Most of the clients I have encountered over the last decade have often asked how we do it as clinicians…well, I am here to say some days I ask myself the same question. We are as human as the clients sitting in our office and we also have better days than others and even better seasons than others. We have to keep our personal out of professional to the best of our ability and that can take a lot of mental and emotional energy as well. The one things that we are supposed to be practicing continuously is “self-care” and that sounds lovely it was drilled into us in graduate school, but what if you are a single mom, going through a divorce or pandemic, or just having a down day, etc?
The one thing that I do as a clinician is identified that it is a day that I may not be feeling well, drained, down, or underwhelmed. I wish every day was wonderful but in reality, it is not all the time. The second thing I do is that I work to use my self-compassion. I have learned over the years this is the most valuable tool in my toolbox most days. If I can be kind to others then why can’t I be this way to myself??? It does take practice, but it is doable and yields great results.
Mindfulness self-compassion is something Dr. Kristin Neff researched and teaches three parts, first is mindfulness, the second is common humanity and the third is compassion towards self. On days that I am not feeling as good and maybe I am more judgmental and critical of myself that day as well I use the self-compassion breaks she teaches.
I stop and put my hand over my heart (this helps to ground you and bring oxytocin in which is the calming hormone that we all need more of), I acknowledged the suffering I am feeling without judgment, remind myself that I am not alone in this journey because I am part of the common humanity and then say a little blessing, prayer or intention over myself. This little break can be so powerful that it can change your whole outlook or response to the next task at hand. I encourage you to practice it daily and as often as you need just like a drug that you take PRN . The cool thing there are only good side effects and it’s free.
Another thing that if focus on when I am feeling bad is gratitude. I once did a 365-day project of focusing daily on something that was mundane and small but I was grateful for and documented it with a picture on Instagram. I can not tell you how powerful this was for me. My attitude towards life has never been so changed. So when they say gratitude will change your attitude they are not joking!!!
Another thing that helps is to move. Moving your body shifts and changes your energy. My favorite is yoga because it helps me not only get into my body but access my breathe and practice mindfulness. I can always tell a difference after even a five or ten-minute practice even if it was to be in a child’s pose and focusing on deep belly breathing. I can become more energized if I am feeling low or I can feel more grounded and calm depending on the poses and actions I take during the practice.
Now if yoga is not your thing movement, in general, can be helpful for our moods. Walking, jogging, dancing with your kids, playing on the playground, whatever you choose can help to release tension, build up energy and or renew energy whatever your need is that day.
Finally, the last thing I try and always focus on is hydration. Getting enough H2O in for the day. This means to also watch how much caffeine I am intaking and what kind. Tea can be a great alternative, if you want caffeine support try green tea and skip the sodas and expensive Starbucks frappucinos. Our bodies are made up mostly of water so it needs water to stay in the flow and help us not be so low…LOL, I made a rhyme. No, but seriously water has oxygen in it so it helps oxygenate us properly, think more clearly, be more focused, and overall flush out the toxins that lead to other unhealthy outcomes.
So to answer the question of therapists having bad days, yes, yes we do! But how we navigate it may look a bit different if we use the tools that we ask our clients to use. Remember you are your best healer, so use the tools that you have accumulated, and put them into practice too daily. The more you use them the more you don’t lose them! (HAHA I made another rhyme, I am such a dork!).
And Remember…Choose you First!!! 🙂