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Xena faces the siege


Xena

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Lots of you know I'm a distance runner. The past couple months I've been struggling with some lower back pain that I've been managing/treating/beating-into submission. For various reasons I couldn't complete several of my challenge goals last time. So I'm recycling three of them and thinking hard about the fourth:

 

1. Run 92 miles. This should be no big deal. As a bonus, each week that I log more than 25, I get to run an extra ZombiesRun mission.

2. 250 pushups. I'm going to take zero week to make sure my tricep is ok. If yes, I'll do these in sets of at least 5. In week 1 I get 1 minute per set. This will decrease by 5 seconds each week. I can take the full minute any week for a set bigger than 5.

3. 50 negatives (chinups). In zero week, I'll test this out a bit and see if my tricep is ok. I would like to start the challenge with an assessment on the gravitron, but I'm going to skip that out of caution.

4. Spend 1 hour per week learning about and working to manage some work-related stress (and perhaps aspects of my life/psyche that make me more vulnerable to this stress). This is really where facing the siege comes in. I need to kind of wall myself up in my castle and figure out what changes I want to make and where to direct my energy. The actual challenge activity each week could be working through a book I've recently bough (t"The Compassion Fatigue Workbook"), reading other resources, journaling, meditating.  Some of this could be deliberate self care...like finally taking time to go to the doctor or getting a massage. That "counts", but at least some time each week should be spent reading, writing, reflecting or otherwise trying to "treat" this condition. Figuring out how to "refill the well".

     A bonus component of this goal is to end the challenge with at least one actionable idea I will try to pursue to help others at my workplace with the same problem. Could be as simple as buying a second copy of the book, putting it somewhere accessible and letting people know it's available. Could be writing a blog post. Could be putting together a webpage of resources I've found useful. I've been talking with some of my peers. I'm not entirely sure the problem is widespread, but I can't possibly be the only one.

 

Bonus goals:

I'm doing the Daily Dare PvP. It's a different bodyweight exercise every and and is a lot of fun. Everyone is welcome!!

I'm tracking calories, and for every week that I average under 2000, I get to download a new i-tunes song. (weird that a <$2 expenditure is so motivating)

 

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Xena, Level 14+ Valkyrie Ranger

January 2017  December 2016

Oct/Nov 2016

 

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Following, these look like great goals. I'm a professional talker-about-self-care if you need any help.

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10 hours ago, Xena said:

Lots of you know I'm a distance runner.

 

"Lots of you know I am an unstoppable cyborg that covers distances that make grown men cry while looking good and laughing"

 

Fixed that for you

 

:)

 

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16 hours ago, Xena said:

Run 92 miles. This should be no big deal

 

You and I definitely at different points in our running odysseys! Following along as usual and sending as many healing vibes as I can to your back so it stays healthy!

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18 hours ago, Xena said:

I'm tracking calories, and for every week that I average under 2000, I get to download a new i-tunes song. (weird that a <$2 expenditure is so motivating)

That is actually sort of genius...

 

Following along

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17 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Following, these look like great goals. I'm a professional talker-about-self-care if you need any help.

 

I've absolutely been thinking of asking you for help. Might PM at some point, but I think this is a general enough question that might benefit others.

 

I'm in a position where I have to advise and mentor students and people junior to me. Some of these people are directly dependent on me (for training etc), so if they are struggling, I take on a lot of their stress. At some level, their failure is my failure. Some are people who might look to me for career advice, but may not work directly with me. I consider many aspects of my job very stressful. I have worked INCREDIBLY hard to get where I am, and I continue to do so. I'm in a career where no amount of work will ever be "enough", I will always feel a bit dissatisfied (at best), and it's sometimes hard to advise this path for others. This is difficult to quantify, but I think my personal life has been much more difficult because of my career choices. So when I talk with others about their stress and whether they want to stay in this career path, it makes me feel even more stressed out! I want to yell "YOUR stress?? What about MY stress??" I feel judged (even though I know it's mostly me judging myself, e.g., "ok, so you don't want to end up like me, great, how does that make me feel? I'm not sure I wanted to end up like me either").

 

(The above is probably the most negative possible version of the actual situation, but I got myself into quite a low spiral last week). I started looking for resources about stress related to advising, and almost exclusively the only resources I could find dealt with how, as advisors, we could be MORE understanding and give MORE of ourselves to students. But I gotta tell you, the well is feeling pretty dry.

 

I started thinking of other types of people who deal with similar types of stress. I came up with: teachers, therapists, clergy, caregivers. I figured there must be resources (I hope) for example for therapists and clergy who have to pour a lot of empathy into their professional interactions with others. How do you keep this from completely draining you??

 

 

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Xena, Level 14+ Valkyrie Ranger

January 2017  December 2016

Oct/Nov 2016

 

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2 hours ago, jstanlick said:

 

You and I definitely at different points in our running odysseys! Following along as usual and sending as many healing vibes as I can to your back so it stays healthy!

 

You are at the super speedy point in your running odyssey!

 

Update on the back: I finally stopped being a procrastinator and made an appt. to see my doctor next week. Back is back to being a very low grade manageable situation. He's actually a sports medicine expert, so I want his advice as to how best to continue to manage this.

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Xena, Level 14+ Valkyrie Ranger

January 2017  December 2016

Oct/Nov 2016

 

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Sounds like you are suffering from Compassion Fatigue. Without knowing more about your particular situation I'm hesitant to offer much advice this early. There are, however, some general statements I can make:

  • You are responsible for the quality of advice you give your students and mentees, not for their outcomes. Don't let their choices affect your happiness. Counselors have to face similar situations. The best therapist in the world can't help someone who isn't going to take any advice. That hypothetical person not improving is not the fault of the counselor, but of the person's refusal to listen. Check out this biblical passage. I can't remember if you have a religious preference or not, but ignore the stuff about sin and just look at what it's saying about the responsibility of the watchman.
  • You are not your profession. When people look at what you do and decide it's not for them, they are not making a comment about you as a person, or your life choices, or even your profession. They are making a statement about themselves, and their suitability for what you do. Strengthen your sense of identity outside of work.
  • Strengthen boundaries. My job is a constant tension between compassion and boundaries, too much compassion leads to burnout and being taken advantage of, whereas boundaries that are too strong leads to ineffectiveness due to not being able to reach people.
  • Recharge daily. My strength for what I do comes from outside of myself. While for me that is a specific religious context, everyone can have a spirituality, where spirituality is drawing strength from outside one's own self. 

We can talk more, either on here or via PM. There's some guesswork behind the advice above, so if something doesn't apply it's because my guesses were inaccurate. 

 

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Tank, this is a HUGE help. Just knowing a name for a relevant term gives me a lot of power to learn more. I didn't even know where to start. I'm going to do some more investigating and thinking on my own. (p.s. I was raised Catholic but am not practicing. I'm open to wisdom from any source).

 

(EDIT: I just read a little about this, and wow, THANK YOU! I knew there had to be resources somewhere. I can see that there is a lot that I can dig into and evaluate what might work for me. Your advice is all spot-on. Some of it I "know" intellectually but need to integrate better into my daily experience).

 

In other news, ran a couple miles today and went to the gym. I've learned that I don't work well with a 4 day per week running program. I need to run more frequently to keep up my habits. The gym was good...I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to gun hard for my pushup and chinup goals (see what I did there??).

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Xena, Level 14+ Valkyrie Ranger

January 2017  December 2016

Oct/Nov 2016

 

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Following! I love that your reward for running is more running!

 

3 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Sounds like you are suffering from Compassion Fatigue. Without knowing more about your particular situation I'm hesitant to offer much advice this early. There are, however, some general statements I can make:

  • You are responsible for the quality of advice you give your students and mentees, not for their outcomes. Don't let their choices affect your happiness. Counselors have to face similar situations. The best therapist in the world can't help someone who isn't going to take any advice. That hypothetical person not improving is not the fault of the counselor, but of the person's refusal to listen. Check out this biblical passage. I can't remember if you have a religious preference or not, but ignore the stuff about sin and just look at what it's saying about the responsibility of the watchman.
  • You are not your profession. When people look at what you do and decide it's not for them, they are not making a comment about you as a person, or your life choices, or even your profession. They are making a statement about themselves, and their suitability for what you do. Strengthen your sense of identity outside of work.
  • Strengthen boundaries. My job is a constant tension between compassion and boundaries, too much compassion leads to burnout and being taken advantage of, whereas boundaries that are too strong leads to ineffectiveness due to not being able to reach people.
  • Recharge daily. My strength for what I do comes from outside of myself. While for me that is a specific religious context, everyone can have a spirituality, where spirituality is drawing strength from outside one's own self. 

We can talk more, either on here or via PM. There's some guesswork behind the advice above, so if something doesn't apply it's because my guesses were inaccurate. 

 

Tank beat me to this. Couldn't have said it better myself. I will send you a PM. I may be able to offer some additional support.

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8 hours ago, Xena said:

Tank, this is a HUGE help. Just knowing a name for a relevant term gives me a lot of power to learn more. I didn't even know where to start. I'm going to do some more investigating and thinking on my own.

 

Seconded! I've got a lot of these stresses with work too so it kind of resonated with me when I read it.

 

10 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Sounds like you are suffering from Compassion Fatigue. Without knowing more about your particular situation I'm hesitant to offer much advice this early. There are, however, some general statements I can make:

 

It may not have been directed at me but thanks for the insight. Gives me some  thinking to do.

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2019 Roadmap

Spoiler

 

" Always aim for something stupidly crazy." - Charlie Quinn

2019 Races: Cliveden MTR 06/01 | Nuts Challenge 02/03 | Reading Half Marathon 17/03 | W.A.R 27/04 | RRDW 11/05 | Nuclear Oblivion 19/05 | Man vs Lakes 20/07 | Spartan Trifecta Weekend 05-06/10 | OCRWC 11-13/10

 

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10 hours ago, maegs said:

tumblr_niuoooXoFq1t2oygso1_500.jpg

 

Any excuse for broscience is a good excuse. this guy KILLS me.

 

 

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12 hours ago, Xena said:

Tank, this is a HUGE help. Just knowing a name for a relevant term gives me a lot of power to learn more. I didn't even know where to start. I'm going to do some more investigating and thinking on my own. (p.s. I was raised Catholic but am not practicing. I'm open to wisdom from any source).

 

(EDIT: I just read a little about this, and wow, THANK YOU! I knew there had to be resources somewhere. I can see that there is a lot that I can dig into and evaluate what might work for me. Your advice is all spot-on. Some of it I "know" intellectually but need to integrate better into my daily experience).

 

In other news, ran a couple miles today and went to the gym. I've learned that I don't work well with a 4 day per week running program. I need to run more frequently to keep up my habits. The gym was good...I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to gun hard for my pushup and chinup goals (see what I did there??).

Glad to help, and I'm happy that my advice was useful.

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16 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

The best therapist in the world can't help someone who isn't going to take any advice.

 

^^^^This!! My wife is a therapist and I have heard her say this more times than I think I can count. So many people want someone else to "fix them", but they don't put forth the effort required on their part. Roughly equivalent to the old adage of leading a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

 

15 hours ago, Xena said:

In other news, ran a couple miles today and went to the gym.

 

That's an awesome stress reliever right there!

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Today was really good. It helped a LOT to get support from all of you and especially some professional advice from Tank and HoneyBadger.

 

Fitness stuff:

5 miles today, mostly on trail. Have reminded myself that I do MUCH better when I run many times during the week (keep the routine) and when I start off the week strong.

 

Life stuff:

It was a HUGE step just to have a name for the syndrome. I've ordered a book and done some online self-tests. I also think part of my problem last week was that exercise got disrupted, which took away some of my outlet. I'm wondering if another problem has been the calorie counting. I'm eating enough food. It's just that in the past, I would deal with a stressful situation by getting some kind of delicious giant pastry. Not saying that was a great way of dealing with it, but it was part of my "system".

 

I went through one list of signs of vicarious trauma (also compassion fatigue) and circled several that I thought applied to me. There were three that I thought REALLY applied:

-- Hypersensitivity to emotionally charged material (I get really upset reading about some of the work/life balance stuff)

--Feeling like no matter how much you give it will never by enough

--Increased levels of anger, irritability, resentment or cynicism.

 

A couple things on top of this

1. After suggestions from Tank, HB and "the internet" I really need to think more about how to set boundaries. I can think of two people with whom I think I need firmer boundaries, and I'm going to have to think about how to do that. One of them honestly needs blunt treatment (I don't think I've ever had to say "I don't have any more time to talk to you about this right now" to someone I'm mentoring, let alone multiple times in the same conversation and repeated on many occasions). The other one is a more subtle problem.

2. HB suggested (paraphrasing) that when I feel that I am doing more work than the person I am trying to help, it's a sign I should back off. YES this is often the case, and part of what makes me mad. I want to stop being mad and figure out how to act in these situations.

 

I sure as heck don't want to be angry, irritable, resentful or cynical. Those words DON'T always apply to me, but during stressful periods, this is exactly what happens.

 

I won't always post such long descriptions of this process. And if I do, I'll try to include some resources that might help others.

I'm 100% sure I can work through the short-term problem, but I want to take a thoughtful look at the big picture.

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Xena, Level 14+ Valkyrie Ranger

January 2017  December 2016

Oct/Nov 2016

 

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This morning, my friend texted me early to give me the "weather report" for paddleboarding conditions. I heard the text come in on my phone and jumped out of bed to read it. Unfortunately, the cat was jumping onto the bed at the same time. I kind of clocked him and he went scampering off. Poor kitty!

 

Took the paddleboard out this morning. Calm and kind of misty.

Daily dare was 50 squats. No problem.

Cat seems no worse for the wear.

 

Have a pretty solid day planned for tomorrow...interval training in the morning and gym after work.

 

Talked to a couple colleagues about specific aspects of the stress issue. Surprised it's not more common. I think part of it is that I am working with some particularly challenging students right now. And part of it probably is an issue with boundaries.

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Xena, Level 14+ Valkyrie Ranger

January 2017  December 2016

Oct/Nov 2016

 

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On September 20, 2016 at 9:14 PM, Xena said:

I would deal with a stressful situation by getting some kind of delicious giant pastry. Not saying that was a great way of dealing with it, but it was part of my "system".

I believe that pastry  has healing properties and has been clinically proven to reduce stress (when used in moderation). Greyhounds also work but I would advise saving them for after work.

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14 hours ago, Phoenix Burning said:

Way to get back on the horse (paddle board)!  Is this the first time you've gone out since your back inury?

Yup! I was definitely thinking about that. Paddling itself is usually no problem (the fall was a freak thing). Loading up and carrying the board probably isn't the best. I was a little stiff this morning, but not too bad.

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Xena, Level 14+ Valkyrie Ranger

January 2017  December 2016

Oct/Nov 2016

 

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