Therapist self-care : Overwhelm

I am writing this week’s blog post more as a therapist than a web designer or social media manager. Because I find self-care so important for all of us out there who are working on our own.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working from home. I love the freedom it gives me to be able to select the hours that I want to work. And no boss looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do. There is the rub, as I am probably the most demanding boss I have ever had in my life. 😊

Being someone with chronic pain I have learnt to set my boundaries and to stick to them. Most of the time I succeed very well. I make my schedules and I try to stick to them, yet if I realize they are not realistic I will allow myself more time.

This works absolutely perfect when it is a project that involves just me. Like writing teaching materials and self-study courses. It also works with my counselling work as I give myself a few days to reply to counselling emails.

It works less well when I do jobs for other people and I know they want me to finish as fast as possible. I have gotten a lot better at this as well. Setting realistic goals when I take on a job.

The thing that still gets me is this: I will close down my computer on a given evening, everything is perfectly on track. I am in the middle of the week and I know exactly what the rest of the week is going to look like. And I know I have enough time to take the breaks I need. After a good night’s sleep, I get going in the morning and I open my laptop, followed by opening outlook…

That is when the rest of the week goes to hell in a handbasket. Someone while I was asleep several people managed to have problems [non-counselling] that have to be handled fast. To be honest, often it is not even the clients demanding it to be done straight away, it’s my internal boss who pushes me to get it done as soon as possible. Sometimes during those moments my mind just shuts down with utter overwhelm. There is so much there that I just don’t know where to start.

These moments used to cripple me and make me feel bad for days. But this week I noticed that even at that I am getting better. Sure the overwhelm is still there and it is still bad for a little while. But nowadays it takes me about an hour to get over it and not a whole day. First I walk away altogether and do something fun for half an hour or so. This really settles down my mind and helps me to accept and not be shocked by the amount of work waiting. Then I go back to the computer and prioritize. What really needs to be done now and what could possibly wait. When all of that is done I really get to work and get it done. Often now that I am calm and focus it will go much faster then my fears told me in the morning. And by the end of the day, I am back on track.

I also visit my own coach regularly and we talk about things like this. Or I seek out friends or other colleagues who work from home. Even when you work alone, you are not alone there are always people out there happy to connect, through the computer or in person.

Please share which things overwhelm you and how you cope with them.

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