Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mental Health Check-In and Respite ...

Hi everyone! Just a quick post before I leave for the States for my annual mental health check-in and a few days of relaxation in warmer climes.

When we work in environments that are continuously stressful (at work or at home) and we are frequent witnesses to others' stories of trauma and loss, it is essential to take the time to check in with a skilled observer and supporter who can give us objective feedback regarding our current state of emotional wellness.

Are we carrying a load of accumulated grief or primary or secondary traumatic stress? Are we burned out? Are our stressors affecting important areas of our lives - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual? Are they affecting the quality of our work with the people we're trying to help or with our relationships within our support systems? Are we using the most helpful coping mechanisms? It's a good thing to schedule a regular check-in to be sure.

While I'm away, I'll schedule a couple of mornings with my therapist and then ease into respite activities like reading, resting, walking, perusing the wonderful farmers markets and bookstores, and wandering along the beach. I'll also eat amazing organic fruit and vegies, add a couple of hours to my usual night's sleep, and generally s-l-o-w down. Last year, I wasn't able to make the trip and a couple of Skype visits had to suffice. I'm r-e-a-l-l-y looking forward to stepping off the plane tonight, breathing in some of  the warm, floral air, and feeling my body relax...

Now, some of you are probably thinking, "I could never find the time to do that." And you would be right - you'll never find the time. It's really necessary, in our crazy busy world, to carve it out - to sacrifice where you can for the financial element, to beg favours from family and friends to cover your responsibilities, and, sometimes, to wait longer than you'd like to have the check-in and respite for which your body and soul are yearning.

Why not let yourself consider making a check-in appointment and scheduling some sustained respite today - even if you're working two years in advance as I was. If nothing else, it gives you something to look forward to!

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