I am a firm believer in never asking a client to do something that I wouldn’t do myself. Being open and honest with clients is I feel, a duty of care to them. I also think it is important to ensure that clients are aware that I am not perfect, I get anxious moments and low days, and I feel this deepens my understanding of what the client is experiencing, as its nothing that I haven’t experienced myself. So when I began to experience stress-induced anxiety from a busy work life, I had to take a step back and think what I would tell a client in this situation; to address their anxious thoughts and to implement self-care. So that is what I set myself for a personal action point this week, and I for this months blog, I wanted to give you an insight into a perspective of the therapist in the client chair.
In my personal friendship circle, my closest friends tease me that I have a mantra of ‘hello my names Jessica and everything’s fine’, and I’ve often said this with a straight face, whilst inside I felt like I was at breaking point. I struggle with overworking and pushing myself too hard, resulting in painful physiological symptoms. So when clients come in and discuss how they feel like they’re overworking themselves to out run failure, I get it, hook, line, and sinker.
So below is a diary excerpt of the day of a burnout individual who implemented CBT and self-care into their day.
Thursday 11th October 17
Today I woke up overwhelmed, a knot in my stomach and a heaviness. I immediately checked in on my thoughts to notice that my mind was already into the next week, thinking of everything I had to do. For this, I implored a mindfulness technique and asked myself ‘what is happening right now that I have to think about’, so I began to think out my day and nothing more. As the day went on, I began having a negative thought of ‘I should be working right now’, after investigating my thought, I made a brief mental list of the cost and benefits of taking a short self-care break (costs and benefits can be a helpful cognitive tool).
I then set myself four self-care ideas (it is important to note what YOU like doing, not what someone else likes doing). My four self-care tasks were;
Cook a healthy, homemade dinner for this evening
Buy myself a nice bunch of flowers to look at for the week
Light my favorite smelling candle and read a book
Take my dog a walk in the park, with no earphones and appreciate nature and the changing season.
Even though I was back to work in the evening I cannot tell you how much of a difference those few hours accomplished. Self-care alongside challenging negative thoughts is truly the road to happiness. I have been in that place of breaking point from overworking and I have learned the hard way that mental health is the cornerstone to EVERYTHING. Which is why I am such an advocate for self-care for mental health. It is the foundation of your physical health, relationships, work, the list goes on. And if you take care of your mental health, it will take care of you.
Thank you for reading,