May-16-2012

Psychologist, Heal Thyself

I am a psychologist. I love my job. But, sometimes it is hard. There are times when holding the very intense emotions of many people can become overwhelming and fatiguing.

I have learned over the years, that I really need to take my own advice, listen to what I tell others, to maintain my core stability and not burn out. Now, I will admit that there have been days where my stress reliever involved eating chocolate chips. I mean, when they are all in a container and I have to walk into the pantry to get them and I keep moving while I eat them, there are no calories…

I know that is not true. But, sometimes…

So, when I decide that chocolate chips are what I really want, I try to put them in a pretty bowl, mix them with craisins (another health food) and then sit quietly and actually enjoy them.

For me, another stress reducer might be a trip to the shoe store.

But, when I do these things, I know they are temporary fixes, and I can’t depend on them to maintain a sense of happiness. To do this, I really have to take care of myself. I love the information that APA has in its brochure Road to Resilience. I use this booklet all the time with patients. It is good stuff.

So, I keep in touch with and see my girlfriends. I try to laugh as much as I can. I spoil my grandkids. I try not to catastrophize. I meet regularly with a peer consultation group. We really get each other and the work-related stress. I set goals that are challenging, but realistic. I have great exercise tapes I can do at home. I try to practice relaxation techniques, especially right before I fall asleep.

And I am working on saying “no” to new projects. I admit that one is tough.

I am a lot like my father. I remember an article about him in our local newspaper; it was titled, “Want a job done? Ask a busy man.” I have learned, that like my Dad, I know I have to get away to really relax. So I do. I know this takes time. But I have learned that if I don’t take care of myself, I don’t feel well, and I really can’t be authentic with my patients.

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