Like many helping professionals, I had a bad habit of overextending myself. I took on too much and almost never said, no. I found myself wrought with anxiety and deep in burn out. Overcome with despair and desperation, it became increasingly unhealthy for me to think that I could continue at that frenetic pace. I needed a change and it needed to happen immediately.
I stopped taking new referrals. Sure, others weren’t happy to hear this, but I made myself the priority. I stopped working three nights a week and only see clients until 5pm. I placed a higher value on my time. If clients required paperwork or other services that weren’t billable, I instituted a fee for this work. Next, I delegated some responsibilities to other therapists in my practice. I created positions and compensated more senior therapists accordingly. This was huge and had a positive impact on decreasing my stress level.
What I did next was difficult, but necessary—I terminated five therapists who were high needs, chronic complainers and energy drainers. They were spreading a poison in my practice and before things got out of control, they were terminated. There was a short term disruption to services, but my other staff rallied and we pushed on.
Previously, I had little time to do things that I find refreshing. I reignited my love affair with daily exercise. Oh, how I missed my exercise. Now that I get home at a respectable hour, I can crank out an hour–it’s so good for my heart and soul. I added mindfulness practice to my life. That alone, has been life changing. It has stopped me from projecting myself too far into the future and increased my awareness of the now! I’ve learned to slow down, become more thoughtful and less reactive. I’ve learned to let go of fears, manage others’ expectations of me and have more realistic expectations for myself. I’ve incorporated more social activities, too. I love entertaining, getting lost in cultural events, and traveling.
Things I’ve learned about taking better care of myself:
- Get rid of things are costing you more than what they’re worth
- Manage other’s expectations of you.
- Redefine what it means to be successful
- Exercise your body every day
- Incorporate mindfulness
- Set limits that will help to value your time and energy
- Stop competing with others
- Be fearless—it lessens stress and anxiety.