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5 Stages of Grief

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By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

I recently lost a very dear friend to an unexpected and sudden death and have naturally been grieving her passing. I also currently happen to have several clients that I am counseling and coaching through seasons of grief. So this seems like an appropriate time to share about the 5 stages of grief.

We can experience grief with any type of serious loss. In addiction to the death of a loved one, we may experience grief from divorce, a hard break-up, even from getting fired from a job we liked.

We all deal with grief in different ways. Some may cry for days on end and completely neglect their own self care. Others may even laugh because they cope with pain using humor. While still others may just feel totally numb–perhaps even judging themselves for not crying or laughing like other people.

There is no right way to grieve. Grieving styles vary from person to person and culture to culture.

The most well known model of grief is from Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and is well known as The 5 Stages of Grief. Here are the stages in order, but remember, someone who is grieving may go through these stages in any order, and may even return to previous stages.

1. DENIAL–This is where a person may say, “This can’t be happening.” They can refuse to accept the hard fact that a loss has occurred. They may minimize or outright deny the situation. It is suggested that loved ones and professionals be forward and honest about losses to not prolong the denial stage.

2. ANGER“Why is this happening to me?” When an individual realizes that a loss has occurred, they may become angry at themselves or others. They may argue that the situation is unfair and try to place blame. They may be angry at God, at another person, or even at themselves.

3. BARGAINING“I will do anything to change this.” In bargaining, the person may try to change or delay their loss. For example, they may try to convince a partner to return after a breakup, or search for unlikely cures in the case of a terminal illness. They may even try to bargain with God.

4. DEPRESSION“What’s the point of going on after this loss?” At the stage of depression the individual has come to recognize that a loss has occurred or will occur. The individual may isolate themselves and spend time crying and grieving. They may have trouble sleeping, lose focus at work or school, or lose bodyweight. The good news about this stage is that depression is a precursor to acceptance because the individual has come to recognize their loss.

5. ACCEPTANCE “It’s going to be okay.” Finally, the individual will come to accept their loss. They understand the situation logically, and they have come to terms emotionally with the situation. At this point the person is more able to move on with their life.

If you are currently experience grief of any sort, I strongly encourage you to seek support. Even though you may feel like isolating, processing through your grief with wise and healthy support is highly recommended and may actually reduce the length of your grieving process.

Many hospitals and churches offer free grief support groups. There are also many wise counselors and therapists who can help you process your grief in a healthy way. Be sure to ask if they have experience with grief recovery. There is also an organization called GriefShare that can help you find local grief support groups. You can also sign up for a daily encouraging email on their website: https://www.griefshare.org/.

Special thanks to GriefShare and TherapistsAid for info used in this post.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Call me at 949-303-8264
Email:       randy@randymoraitis.com
Websites:  www.carepossible.comwww.randymoraitis.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RandyMoraitisCoach/
Twitter:     @rmoraitis

About Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CIP

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy, he will gladly show you pictures!)

Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families and individuals affected by addiction and/or mental health issues through counseling, coaching and interventions. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been leading groups, individuals and families to mental, physical and spiritual healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

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How Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Affect Health

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Adverse childhood experiences, also known as ACEs, are adverse or traumatic childhood experiences that damage a child’s developing brain in such a way that the effects can show up years later. ACES can cause chronic disease, mental illness and other serious issues.

“ACEs” comes from the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study which showed that childhood trauma leads to the onset of adult of chronic diseases, depression and other mental illness, violence and being the victim of violence.

The ACE study has published 70 research papers and hundreds more research papers have been published based on the ACE study.

The researchers measured these 10 ACEs:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • A family member who is depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness
  • A family member who is addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • A family member in prison
  • Witnessing a mother being abused
  • Losing a parent to separation, divorce or other reason

The ACEs study is extremely significant because ACEs cause chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease, as well as mental illness and violence.

Nadine Burke Harris, MD, MPH did an amazing TedTalk on this issue which I highly recommend. Here is a link: TedTalk on ACEs.

As a counselor, coach and interventionist I find this research extremely interesting and helpful in understanding my clients. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. My email is randy@randymoraitis.com and my phone is 949-303-8264.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

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8 Strategies for Coping with Stress

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Everyone experiences stress to some level on a daily basis. Stress is when the outside world gets inside of us. Not all stress is bad, in fact some stress may actually be good. A little bit of stress—just the right amount—can actually help improve our performance.

Stress is the biological, psychological, emotional, behavioral, and social responses to a stressor, which is the real or imagined event that sets things off. To thrive in life we need effective strategies to cope with stress.

We all have different ways of coping with stress. One way to measure coping is to use the Ways of Coping Questionnaire, developed by psychological researchers Folkman and Lazarus. This 66 item questionnaire divides coping into eight different categories or strategies.

Here are the 8 strategies, further divided into active and passive methods of coping:

4 Active Coping Strategies

  • Confrontive coping: You take action and confront the problem.
  • Seeking social support: You seek informational and emotional support. An extremely effective strategy.
  • Planful problem-solving: You make a deliberate and analytical plan to solve the problem. Also an extremely effective strategy.
  • Positive reappraisal: You try to create a positive meaning and focus on personal growth.

4 Passive Coping Strategies

  • Distancing: You expect that the problem solves itself (involves detachment). This is the second to least effective strategy.
  • Self-controlling: You make efforts to regulate feelings and actions.
  • Accepting responsibility: You accept your own role in the problem.
  • Escape-avoidance: You try to avoid the problem by wishful thinking and behavioral efforts. This is the least effective strategy.

Big Question

Which is your go-to strategy for coping with stress?

Big Takeaway

The best strategies for coping with stress are seeking social support and planful problem-solving. So the next time you feel stressed-out, reach out to healthy community for support and/or sit down and think through an analytical plan to tackle the problem.

In addition to social support and planful problem-solving, I am a big fan of prayer, meditation and exercise for stress management. If you aren’t already incorporating these tools into your life, perhaps now is the time to start!

I would love to hear your favorite strategy for coping with stress. Email me at randy@randymoraitis.com or visit my websites www.randymoraitis.com or www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)

Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

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HALT for Recovery and Wellness


By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

If you or a loved one are affected by any mental health, addiction or eating disorder issue then I encourage you to use HALT as an easy-to-remember tool for staying healthy.
HALT is an acronym that stands for:

It’s wise to avoid getting too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired because when we do, any underlying issues (such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, addiction, eating disorder, etc.) can be negatively impacted.

HUNGRY–have you seen those Snickers commercials where Marcia of The Brady Bunch turns into Machete because she’s too hungry (hangry)? It is both funny and true!

While I’m not recommending a candy bar, I do recommend that you keep healthy snacks with you throughout the day such as almonds, protein bars, or fruit. When your blood sugar drops your brain stops working at an optimal level and that means a bad decision or bad mood could easily happen. Keep your mind and body fueled for peak performance!

ANGRY–I love this quote from Thomas Jefferson: “When angry count to ten before you speak, if very angry count to one hundred.” Great advice here! Give it a try when you get angry.

Four Square Breathing is another great tool to use when you feel angry. It can help you calm down and regain focus so you do not make any bad choices. Here is a link to easily learn how to do four square breathing.

LONELY–Human beings need healthy community, healthy companionship. There is a great body of research proving that isolation has numerous negative side effects even causing cancer.

There is a very wise quote which says, “Two are better than one…” (Ecc 4:9). This is so true!

If you find yourself isolating–reach out to a friend, family member, or neighbor. Or join a club, group or activity that connects you to others.

If you know of someone that is isolating, reach out to they. They may need you more than you know.

TIRED–Being tired is bad for our health and can lead us to make bad decisions. Have you ever said anything that you didn’t really mean because you were too tired? Or have you ever failed to have a peak performance because you were too tired?

Research clearly shows that we need 7-8 hours of sleep per night to be at our best. I encourage you to have some discipline with this–turn off the TV and put down the phone or iPad early enough for you to get a good night’s rest. Don’t sleep with your phone right by your head–the light interferes with your sleep.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try the following:

  • Be sure to limit caffeine during the day–especially later in the day.
  • Try relaxation and visualization exercises to help induce sleep.
  • Use a sound machine or app to create a calm, soothing environment.

So give HALT a try. If you apply the concept on a daily basis you just might find yourself having a much healthier and happier life.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
You can email me at randy@randymoraitis.com.
Websites: www.randymoraitis.com and www.carepossible.org

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

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Top Ten Differences Between Life Coaching and Therapy

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Newsweek Magazine once said about coaches that “They’re part therapist, part consultant–and they sure know how to succeed in business”. While there is truth to this statement, many important differences do exist between coaching and therapy.

Here are the Top Ten Differences Between Life Coaching and Therapy:

1. Coaching is about achievement; therapy is about healing.

If you want to set and achieve goals to move you forward in life, then you need a coach. If you have past hurts that you have not yet processed through, then you need a therapist.

2. Coaching is about action; therapy is about understanding

I recently had a client say that she got more out of one coaching session than months spent with a therapist and a psychologist. This may be due to the fact that I assessed her current situation, then gave her specific action steps to move her towards healthier behaviors, and held her accountable to take the action steps.

3. Coaching is about transformation; therapy is about change.

A good coach seeks to guide the client through a transformation in one or more areas of life including career, relationships, emotional wellness, finances, addiction recovery, spiritual life, and physical health and wellness.

4. Coaching is about momentum; therapy is about safety.

Every coaching session should result in specific action steps to move the client closer towards their goals. A momentum is then developed that keeps the client progressing towards the results they seek.

5. Coaching is about intuition; therapy is about feelings.

A coach is more interested in your behavioral choices than your feelings. A good coach will sense how to inspire and motivate you to be the best version of you.

6. Coaching is about joy; therapy is about happiness.

Joy is internal and may derive from one’s beliefs and accomplishments. Happiness is external, future oriented, and can rely on outside situations, events, or people. Coaches often find that their clients have profound joy from their new way of thinking and the goals they have accomplished.

7. Coaching is about performance, therapy is about progress.

The coaching relationship is typically much shorter than the therapy relationship and during this time the coach seeks to motivate peak performance from the client.

Often the coach’s job is to guide their client to a win. For example, I recently coached the director of a large organization through the termination of a toxic employee. The client said hiring a coach was “the best money the organization ever spent”. The client was guided through performing a difficult task the best way possible. The client had a peak performance, and now the entire organization is performing better.

8. Coaching is about synchronicity; therapy is about timing.

In the initial coaching sessions an assessment is performed on various aspects of the client’s life to not only assess current satisfaction levels, but also look for patterns. Later coaching sessions may assess the client’s values, past experiences, and talents or gifting to determine whether there is a common thread or possible synchronicity.

9. Coaching is about attraction; therapy is about protection.

Coaching leads clients into new ways of thinking and behaving that result in the achievement of goals and success.

Some individuals are not quite ready for coaching. They may need to seek treatment from a therapist to build a strong and healthy foundation where they can protect themselves emotionally before working with a coach.

10. Coaching is about creating; therapy is about resolving.

Coaching is about creating a new and exciting future through setting and achieving goals. I often tell clients, “your dream job doesn’t exist–you have to create it!” Coaching looks to the future, often through the coach asking the client a series of thought provoking questions.

Therapy is about resolving–trauma, conflict, past hurts, etc. Therapy is excellent for resolving issues from one’s past.

Hopefully this sheds some light on some of the differences between Life Coaching and Therapy. Both are great tools to help individuals, families, and organizations be healthier, happier lives and more successful.

For more information on coaching, or a referral to a great therapist, please email randy@randymoraitis.com. You can also visit my websites www.randymoraitis.com and www.carepossible.org.

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What’s Your Superpower?

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

What’s your superpower? No, really, what is it? Your first thought may be that you don’t have one–that real people don’t have superpowers!

But I encourage you to give the idea of a superpower a little more thought.

My theory is that many of us have superpowers without even realizing it.

But probably not the kind of superpower you think. I’m not talking about the ability to fly, super human strength, or x-ray vision. Although having those powers would be fun!

I am talking about superpowers that can enable us to accomplish impressive feats that, on first glance, may not seem like a superpower at all.

You see, there is great power in overcoming adversity. And there are many examples of folks who have overcome adversity and used that experience as a superpower to achieve success.

For example, did you know that Richard Branson, the billionaire founder and chairman of The Virgin Group, credits dyslexia for his success. Branson says he used dyslexia to his advantage and learned to delegate tasks to others so he could focus on the big picture.

Brandon’s not alone. Tom Cruise, Jay Leno, and Cher, just to name a few others, also had dyslexia. These superstars have all overcome their learning disability and have been empowered by the experience.

Another example of someone tapping into their superpower is renowned psychiatrist Paul Meier, MD. Dr. Meier was diagnosed with ADHD. But he never let that stop him from achieving his goals. On the contrary, Dr. Meier actually credits much of his success to his ADHD as he claims to have leveraged the ADHD to increase his accomplishments–which are many (co-founder of clinics, author of numerous books, multiple masters degrees in addition to his medical degree).

How about you? What have you overcome?

  • Addiction
  • Grief
  • Trauma
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Learning Disability

If you have overcome any of the above, then I truly believe that you have a superpower! Perhaps your have the superpower of compassion, or focus, or patience, or tenacity.

You don’t have to be a celebrity to have a superpower. In my roles working with those impacted by mental health and addiction issues I encounter folks with amazing superpowers everyday. True everyday heroes!

I encourage you–take a moment right now to look inside and tap into your superpower–your inner-superhero. Then consider how you may use it for your success, and like a true superhero–for helping others.

About Randy Moraitis: I am a pastor, counselor, lifecoach, interventionist and consultant living in Orange County. I am also the president of the nonprofit foundation CarePossible which provides mental health and addiction care to low income and military families. My wife Kim and I have a blended family of five and have the superpowers to prove it! Contact me at randy@carepossible.org. Websites: www.randymoraitis.com and www.carepossible.org.

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5 Top Apps for Mental Health and Wellness

We use our phones and hand held devices for so many things! So why not mental health and wellness? Here are 5 great apps that offer help for a variety of afflictions and issues. Check them out, give them a try, and please share so we can all spread good mental health together!

1. Stop, Breathe & Think–This is a great, free app that has a 5 star rating and is a Webby Award Winner. I love this app and use it myself for relaxation and meditation. I also have many of my counseling and coaching clients use this app with great success.

The app is a simple tool to guide one through a variety of basic mindfulness meditations. Users can also check in with how they’re feeling and even notify their counselor or friend once a meditation has been completed.

 

2. Balanced–This is another free, 5 star rated app. Balanced helps users stay focused and motivated on their priorities. This app allows users to set a variety of goals each week, and helps one feel rewarded, in control, and focused on what to do next for success.

I personally use this app to remind me of weekly goals such as watching a TED Talk, meditating, and being thankful.

 

3. Mindshift–This app is specifically designed for those struggling with anxiety. Although not as highly rated as the above apps, my experience is that counselors love what this app does for their clients as a tool for managing and working through anxiety. The app includes a section on situations that trigger anxiety and how to have healing, as well as some great “chill out” tools and Twitter-worthy inspirational quotes.

 

4. PTSD Coach–This is a great app that was developed by the Department of Veteran Affairs National Center for PTSD. Although originally intended for use by vets with PTSD, a quick read through the reviews shows that many civilians have been helped by this app as well.

I am passionate about serving our military, treating PTSD, and preventing military suicide, so naturally I am a big fan of this app and hope readers of this blog will share so all our military families learn about PTSD Coach.

 

5. Optimism–This is a 4 star rated app that helps users with self-tracking as a tool for coping with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and PTSD. The app allows users to create a custom wellness plan and is particularly useful when the user is working with a mental health professional.

Give these apps a try if you could use some support and coaching right at your fingertips. And if you know of a great app that you recommend, please share in the comments section.

And please help spread good mental health by sharing this blog post. Thank you!

Feel free to email me at randy@randymoraitis.com or call me at 949-303-8264 for more info about this topic or my counseling, coaching or intervention services. Find me on the web at www.randymoraitis.com and www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)
Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

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5 Easy Tips To Be Happier and More Productive!

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

It’s so hard to be your best when you’re stressed! Hard to focus, hard to see the big picture, and really hard to be productive. Productivity isn’t just about time management and work–it’s also about having fun, time with family and time to pursue your dreams.

Here are 5 Easy Tips To Be Happier and More Productive that I often share with my clients.

1. The “Top 3 Priorities” Rule: Throw out to-do lists that are miles long! They will just create anxiety and leave you feeling like a failure when you fail to cross everything off the list. Instead, make a list everyday of your Top 3 Priorities–the 3 most important things for you to accomplish that day. The 3 things that move you closer to your work or life goals. Then make sure you do those three things!

Side note–it’s also wise to have a list of your Top 3 Priorities for life in general!

2. Be 10 Minutes Early for All Meetings: Make it a habit to plan on arriving 10 minutes early for all of your meetings or appointments. If you encounter a delay, you will still be on time. If you arrive early use the extra time wisely–pray, meditate, send a note to a friend or loved one, or even write your Top 3 Priorities for the next day!

3. Delegate: One of my favorite sayings is “Only do what only you can do!“. Find one task at home or work that you can delegate to someone else. You don’t have to do everything yourself! Sometimes when we fail to delegate, we rob others of the opportunity to serve, grow or learn.

4. Take a 5 Minute Fun Break When Feeling Stressed: If you find yourself on the verge of getting stressed out, then take 5 minutes to do something fun like play with your pet, watch a funny video on Youtube (only 5 minutes! Be careful–Youtube is where time goes to die!), go for a walk, or do some deep breathing. The point is that your mind-shift will get you back on track and give you a productivity boost.

5. Manage Your Transitions: When you have short gaps of time between meetings and tasks avoid distractions that have no payoff. Instead of wasting time on social media, keep a list of 15 minute or less “filler tasks” (like online banking, returning emails, etc.) and get something done instead!

Challenge: pick one of the above and implement it tomorrow!

You do not have to do all 5 tips right away, but doing at least some of the tips will lead to increased happiness and productivity. You may also find that it’s easier for you to leave your work at work and enjoy more of your home life!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Email me at randy@randymoraitis.com to share your thoughts or for info on counseling or coaching. Find me on the web at www.randymoraitis.com and www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy he will gladly show you pictures!)
Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

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Self-Care for the Caregiver

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Are you in a role where you care for others? If so, you may experience burn out, compassion fatigue, or even vicarious trauma (if you haven’t already!). I believe that if you are a caregiver, then you must have a self-care plan in place to prevent or repair burn out, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma!

The goal of this blog post is to raise awareness of the need for self-care, and to encourage everyone, especially caregivers, to have an effective self-care plan in place.

Caregivers are so important to society and take many forms:

  • Counselors/Therapists/Psychologists
  • Physicians/Nurses
  • First Responders–police, fire, paramedics, EMT’s
  • Social Workers
  • Pastors/Ministry Workers

If you are in one of the above roles, then a good self-care plan is vital to your long term health, your future success, and your personal relationships.
Compassion Fatigue is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time. It is a common occurrence in most of the roles listed above. Compassion fatigue is also known as secondary traumatic stress. Ask yourself if you may have some compassion fatigue.

Vicarious Trauma is defined as “a transformation in the helper’s inner sense of identity and existence that results from utilizing controlled empathy when listening to clients’ trauma-content narratives. In other words, Vicarious Trauma is what happens to your neurological (or cognitive), physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual health when you listen to traumatic stories day after day or respond to traumatic situations while having to control your reaction.” (Vicarious Trauma Institute http://www.vicarioustrauma.com/). Ask yourself if you may have experienced vicarious trauma.

Start Self-Care Now!

One of the most important aspects of an effective self-care plan is consistency. Below are suggestions for self-care. Whichever options you choose–be consistent and put these activities on your calendar to ensure they happen!

Self-Care Activities:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Prayer
  • Exercise/Fitness Activities
  • Martial Arts
  • Counseling
  • Support Groups
  • Church
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Nutrition

I recommend choosing at least two to three items from the above list. As someone who has been a caregiver for many years and has heard and experienced many traumatic experiences, I have done all of the above, over time, to help me stay healthy.

Additionally, caregivers must have a healthy support network of several friends, and/or mentors, that can be counted on for conversation and support when needed.

Finally, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to all the caregivers out there! You are loved, appreciated, and worthy of good care!

I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions on this topic. You can comment below or contact me at randy@randymoraitis.com or 949-303-8264. Visit my website www.randymoraitis.com for info on counseling or coaching, and our nonprofit foundation at www.carepossible.org.

About Randy Moraitis

Randy is married to Kim and they live in Laguna Niguel. Together they have a blended family of five adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. (If you don’t believe Randy, he will gladly show you pictures!)Randy is a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP) and expert in helping families and individuals affected by addiction and/or mental health issues. He is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor and is both licensed and ordained as a pastoral counselor. He has five professional coaching certifications and loves working with clients on executive coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching and recovery coaching. Randy has a master’s degree with emphasis in theology and counseling, a bachelors degree in management and leadership, and a certificate in health and fitness with emphasis in exercise physiology and sports psychology from UC Irvine. He has been helping groups, individuals and families get mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in Orange County for over 25 years.

8 Tools for Relapse Prevention

By Randy Moraitis, MA, CIP, BCPC

Hardly a day goes by that I am not approached by someone–either an addict in recovery who is struggling to stay clean, or the loved one of an addict concerned about their loved one relapsing and overdosing.

These are people from all walks of life, yet they usually ask the same question—a question truly born out of desperation, and that question is: “What should I do?”

To help answer that question I offer these 8 Tools for Relapse Prevention. If an addict in recovery sincerely works in these eight areas they will greatly reduce the likelihood of a potential fatal relapse. This is important for both the addict and the family to know.

8 Tools for Relapse Prevention

1. Meetings—addicts need to go to recovery meetings such as AA, NA, CA, Celebrate Recovery, or Lifelines.Meetings are where you learn new things to help the brain heal from the damage caused by the addictive behaviors, and where you can find encouragement from hearing the experience, strength and hope of others staying clean. There is great wisdom in attending 90 meetings in 90 days for those trying to get and stay clean.

2. Counseling—addicts often have some deep down issues that, if never addressed, will continue to
rear their ugly heads and possibly trigger relapse. Issues such as anxiety, depression, and trauma can be processed with a good counselor or therapist and the addict can be given tools to grow in healthy ways. The counselor may also recommend a medical exam for a complete assessment and treatment plan.

3. 12 Steps—the 12 steps are an amazing tool for healing and spiritual growth. I highly recommend everyone work through the steps as they are even beneficial to those not in recovery from addiction. Here is a great site with info on the 12 steps: http://12step.org/

4. Sponsor—addicts need a sponsor to guide them through the 12 steps. I recommend a sponsor be of
the same sex, have one year or more of sobriety, and have worked through the steps with their own sponsor. The addict should find a sponsor they trust who meets these guidelines, then take direction from the sponsor.

5. Health and Wellness—this includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, stretching, and relaxation/meditation. I highly recommend those in recovery find a healthy activity that they enjoy such as crossfit, martial arts, running, surfing, or yoga. This will give them some good clean fun, get those endorphins flowing, and often lead to making new, healthy friends.

6. Family Support—addiction is a family disease. If you have a family member or loved one impacted by addiction, guess what? You are impacted by addiction! Family members of addicts will help the addict, and themselves, by attending Al-Anon or CoDa meetings. Seeking counseling to learn healthy ways to support the addict
without enabling, as well as how to have healthy self-care is also recommended.

7. Recovery Coach—a good recovery coach will give the addict numerous tools to stay clean and sober and hold them accountable in their growth and sobriety. Additionally, a recovery coach will guide the addict to find purpose in life. Once a person has purpose and they are passionate about it, they are more likely to stay focused on achieving their purpose and less likely to relapse.

8. God—the 12 steps were designed to take people on a spiritual journey and trust in a higher power. Many addicts fresh in their recovery have no idea who their higher power is. That’s normal and to be expected. My personal experience is that I have seen thousands of addicts over the years have great success choosing God as their higher power. Having a spiritual foundation gives one much needed strength during times of temptation and triggers. The Life Recovery Bible is a great resource to learn more about the intersection of faith and recovery, and prayer can be a powerful tool for healing.

I would love to hear if you have any tools you recommend for relapse prevention. You can email me at randy@randymoraitis.com or visit my website for more info on counseling and recovery coaching www.randymoraitis.com, or visit our nonprofit foundation CarePossible at www.carepossible.org for info and resources for those in need.