Some days our job can feel overwhelming. Other days we feel the incredible blessings and upliftment of what we do. Sometimes those feelings happen within one day!
So, what can you do as a mental health & wellness professional when you’re feeling overwhelmed, burned out, tired, and wishing the next client might be a “no show”?
Here are 8 self-care tips from an unofficial survey of mental health & wellness professionals describing what they do to take care of themselves on a regular basis to help stave off burn out, feeling overwhelmed, and secretly hoping our clients are “easy” today…
Do you schedule lunch and breaks for yourself every day? If we’re not fueled, we can’t help others. EAT YOUR LUNCH - in a peaceful way. Take that needed break. Walk around the building or do some yoga in your office to break up all the sitting.
Do you have your own therapist? All therapists and mental health wellness professionals should really be in therapy themselves - weekly, monthly, or even biannually. Touching base with a seasoned therapist for our own mental health does wonders for our souls. Besides, it’s what we advocate for our clients.
Do you leave your job at the office? Clear mental compartmentalization and boundaries of our work life and home life are necessary for our well-being. Create a ritual for leaving the office at the office. It might be listening to your favorite music full blast on the drive home. It might be swinging by the gym or the YMCA for a 30 minute workout. It might be as simple as saying “I’m home now” when you walk up to your door. It’s the transition that matters most.
Do you practice what you preach? How many times have you told a client they should meditate/eat right/exercise/get enough sleep/create a ritual day for doing laundry/go on date nights with their partner and more? Well, are you doing that yourself? Listen to your own advice and make sure you are incorporating the healthy lifestyle you are coaching your clients to incorporate.
Do you play? Our jobs are serious. We hold space for people that is very sacred. It’s not always easy. So, having fun and laughing on our personal time (and sometimes even in session) is essential to our overall wellbeing. Do silly things. Color in one of those popular and fabulous adult coloring books. Fly a kite. Blow bubbles. Watch a silly comedy. Ensure that you’ve allowed lightness into your life.
Do you have a plan? What do you do when you have a really difficult session? Just move on to the next client? Work to end your sessions on time and take the 10 minutes between for self care. Have a plan for those difficult sessions and try to journal, breathe, take a walk and let it go. Just plan ahead what you will do if… Write the plan down so you’ll know what to do when it happens.
Do you stop? When was your last vacation you took entirely away from your clients? Taking two weeks helps our brain and system reset. So many therapists and mental health & wellness professionals squeak a client in here or there when they are supposed to be on vacation. That’s not taking a break. Part of good therapy and doing our jobs well is helping our clients stand on their own two feet. They should be able to go two weeks without seeing you. It’s actually good for them. (Of course, if your job deals with more severe mental health issues, you would have back up and someone to cover for you.)
Do you recognize how valuable you are to the health of the planet? The work we do is filled with grace and wonder. It’s necessary for: the survival of our planet, helping people be who they were born to be, owning the rights every human being is entitled to, expressing love and receiving love. That’s what this is all about. Connection. Honor yourself and the work you do on an hourly basis. Perhaps have a silent sacred ritual between each client honoring yourself and the work you do.
Remember what the airlines say during the safety check - put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Are you putting on your own mask before you help others?
This blog post was written by Lori Karch, LCSW
Lori Karch is a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist, Workshop Presenter, and Consultant who has been in private practice in Indianapolis, Indiana, since 2004.
Lori works mainly with couples and those looking to improve their relationships. She leads the popular Getting The Love You Want Weekend Workshop for Couples as well as the Keeping The Love You Find Weekend Workshop for Individuals.
Her passion and enthusiasm for working with couples stems from her personal experience in finally getting it right in her own relationship. She wants all couples to experience the relationship of their dreams! For 19 years, Lori and her partner have truly enjoyed each other and their relationship. Imago relationships work!