A couple of weeks ago I went on vacation with my fiancé and his mom. We travelled to Alberta where we spent 5 days with my fiancé’s brother. The five days were exhausting, packed with multiple events throughout the days and went by so quickly, that I did not even realize it was time to come back home. The week before leaving for vacation, I got a call from a company that needed to bring in counsellors as a tragedy occurred on site. For 3 days, over a span of 18-20 hours, I spoke with employees about what they heard, saw and how they were impacted after the tragedy occurred. Some were directly involved with the incident, while others saw the aftermath or stayed away from the accident site altogether and just heard about the events that transpired. Emotional fatigue and secondary trauma kicked in. I had never worked with so many people in such a short period of time. I am still considered a rookie in the counselling world and burnout is high in this population. I remember coming home, and my mother in law began sharing stories of freak accidents that she remembers seeing or hearing about as a child, and I had to ask her to stop. She couldn’t understand why. I explained to her that I was mentally drained and after hearing so many stories about the freak accident that took place in this company, I had ‘checked out’ mentally and just needed some quiet time. This was one of the first burnout symptoms I recognized. The vacation to Alberta- although planned before getting the phone call from this company was perfectly timed! Just removing myself from the place altogether (in this case provinces) was a great way to completely disconnect myself from the trauma that occurred in the company. The trip kept me so busy and focused on what was happening in that moment that I did not have the time nor the energy to think about the prior week’s sessions. Not only was the temporary distraction beneficial, but being mindful throughout the trip was also effective. If I was not mindful (informally), I would have missed out on the beautiful mountains of Jasper and the seal show at the West Edmonton Mall. Although, it is a great excuse to go back to Alberta! If you find that you’re getting exhausted more so than your ‘normal’, take a vacation. It does not have to be one of leaving the province or country, but something local too. Go to the local sights, be mindful in the time you spend at the site, and I am sure that it will allow for your mind to clear its’ thoughts as well as provide a refreshing and rejuvenating experience. I hope that by taking some time for yourself, you are able to come back to your ‘normal’ as well; remember that you may also utilize supervision to help process remaining distress.
By Bhavna Verma
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
When we know we’re on our “A” game, we totally feel awesome! When a client has their ‘lightbulb’ moment, due to our reframing- we feel awesome! When we advocate on a client’s behalf and they are granted their much deserved rights- we feel awesome! The list continues. But, the question is; what defines awesomeness? Jeff Boss wrote ’14 Signs You’re On The Path To Awesomeness’ for Forbes. I will focus on the areas that resonated with me, however, the link will be provided as well for you to review. The first one that I really gravitated towards was ‘When life curveballs are thrown at you, you take a swing’. For me, this indicates that you are not concerned with how you may be perceived in the eyes of others; you will take that swing no matter what! Which, in our field of work, this means trying new therapeutic approaches and becoming creative in style. The client may comment that the idea is silly, but without trying, you would never know if it worked! Another sign that I felt was important was ‘Top performers are willing to be wrong’. There is no weakness in accepting that you are wrong, so long as you are willing to learn and find out the correct answer. We’re not perfect, and we won’t have all the answers. So why not just let our clients know that we don’t know? Again, so long as we express that we will find out! The third and final sign of awesomeness that struck me was, ‘Top performers love uncertainty’. Why this particular sign resonated with me was because I am not a fortune teller. I can’t possibly know what concern or state of mind a client will walk into my office with. Therefore, why have a plan? By accepting that there are uncertainties, we are better therapists. Why? Because, again, no situation is perfect! And, personally, I enjoy the unknown. It keeps me on my toes and I welcome the challenge. There are 11 other signs of awesomeness that Jeff has on his list. Have a look, and see which resonates with you. These signs are great reminders for when we are feeling burnt out, tired, and fatigued. They remind us that we have the tools to not only support our clients, but also maintain our own self-care. If we have mini pep talks before each session, with a simple, “You are awesome”, the session will go extremely well.
Reference: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2014/07/26/14-signs-youre-on-the-path-to-awesomeness/ *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
I recently went to India for a much needed vacation! It was one heck of a trip; multiple time zone changes, grueling flights, and extreme weather changes as well. But, totally worth it! The trip was a combination of meeting family, as well as shopping for my upcoming wedding. It was both chaotic as well as relaxing. Chaotic because New Delhi is a city that never stops! It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, or season, there will always be constant movement; and relaxed, because I got sick halfway through the trip which forced me to stay indoors. Being sick turned out to be the best thing ever! I was able to spend time with family that I had never had a chance to before. It allowed us to not only learn about each other but create a newfound bond. Throughout my past few posts, I had mentioned that there were many resenting situations and stressors in my life. Taking this much needed time out was a perfect way to not only accept the past unpleasant experiences, but also let them go and forge forward. In a way, it allowed me to come back to my world renewed and energized (once the jet lag wore off that is). I have mentioned before that time outs are crucial to having a long healthy relationship with others, as well as maintaining self-care. These time outs do not have to be short and brief, but can definitely be longer ones if required. I do not want to send the message that the vacation was a way of running away from my stressors; rather, it allowed me remove myself from the environment altogether, block them out so that I could fully enjoy my time in India. It also taught me how to recharge my life battery so that I could tackle new stressors. I feel much better now that I am back. I feel like anticipated wedding stress will be a smooth and exciting process because I will not be so bogged down by past experiences. I encourage such time outs. You do not have to take a week-long trip halfway across the world, you can take the time out by even going to a local retreat or spending the weekend away with a loved one! Embrace the time outs, allow for regeneration and utilize the time to breathe, be more mindful and allow yourself to accept and let go of your own personal stressors. *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
I’m breaking out. Pimples galore- small ones, big ones, very angry red ones, shy white head ones, and everything else in between. I’m not happy! Something’s going on internally for my face to break out like this. There’s no winning. It’s a constant battle. I pop one, another appears. The one that I thought I popped and cleaned out completely then comes back with a vengeance. And so the weeks continue in this order; feel a pimple from under the skin, begin face wash routine, it comes to the surface, eventually pops, and then another arises. The strategy that I’ve taken on is one that is managing the pimples as they come up, and not a proactive one to ensure they don’t come up at all. One day, after pointing to a pimple that I thought I had popped, but really came back bigger and angrier, my boyfriend finally said, “These are stress pimples”. He was right, I wasn’t denying that. He was referring to both my work and home life stress. As supportive as he is, he understands that there are only so many ways he can be helpful and the rest is on me. Work and personal life stress were accumulating and both began to bleed into each other. I was struggling with the boundaries. Became very emotional, struggled to get through the day without breaking down into tears, started getting very snippy with those I loved and the pimples were showing no signs of retreat! I needed a new strategy! I began by breaking down the causes of distress into a pie chart; the bigger the slice, the more priority. Then I decided on which slice I would like to metaphorically eat first. I started with the smaller slices. Some slices required more processing than others, but as the weeks went on, I began to notice the pie was no longer whole, but had a couple of slices left. These slices have now become common every day struggles, you know, like what to have for dinner, or what outfit will I wear? When I began to dismiss some of the stressors as unimportant and took away its power to ally with my enemy, the pimples, the pimple army also seemed to diffuse. Now, I’m left with battle scars on my face. At the end, I’m the one that is still standing and smiling, wearing my scars proudly. By working to solve a problem only as it is happening can be progressive for a short period of time. We need to be proactive in order to ensure that the problem doesn’t come back at all, and if it does, nip it in the bud before it becomes an army of pimples.
By Bhavna Verma *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA
It’s so easy to put aside the ‘to do’ list when you’re not in the right state of mind. For example, these blogs need to be submitted bi-weekly; and I, admittedly have not been submitting the blogs on time. I’m sure there are others out there like me which makes me feel validated and normal. But the blogs are not intensive; they are literally between 350-500 words which don’t take too long to produce. So, why has it taken me so long to complete and submit them? Because, my mind, heart and soul just weren’t in it. Recently, there have been a multitude of stressors in my life that have forced me to push aside projects to the back burner. And eventually, insight hit! Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was no longer in the mood to work on the blogs or other projects. I knew that the submission date was coming up, but had no inkling to work on it. We all know that lack of excitement or the pleasure feeling from activities we enjoy is a symptom of burnout. But it is up to us to become aware of the feeling and decide how long this feeling will continue for. At some point, I had to force myself to get my act together, and jump back on the wagon. I’ve committed myself to projects, and I need to follow through with them. Once I labeled my emotion towards the pending projects, it became easier to tackle them. Another variable which I feel is important is that once you have labeled the stage of burnout, you need to inform others too, such as your boss or co-workers; or even Stephanie Ross, who diligently uploads the blogs. Support from family and friends are a must in order to come out of burnout, as it is so easy to get lost in the process. This may just make you feel even worse and perpetuate the symptoms. Express to your family and friends what support you feel you need from them, as it could be different for each person. By specifying what you need, you alleviate doubt and wonder that they may be having as they may not be sure how to help you, and unintentionally end up doing more damage than good. To me, this is also a sign of insight and awareness, as you are able to recognize what helps and what doesn’t. *The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA