Stress Relief for Caring Professionals
Are you a caring professional struggling to keep a balance between caring for yourself and caring for others?
Is your schedule so tight that there is no time to take care of yourself despite feeling burnt out?
Do you feel guilty when you try to take care of yourself because of your value of self-sacrifice?
Many professionals like healthcare providers, teachers, and other service providers including family caretakers feel that way. They feel stressed and overwhelmed facing their own challenges while trying to meet the needs of people they care for. Being a healthcare professional, a volunteer, and a mother myself; I too face many of these challenges.
I have shared many personal stories of how I struggle and the solutions that have helped me to deal with these challenges in my upcoming book; “Stress to Joy”. In this article, let me share one of those techniques that have helped me, and many I have shared it with, overcome the feeling of being stuck. I call this technique the “Self-Dialogue Journal.”
A few years ago, I had a realization while talking to one of my patients, who was a nurse by profession. One day, she was sharing how she was feeling stuck and overwhelmed due to multiple demands in her life. She was not able to find time for her self-care. We brainstormed options. She kept on saying, “Yes, but I can’t do that because—” Finally, we identified a few solutions that could work for her.
After the session, I realized that I was going through the same stuck feeling. My back hurt, and I knew that going for a chiropractic adjustment could help me as it had in the past. I just could not find the time to schedule an appointment. Like many caretakers, I felt guilty when I had to cancel my patients’ appointments to take care of myself on a workday. I realized that I am a great adviser when it comes to others. I could brainstorm so many ways that my patient could make time to take care of herself, but I was not able to see those options for myself. That gave me an idea and I decided to help myself.
The following weekend, I opened my journal and started writing a dialogue between a patient and a doctor where I was both the patient and the doctor. I focused on the issue, the options, and the best action plan (IOP). I was complaining about how I felt helpless and stuck in a web of my own creation (the way I had scheduled my life). Whenever I came up with a suggestion, my mind kept repeating the argument, “Yes, but I can’t do that because…” I wrote for an hour and a half that day, and finally, a plausible solution popped up in my writing that had not come to my mind before.
At that time, I worked Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm with a one-hour break for lunch. But what if I could change one Friday per month to 9am-2pm, without a lunch break, freeing up three hours for personal appointments? At that time, my financial situation did not allow me to take a full day off, but I could decrease my patient scheduling by two hours per month. That was plausible. Once I reached that option, I said aloud to myself, “Now follow your advice.”
Although I was not able to implement the change for another month (as my schedule mostly gets booked weeks to months in advance), I still felt immediate relief since I felt that I could do something about the situation. I felt like a big burden was lifted from my shoulders. No longer was I a helpless victim, I was an empowered victor!
Since I first did this exercise to help myself several years ago, I have seen it serve many friends, patients, and seminar attendees. A teacher used the technique successfully when she wrote the dialogue between a teacher and a student and then followed her advice. A mother used a mother/daughter dialogue, and a friend used a friend/friend dialogue. You can use whatever works for you to see the power of stepping out of your way.
I think the reason this exercise works so well is that you get out of your victim role and become the helper or well-wisher for yourself. It is hard to think about solutions when you are so entrenched in the role of a victim. You are usually much kinder to someone else than you are to yourself. When you write like this and step out of your role, your inner wisdom comes out, and you can take on the victor role.
If you don’t do something like this, you may continue to feel stressed and overwhelmed leading to stress-related symptoms like irritability, insomnia, or emotional eating. You know that unaddressed stress can lead to many physical and mental diseases. On the other hand, if you train your brain to change your perspective by using techniques like this and break your stress cycle regularly with different mindfulness techniques, you can enjoy your life of health and happiness. So go ahead and try writing your self-dialogue journal today and get out of that stuck feeling.
If the technique in this article helps you, click ‘like’ button, share it with people you care about, and leave a comment. It motivates me to produce more valuable contents like this to help further you and others like you.
You can learn many more similar techniques in my blogs and my upcoming book; ‘Stress to Joy, Your Toolkit to Restore Peace of mind in Minutes’ ( coming out very soon!!!). Meanwhile, you can download and enjoy a short and effective relaxation exercise to use during your busy commute! You don’t have to sit down for a long time to feel the calm. You can do this exercise while rushing between your activities and still feel relaxed and mindful.
To your health and happiness.
Author, Speaker, and Psychiatrist
All comments will appear after moderator review. The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving emotional, mental and physical balance, but they are not intended to replace treatments prescribed by licensed medical or health professionals.