There are times in private practice when we may feel depleted, which can lead to stress. In a recent discussion I had with colleagues, regardless of where we were in in our counseling private practice journey, we could all identify with the feelings of depletion and stress. At the beginning of the private practice journey, managing fear and uncertainty can leave you feeling depleted and stressed. I talk about this in my article “How to Work Through the Fear of Starting a Private Practice“.
Stress and feeling depleted can also show up at the point in private practice when you have more clients than you know what to do with, and are weighing taking on just one more because it means, well… money. No matter where you are on your journey, as therapists, we are vulnerable to falling into a pattern of giving without taking in. The process of endless giving may leave you feeling like “The Giving Tree” in the children’s book by Shel Silverstein.
Perhaps the usual stress management recommendations such as: take time for yourself, get a massage or practice yoga just feels like another thing added to your overflowing plate. In response to this dilemma, I have adapted a practice I learned while attending Mindful Self-Compassion training with Kristin Neff and Chris Germer. The practice or tips can serve to fill up your cup without putting more stress on your shoulders.
While savoring typically reminds me of food, in this case, I am talking about taking in any feel good moment and allowing it to resonate. It is possible to practice savoring simultaneously while in session with clients or you can take a few minutes if you choose. Some examples of things you may savor are; your comfortable chair, ability to connect, finishing your notes, or a successful session. The idea is to shift from awareness to mindfulness and take something good in and really feel it. You can also take in everyday things that feel good, like a hug, a note from a friend, a sunny day, a good cup of coffee, or a cupcake. Whatever the feel good moment is, allow the feeling to come into your body and hold it for a moment.
2. Gratitude… with a twist
I have probably heard the idea of practicing gratitude or making a gratitude journal more times than I can count. For some reason, it often felt rather cerebral to me or like I was making a grocery list. It wasn’t until the idea of extending gratitude to all the creatures and people that were a part of what I was grateful for that the experience became more meaningful. When thinking of something or someone you are grateful for, also think of all the people and creatures that were a part of bringing it to you.
For example, if you have a favorite mug think about who gave it to you, where it was made, who perhaps worked in the factory or studio where it was made, the material it is constructed with, and who or what was a part of that creation. This process can go all the way to the person who drove the truck to bring the box to the store, the person who put it on the shelf and the person who sold it to you.
What does this have to do with gratitude? Considering all the creatures and people that were a part of what you are grateful for helps expand gratitude. In addition, it strengthens our sense of interconnectedness that can often be missing when we are feeling depleted or stressed. Connection is perhaps why we are all here and it can provide a feeling of support knowing we aren’t alone on this planet or in our office. Having connection can reduce stress.
3. Self-appreciation… plus
I remember hearing the phrase “when we forget our own divinity we suffer”. I also think of this like, “have you high fived your inner rock star lately?” In the course of your day, when you take a water break or on your drive home, take a moment to think about the qualities you appreciate about yourself. It may be your ability to learn quickly, sense of humor, or being a great bargain shopper. Whatever those things are, bring them into your awareness and let it resonate.
To take it a step further, much like the tip above, think of what people were a part of creating your great qualities. What may surprise you is, at times, some of our greatest strengths were forged as a result of challenging relationships. Considering who was a part of cultivating your greatness expands our appreciation and strengthens our feeling of connection. In addition, it may give you the sense that some challenges have silver linings. Is there perhaps an unseen silver lining to what you are experiencing right now?
For more information or tips on managing stress please visit my website, Tara Therapy.
Tara is a licensed professional counselor, licensed alcohol and drug counselor and certified yoga teacher. She has worked in behavioral health for over 16 years and currently has a private practice in West Hartford, CT. Her writing has been featured in Wallingford Connecticut Magazine, Natural Awakenings, and she is a contributing writer on practiceofthepractice.com, TODAY Parenting Team ǀ today.com, psychcentral.com and she is a regular contributing guest on Radio 103.5FM WNHH “The Culture Cocktail Hour”. Having learned from personal experience she is passionate about helping women heal from the past and embrace their future. To find out more about Tara visit: