Posted on June 27, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek
Sometimes counseling individuals is hard. This is one of those times. I feel pulled into the despair, anxiety, and troubles of my precious clients, and I know it’s a signal for me to slow down. After all, it is almost the middle of summer!
Looking back at the last six months, I am amazed at how much I have grown and changed, even in spite of the fatigue. I have noticed that self-care practices have been particularly important for me to lean on, especially lately. I thought I would share some of my favorite self-care practices, or what Barbara Brown Taylor affectionately calls the things that are “saving my life right now.”
Remember: be kind to yourself. You are not alone and worth the work!
1. In order to alleviate anxiety and practice detachment, I now practice EMDR on my phone via the Anxiety Release app. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, or EMDR, is an evidence-based therapy for anyone who has survived trauma, whether that’s big “T” trauma like sexual assault or little “t” traumas that assail all of us, at some point or another. The app provides several short sessions of tonal bilateral stimulation, which helps us get unstuck from obsessive thinking and allows for a greater sense of relaxation and peace. I can’t recommend it enough. (It’s advised to use them when you are feeling anxious in the moment, and not something to be done as a daily relaxation protocol.)
2. I recite the first line of the Serenity Prayer during difficult times to find stability: God, grant me the serenity. Truly, it is a remarkably healing prayer.
3. Coloring with markers is a wonderful way to release stress and making affirmations using markers is even better.
4. Reminding myself that I don’t fix but educate others is a helpful antidote for me. It is okay to detach with compassion from the suffering of others and remember that everyone, even those living in chaos, are not forgotten about by the Divine. In fact, one might even go so far as to suggest that God is right there with them, in the muck doing what He or She can to honor their choices and to help.
5. I practice gratitude daily through the use of a pretty journal. I write three things I’m most grateful for each morning before I get out of bed in the morning. There is so much evidence that a daily gratitude practice is life-changing that is is remarkable. For any of you (like me) who are bookworms, check out Diana Butler Bass’s latest book on Gratitude.
6. I let go of perfectionism, people-pleasing, and performance as measuring sticks for my worth.
7. In my meditation, I ask God to help me sit with the difficult feelings of overwhelm, compassion fatigue, and neglect. My feelings are a clue for me that I need to slow down, pray, and rest, and there is nothing better than doing absolutely nothing and waiting for answers from the Divine. I sometimes think that God would talk more to us if we just stopped moving for awhile and stayed still long enough to listen.