The Cost of Caring for Others

Have you ever listened to someone tell you a stressful story and you end up having a physical reaction to THEIR story? Your heart rate speeds up, your hands get sweaty, and you can FEEL their stress?

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We call this reaction “somatic empathy” – it’s the idea that you can have a physical reaction to stories you hear & actually feel others’ stress.

I work with a lot of helping professionals that hear a lot of stressful and traumatic stories. While it’s great to be able to empathize with those you love and serve, you have to take steps to protect yourself from personally experiencing the pain of those you interact with.

Check out this video we made on the Neurophysiology of serving others if you haven’t seen it already!

Listen, we don’t mean to do this to each other, but we’re human, and our systems are simply set up this way.


So here’s a couple tips that can help you protect yourself from taking on too much of the stress of those you serve:

💙  SET BOUNDARIES 💙

Research suggests that enforcing boundaries actually helps increase your sense of compassion and lessen feelings of anger and resentment. So it’s not just you who benefits from it, the people around you will too.

💙  PRACTICE MINDFULNESS 💙

B R E A T H E, practice gratitude, journal, and use perspective building to stay present & help process your emotions. Sound familiar? Yep, that’s The Mako Method™ framework. Here’s a link to download our guide with over 50 ideas to help you get started.

You may be wondering why I’m talking about stress management in my psychological safety newsletter? Well, it’s because over here we deeply believe we can’t have Psychological Safety until we’ve done something about our stress. Operating in survival mode is not exactly a breeding ground for Psychological Safety.

If this topic peaked your interest, we have a training that’s all about this very issue. It’s our Cost of Care Training and we facilitate it with lots of teachers, mental health professionals, and other groups that work directly with stressed populations. This training is all about making sure you have the knowledge and tools to protect yourself from secondary stress as you show up to support those around you.

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If this sounds like your group, let’s chat! I’ll link my inquiry form below.