COVID PANDEMIC NOTE
The covid pandemic has caused tremendous disruption and stress, which continues even as the pandemic wanes for many of us. While this post was written long before the pandemic, and it has a “regular life” tone, I’d like to say that now is the time we need to pay as much attention if not MORE to taking care of ourselves and others with calm, with high quality nurturing, good boundaries and creativity and innovation.
WISHING YOU WELL-BEING AND CALM
You might be thinking – Are you kidding? I’m lucky if I get a bathroom break.
I previously wrote a post, Appreciation for the Important Work that You Do. I opened with the acknowledgment that therapy, while fulfilling and meaningful, is really challenging and hard work.
In the midst of sessions and groups and paperwork and all the other demands, it can feel like there isn’t enough time to do the job, let alone take breaks.
(And, there really might not actually be enough time to do the job. If you find yourself saying, “It’s not possible to do all this,” that might really be true. And you wouldn’t be alone. But that’s a topic for another time.)
In all the busyness, self-care easily gets lost. You might get the bare minimum (bathroom breaks and hurried lunch) but end up “running on fumes” instead of “filling the tank”.
And then you find yourself with a lot of…. procrastination…facebook… chit chat… daydreaming… comfort food… complaining…. In more extreme forms, you might get sick or find yourself having to deal with a family emergency.
It’s your system’s duct-taping in action, trying to get you at least some of what you need. But it’s really just a band-aid, and my guess is that you could use some more quality downtime – probably both on and off the job.
When you don’t intentionally take breaks you miss out on the restorative power they provide.
Just imagine taking high-quality break time, restorative downtime, and having more flow and pacing throughout your days, weeks, and months. (Hey, imagine a hammock in your office!)
I’d like to offer the thought that this is not a nice extra, but is actually a crucial factor in self-care, growth, and development, as well as professional integrity and efficacy.
It’s about making your personal re-fuelling just as important as a race-car driver’s! It’s about protecting your needs and reaping the benefits.
So, where’s the time for this? You are already taking some time for this without realizing it, through procrastination and all those other time-suckers. If you pause and consider what you’d really like or need for some break time, you can try scheduling it in and fiercely protecting it and see what happens. You might be amazed at what a little high-quality re-fuelling can do even in a tiny amount of time.
How about five minutes of yoga instead of browsing the internet? Maybe a brief break outside with a coworker instead of cookies and office politics? Adding three deep breaths when you’re done with each progress note? Kinda like sneaking spinach into brownies (and those can be VERY tasty…)
Let’s turn to the body to generate some creative wisdom.
YOUR BODY KNOWS
Read through the guidelines below and then spend as much or as little time as you’d like exploring the ideas.
First, get comfortable. Take some nurturing inhales and relaxing exhales. Stretch, shake out your hands, sigh. Smile or relax your face. Do what works for you.
1. Tap into your sense of busyness.
Take a moment to remember what it’s like to feel busy, overworked, tired, stretched-thin, etc. Notice what that feels like in your body. Scan your body head to toe and be curious. Maybe you notice tension or heaviness, glazed eyes or busy thoughts.
2. Consider a way you tend to unconsciously take breaks.
Do you get lost in a computer screen, drown in social connection when you really need to be alone, get obsessive about notes? When you pick something that is a standard go-to for yourself, notice what happens in your body?
3. Consider a way you might choose to take intentional breaks.
Turn your attention to some ways you might want to choose a different kind of break and when you land on a good one, imagine yourself doing it. Really let yourself sink into what it would feel like. Notice what happens in your body now.
Can you imagine how this might begin to make things a little different? Can you imagine how this might change your energy flow, your perspective, your sense of competence even? Can you make a commitment to trying it out?
The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.
~Attributed to both Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris
I would love to hear about your experience with this exercise. If you’d like to share, please get in touch.
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This article is intended for informational purposes only.
It is not to be considered as legal, ethical, clinical, treatment planning, treatment recommendations, or any other business or clinical practice advice related to your work as a therapist, or business advice on how you choose to use this material.
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© 2021 Annabelle Coote & Fire Within.