You Can Take a Break!
By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
So it’s Monday evening and I realized that I had not done my blog for the week. I even began this blog (in an initial draft) by saying that my post is a little late! Then I reflected on the reasons why I feel this way and mostly it is my own expectations that I have set for myself. In beginning a new business, I have lots of weekly goals and expectations for myself and overall, they help keep things structured and keep me motivated. (One of which includes doing a blog on Mondays). However, I also can end up feeling as if I am never doing enough if I do not meet or exceed my own expectations each week. This strong work ethic is the reason why I tend to be successful in school and work but sometimes it certainly does get in my way when the expectations become more unrealistic. Sometimes I find myself adding a lot of pressure to always do more and more and more. Owning my own business has really exacerbated this tendency. So much so that I find myself working as much as possible, even when it might not be needed or productive and I might need a break.
Interestingly enough, as a psychologist, I also fundamentally believe in the need for balance. One of the biggest lessons of graduate school was the benefit of leading a balanced life. I know this sounds a bit odd because graduate school is certainly a stressful time for most people. For me though, it was a time to really dig in and reflect on what works in my life to maintain balance and my own emotional health. This is so important and often referred to as “self-care” in our field. I believe that it is crucial for anyone, but particularly those in a helping profession, to figure out what they need to operate as their best selves. If we do not do this, we truly can’t be as effective in how we help others. For me, my self-care usually involves some time for pleasure reading, walks by the beach, time with my loved ones, and cooking.
While I was reflecting on my week last week, I recognized my need to slow things down and regain the balance that I usually have in my life. I have certain warning signs that tell me that my life is a bit out of balance. Sometimes I notice that I am working more. Sometimes I notice that I am neglecting to see my friends and loved ones. I usually start feeling more fatigued and just worn out. And recently one of my signs has been that I am always either doing something for my business or towards planning my wedding! And yes, while my recent engagement is beyond thrilling, it has certainly disrupted the balance I have been seeking and sometimes even found in the past few months as a new business owner! All my constant researching, looking things up, and planning (for business and the wedding) left me feeling more worn out and less motivated to work on my smaller goals with marketing, networking, and administrative tasks. Luckily, I do not feel worn out from my work with my clients as I truly love what I do!
When I noticed that I was running on empty, I set a whole new goal for myself. Don’t worry, it’s not another unrealistic perfectionist goal though. My goal for the weekend was to take the weekend off from work (apart from client contact when needed of course). When I found myself and my energy wandering back to my work, I simply redirected it in another direction and added whatever I was thinking I “should” do to my to do list for this week while keeping realistic expectations.
I found this to be extremely helpful to recharge my batteries and reclaim some balance. One of the most rewarding experiences for me is when I allow myself to take a step back, re-evaluate my needs and current situation, and take action on it! Today, I woke up feeling refreshed and more energized than I was last week, which was so worth putting my perfectionistic side of myself on the shelf for the weekend.
Thanks for reading! I hope this post can inspire others to work on how they define "enough" in work and life and increase their self-care!
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