps to rebuild with the focused energy of an even stronger life for you and your family after the emergency service workers pack up and go home because your community has recovered.

To best survive a major community crisis, you need a strong combination of three key elements:

·         Healthy coping skills

·         Healthy supports

·         Healthy perspective

2. Consider the Dangers of Long-term Stress

A major community crisis affects everyone however; it becomes dangerous to our health when the stress goes on for an extended period of time. Major stress can affect adults, children, the elderly and even pets, so it is important to be alert to watch for the danger signs of the psychological condition called Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (commonly referred to as PTSD), in yourself, your family members and coworkers.

These symptoms include any dramatic change in emotions, behavior, thought patterns or physical symptoms over the next few days, weeks or even months. Since community crisis events are a terribly stressful time for everyone and often remain stressful for days or weeks to come, there are a number of factors to be aware of to keep yourself and those who you care about safe.


3. Identify the Warning Signs of Overload

These signs are indicators that the intense stress from the critical incident is beginning to overwhelm the individual. The longer the stress symptoms occur, the greater the severity of the traumatic event on the individual. This does not imply craziness or personal weakness; rather, it simply indicates that the stress levels from the storm were too powerful for the person to manage and their body is reacting to the abnormal situation of having survived a major trauma.

It’s normal to feel completely overwhelmed by a community crisis; however, there are danger signs to watch for in yourself or others that may indicate psychological trauma. Adults or children who display any of the following stress symptoms may need additional help dealing with the events of this crisis. It is strongly recommended that you seek the appropriate medical or psychological assistance if you see a lot of the physical, emotional, cognitive or behavioral symptoms listed below in you, your coworkers, or someone in your family or home, especially if these symptoms weren’t present before the crisis.

Physical Symptoms

Chills, thirst, fatigue, nausea, fainting, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, chest pain, headaches, elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, shock symptoms, and so on.

Emotional Symptoms

Fear, guilt, grief, panic, denial, anxiety, irritability, depression, apprehension, emotional shock, and feeling overwhelmed, loss of emotional control, and so on.

Cognitive Symptoms

Confusion, nightmares, uncertainty, hyper-vigilance, suspiciousness, intrusive images, poor problem solving, poor abstract thinking, poor attention/memory and concentration, disorientation of time, places or people, difficulty identifying objects or people, heightened or lowered alertness, and so on.

Behavioral Symptoms

Withdrawal, antisocial acts, inability to rest, intensified pacing, erratic movements, changes in social activity, changes in speech patterns, loss of or increase of appetite, increased alcohol consumption, and so on.

If you are in doubt about these symptoms in your life, or someone you care about, it is wise to seek the care of a physician or certified mental health professional. Better to actively deal with the stressful emotions directly to help yourself and your loved ones to immediately cope with this crisis because these emotions tend to worsen and get more intense if left untreated. Remember that there are many experienced professionals who can help you and your children recover during a time of crisis.

You do not have to go through this alone.

Take action now to prevent stress from continuing to overwhelm you or the people you care about. Call a trusted friend to talk through it, reach out to clergy, or call your family doctor or counselor. If you don’t know someone to call about these emotional issues, you can reach out for assistance by calling telephone hotlines which are offered at no cost to you. These numbers are often posted by local media, hospitals, churches, and schools, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army or FEMA. If you, or someone you care about are feeling overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, guilt or grief, it’s important to make the call for assistance now to learn how to get past the pressure to begin to feel “okay” again.

About the Author –

Dwight Bain has dedicated his life to guide people toward greater results as an Author, Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Crisis Instructor in practice since 1984. His primary focus is managing major change as a Critical Incident Stress Management expert. Bain has spoken to over 3,000 groups on strategic change topics. He speaks over 100 times per year to groups across the United States on creating positive change. Follow him for updates at or and stay connected to his daily updates at