In today's post, I'm sharing content from this week's Get Refreshed Challenge for therapists and mental health professionals. The challenge is designed to guide therapists through reflecting on daily topics, releasing past disappointments and burdens, and refocusing on the possibilities that exist for their work and lives.
The challenge was inspired by my evolving therapist life, as well as a recent article I read about therapists’ work-life balance. I decided it was time to be more vocal about questioning the ways we are living our therapist lives, and to do what I could to generate a more expansive and encouraging conversation about how we navigate our work and personal lives.
In this post, I cover two themes featured in the challenge: Balance vs. Flow, and Soul Care and Self Care. For each theme, you'll find reflection questions meant to help you consider how the theme applies to your current therapist life.
1 | Balance vs. Flow
Trying to balance it all--our clients, treatment ideas, learning, family, ambition, etc., is a difficult task. And, perhaps it misses the heart of what it means to live refreshed. Should balance be the goal? Balancing, of course, requires movement; it is an active process, which makes it an appropriate metaphor for life. However, I also appreciate the options offered to us by cultivating presence--getting lost in activities and moments. I don't mean to imply that "balance" and "presence" are at odds; but, I want to welcome new language and ideas about what it means to live as a therapist.
For the therapist, there is no such thing as work-life balance. That doesn't mean that we live overwhelmed by our work, but that we can design ways to move between our personal and professional roles. We can start thinking differently about the ways that our work and life intertwine in order to create the flow in our lives that we need and desire.
“Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. . . . The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
- What were the most challenging aspects of being a therapist in the past year (at work or at home)?
- What did you do to manage these challenges that brings you pride?
- How satisfied are you with the way that your work and life intersect?
- What is going well?
- What would you like to do more of/improve?
2 | Self Care and Soul Care
Self care is a constant conversation in the therapist life--internally and externally. We hold it as a mandate. We know its importance, but it can easily become another task in an already busy schedule. For therapists, it often becomes a burden.
For this reason, we are called to soul care rather than self care. Or, perhaps, we can think of self care as behavior that helps us accomplish soul care. Soul care is a lifestyle that incorporates the flow requested by our lives--our loved ones, our clients, our bodies. Soul care is about paying attention to moments.
“Care of the soul is a continuous process that concerns itself not so much with ‘fixing’ a central flaw as with attending to the small details of everyday life, as well as to major decisions and changes.”
Soul care is a practice of listening and responding to the messages found in our emotions, longings, frustrations . . . it is a way that we honor who we are.
- How has soul care (or self care) been challenging for you?
- If you were living a lifestyle of soul care, what is one thing that would be different in the way you manage your day?
- What are you already doing that fits your vision for this lifestyle?
Living refreshed means that we take a pause to reflect, reach out and connect, and make changes when they're required. But, it all begins with finding and taking time to check-in with ourselves. Hopefully, this post and these questions were an invitation to pause.
Let me know in the comments below:
- What is one thing that resonated with you from this post?
- Share your answer to any of the reflection questions.
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