Growing up, I spent many giggly hours watching ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and reading the books about Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Roo, Kanga, Christopher Robin, and all of their friends. As an adult, I look at these stories and realize the powerful messages they send us: unconditional love and acceptance, the beauty of simplicity, that we are all unique and different. The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet offer extended meditations on these lessons of peace and understanding.
Today I re-watched one of my favorite episodes, “Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore”. The psychotherapist in me couldn’t help but focus on the different roles adopted by the characters as well as the humanity in the story. This particular episode centered on Eeyore, the gloomy donkey with a rain cloud perpetually hanging over his head. Many of us, myself included, can identify with the sadness and despondency that envelopes Eeyore each day. Perhaps there is a part of you that really relates to this. Do you allow this part to have a voice? Do you push it away and try to ignore it because it feels consuming and dreary? Do you judge it and tell it that it doesn’t belong? These actions are the very thing that Eeyore fears. . . that being himself is too heavy for anyone else to love or accept.
When Eeyore goes to hide away and isolate, Pooh goes to find him and try to understand why he is so gloomy that day. Pooh, finding out it’s Eeyore’s birthday, goes to round up his friends to bring him gifts and celebrate. Of course, things go awry (Pooh, unable to control himself, eats the honey that he was bringing for Eeyore, and Piglet trips on his balloon gift and it pops). In the end, all of these characters, who might represent parts of ourselves, sit down at a table and celebrate Eeyore’s birthday. Giving Eeyore space, love, acceptance, attention, and not trying to change him in any way — these actions allowed Eeyore to feel safe and enjoy himself after all. He found that the popped balloon fit better in the (empty) jar of honey than it would have it it was still intact — showing us all that sometimes when things don’t go as planned, they actually turn out better. The silver lining of an unpredicted experience.
Who are the parts of you? Do you have a Tigger — a part that struggles to focus or commit, sometimes says or does the wrong thing but is lovable just the same? Do you have a Piglet — a worrier who wants everything to be okay but doesn’t always know the answer? Do you have a Pooh — a thinker, with great ideas, a peace-keeper, also lovable for his faults? An Owl — wise, knowing, but overcompensating for not being perfect? An Eeyore — gloomy, sad, despondent, brought to life and empowered when his voice is heard and validated? Can all of these parts of you sit down at a table and share a birthday celebration without judgment, exile or banishment?
As Pooh says at the end of this story: “Everybody’s alright, really”. This is a very healing perspective on the essence of human nature — after all, Pooh is the bear that can heal us all.
Take a look at the video yourself and share your perspectives on what Pooh and his friends can teach us — as children, but even more meaningfully as adults.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Try to think about the last time that you felt vulnerable. What were the circumstances? Do you remember what it felt like? How would you describe that feeling? How did the feeling show up in your body?
Was it akin to: feeling open and naked, wondering if you are going to fall off that very high limb that you just put yourself out on? Out of control? Free-falling? Terrifying? Exposed? These all might be words to describe the feeling of vulnerability — among many others. I’m currently engrossed in Dr. Brene Brown‘s newest book: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead in which Dr. Brown spends a lot of time uncovering different facets of vulnerability and tells her own story with this concept that many of us seem to avoid.
Dr. Brown’s definition of vulnerability invited me to pause and truly reflect on my own relationship with being vulnerable. She describes it as:
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. With that definition in mind, let’s think about love. Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow — that’s vulnerability.”
Reading that might cause a ripple of anxiety go up and down your spine. Our society today has adopted a kind of fear mentality that breeds anxiety and avoids vulnerability. We have been through so much in the past decade — war, violence, loss, recession — that we feel we must protect ourselves. But what Dr. Brown asserts, and what many of us might now know, is that being vulnerable comes from a place of power. ”Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, creativity, belonging, joy, courage, and empathy. It is the source of hope, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path,” asserts Dr. Brown.
In short, vulnerability is feeling and feeling is connection to our life’s purpose.
In perusing this, I reflected on my own life story and the character that vulnerability has played. What has it taught me? How has it helped me grow? In exploring this, I am able to help my clients find their own empowerment through vulnerability (while holding space for fear of exploring this topic).
Here are some things that I have done that have made me vulnerable:
And this is how I felt: naked, somewhat raw, but also solid. Dr. Brown surveyed many people with this same question — what did you do to be vulnerable and how did it feel? — and the most common response was “naked”. Naked is what we are when we were born and despite all of the layers we put on throughout the years of our lives, naked vulnerability is the place where we find the inner peace we’re looking for. Why? Because we are expressing ourselves honestly, directly, and wholeheartedly, a light shining from our true selves. When we are our true, open self, we are in touch with emotions that make us human — all shades of emotions, from “dark” ones to “light” ones. And if we can offer acceptance and not judgement to our wide range of emotions, then we are able to overcome challenges and build resiliency.
Dr. Brown suggests that we shy away from vulnerability because we feel we need a “shield” in a society that constantly tells us that we “don’t have enough” or that we “aren’t enough”. This passage, taken from the book The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, really struck me:
“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time”. Whether true or not, that thought of “not enough” occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. . . Before we even sit up in bed, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. This internal condition of scarcity lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, our arguments with life. . . “
What if we embraced that we are enough just as we are today? We don’t need to do anything else? Would that make being vulnerable less scary? What change might happen if we were to embrace vulnerability? And what if being vulnerable was the vehicle for the change that you’re yearning for?
As we continue to explore the complexities of vulnerability and its relationship to shame and other emotions, please take a look at Dr. Brown’s talk about the power of vulnerability — a video that has touched people around the world.
How can you “dare greatly” today?
I love this time of year because there is so much energy given to gratitude. Thanksgiving is a holiday that may bring trepidation and anxiety to folks recovering from eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating disorder, but it is also a day where we are invited to sit down and be thankful for what we have.
There’s not a day that goes by where I am not giving thanks for my recovery from my eating disorder. As I sit and hold space with my clients who are finding their own journey to recovery, I am regularly reminded of my own process and the steps that brought me to where I am today.
The recovery process of an eating disorder is fraught with ups, downs, twists, and turns, and many frustrations and confusions about these peaks and valleys. Why can’t I just stop these behaviors? some might wonder….or, Why am I not able to see myself the way that others do? I have had to answer these questions myself, and the passion I felt for my own health and healing ignited my career path to becoming a psychotherapist who helps others get here too. Sometimes my clients and I contemplate what they could learn from their eating disorder. What is its function? What are its needs? What is it trying to tell you? And even: What is it wanting to help you with?
I know, thinking of an eating disorders as “helpful” might seem bizarre and unconventional. Eating disorders are painful, destructive, and demeaning, you might say. I agree — they are those things. But by looking at it in a new way, in one that invites gratitude and healing instead of illness and pain, we might find a more peaceful path towards the end goal: recovery.
In the spirit of gratitude and thanks, I wanted to offer some insight into what I learned from my eating disorder (perhaps that I might not have learned in the same way if I hadn’t ever had an eating disorder) — and what you can too.
These are a few thoughts that came up as I was contemplating gratitude today, Thanksgiving Eve. I learn new things every day that I am grateful for in my recovery as well as things that my eating disorder has taught me.
I invite you to think about what you are grateful for today and every day and to foster some energy in that direction. If you have recovered from or are in recovery from an eating disorder, what are you taking from the process? What do you want to look back on in ten years and remember about this journey?
Recovery is lifelong. Every day brings a new opportunity to utilize skills, tools, and learnings from our life’s path. And I’m always growing and learning.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for all of you!
Are you looking for support on your journey to recovery? Please contact me today or call me at (720) 340-1443 to schedule a complimentary consultation!
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am enrolled in a writing class through Original Impulse where I am delving deep and becoming more connected to my writer self. This week, we did an exercise where we introduced ourselves to our inner critic (or gremlin) and tried to get to know it instead of avoid it. This technique made me think of principles in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), as it encourages going into the emotion and engaging it with acceptance instead of trying to rid ourselves of it.
I often work with my clients in a similar way to identify and get to know their critic voice. For those struggling with an eating disorder such as bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating, there can be an “eating disorder voice” or “critic voice” that speaks negatively or destructively to them and damages self-esteem and healthy coping. In getting to know the voice, speaking back to it, individuating ourselves from it, we can feel empowered and free. We can even utilize the voice’s power for our own good — try to understand what it needs, what it wants, and how it can help us instead of harm us.
I thought I’d share the exercise we did in writing class, altered slightly to speak to the eating disorder voice or whatever the critical voice means for each of us. We all have an Inner Critic. How can we reach across the aisle and enlist his/her support?
When we challenge ourselves or commit to a difficult task (like recovery), sometimes our inner critic can get LOUDER and try to convince us that the effort isn’t worth it. Have you ever had that experience? This is common, so if you come across it don’t let the critic voice get in the way of pursuing your goals. Instead, get to know it – give him or her some direct attention:
Once you have a clearer picture of your Inner Critic’s way of life and personality, you can separate yourself from her and notice your voice as opposed to hers.
Some tactics in working with your Inner Critic:
If your Inner Critic is full of “should’s” and is driven towards perfectionism (as mine sometimes is!), try to remember that the drive for perfectionism keeps us stuck and away from our goals. Recovery (and life) is messy and certainly doesn’t fit into neat little boxes. I like the saying that “Perfect is the enemy of beginning.”
Finally, ask your Inner Critic two important questions:
I notice that sometimes the drive under the critic is actually desiring to help us in some way. For example, my critic’s drive for perfectionism is actually her way of trying to help me find whatever I’m looking for to cultivate inner peace. When I am able to notice that, I can reframe the voice, change the words, and funnel that energy into self-care activities.
After you’ve tried this exercise for yourself, feel free to leave a comment about how this was for you or anything you discovered about your inner critic. Has your relationship with her changed? In doing this, we can connect with, utilize, and befriend all parts of ourselves and not feel like we need to “banish” any of them — even our Inner Critic.
I’m invested in my first online writing course with renowned Denver writing, creativity coach and mentor Cynthia Morris. Her business, Original Impulse helps writers just like me find their “writing juju”. This is the first week of the course “Make Writing a Happy Habit” and I was struck today by Cynthia’s coaching question: “How can you be more honest about your relationship with time?”. She asked us to list our five top priorities and denote how they take up our time every day (along with other things that take up time but aren’t top priorities). Here’s a sneak peek as to how I answered this question:
” I think that I try to set too high of expectations for my time. I also allow myself to get distracted easily by technology, animals, noises, the internet. I think that if I scaled back what I expect of myself every day, then I would be able to feel more productive with my time. This also goes the other way: if I don’t have a lot planned that day, I’d like to enjoy my free time instead of feel like I “should be doing something”, as commonly occurs. I would describe my relationship with time as circumstantial. I think it’s common to feel that time speeds up when I am enjoying it (ie: weekends), and it slows down on days where it feels like I am bogged down in work or when I am bored. Unstructured time has felt exceptionally anxious at times in my life and it has typically been something that I avoid. “
I wanted to pose to you this same question. In my work with people recovering from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, I often process with clients this very same issue:
Sometimes we uncover deeper roadblocks to scheduling time; perhaps over-scheduling one’s day can also be a way to avoid being alone with thoughts or emotions. Often, we forget or neglect to schedule in time for daily self care. Don’t allow a day to go by without doing some form of self care, and make this a priority — a minimum of 15 minutes a day! What do you do that gives you joy?
Signing up for this writing workshop was a form of self-care for me personally, as well as productive for my business and my writing goals.
I came across another great blog post about self care and self-love today. Tara Sophia Mohr writes on her blog wise living about how to actually foster and develop self-love in tangible steps. Sometimes this is easier said than done, as Tara writes: “How we feel about ourselves is like the color of our inner skies. If we could just change the color to a prettier one, we would.” Check out her post to learn how to make self-love a daily practice in your life.
How can you be more honest about your relationship with time? And how can you approach that relationship to help you deepen self-love? I’d love your comments and feedback!
I’m very excited to be selected and featured on the Inaugural Private Practice From the Inside Out Blog Carnival! Private Practice From the Inside Out (PPIO) is a blog and professional resource center created in 2003 by Tamara Suttle, M.Ed, LPC, and is “designed to help [therapists in private practice] cultivate an openness to new and different ways of developing your practice into a vibrant story of possibilities”. She has been an invaluable resource to me as I build and nurture my own private practice and I encourage you to sign up for her weekly blog posts of you are thinking of starting your own practice!
The theme for this blog carnival was “Creative Responses in Building a Private Practice”. Below you will find my reflections on tending to my hungry practice and “feeding” its needs. Please note the links at the end of the article to posts by my colleagues who were also featured in the blog carnival. I’m so grateful to be among such talented, creative, and dedicated colleagues.
The day I founded my private practice, Kate Daigle Counseling, I breathed life into a dream I’ve always held. Today, more than two years later, my practice can breathe on its own, as I continue to tend to its hunger, its fullness, its voice, its energy.
I have imagined my journey to developing my private practice as akin to nourishing a living being. My practice grows; my practice breathes; my practice slows its steps and stops for reflection. I find I can best support my practice by not only becoming informed in business-building skills, networking opportunities and clinical best practices, but by also approaching my practice as a creative and unique entity whose needs are always evolving. By relating to my practice in this way, I am also able to tune into my own needs in my personal, clinical, and professional life and notice where I am starved, where I am satisfied, where I am growing my branches to connect with others.
Developing a successful private practice involves embodying multiple roles, some of which might feel out-of-sync with our clinical therapist training. Therapists, myself included, can feel uncomfortable standing up for the financial needs of their practices and shy away from the business side of this career. Networking with large groups of other professionals might feel intimidating to a therapist who thrives in small one-on-one environments. At times, the work involved in this journey can feel exhausting and overwhelming and might dry up our internal resources. When this occurs, I try to tune into what my practice is asking for. As I use body-centered techniques in my work with clients to try to heal the mind-body connection, I similarly need to support my practice and myself in the healthiest and most authentic way so that my business can grow deep roots and I can maintain energy to breathe into it.
What do living things need? How do trees grow deep and sustainable roots so that they may provide clean air and shade to those in need? How can I tend to my practice so that I can continue to offer support to clients and take care of my own personal needs, allowing me to be as present, open, and connected as possible?
Wearing my “new” therapist shoes – I am of the mindset that I will always be learning and growing throughout my career – I have settled with a few observations as to how I can support the authentic, creative, and organic growth of my private practice.
By approaching my private practice as a living, breathing being who has needs and hungers, its heartbeat enables me to offer compassion and space for it to grow. In this way, I can creatively plan ahead for how my practice might look as it matures over the years, and how I can continue nurture this meaningful dream.
Don’t forget to continue your ride at the PPIO Blog Carnival! Other informative and interesting submissions include:
Please feel free to comment on my post and any of these unique posts and begin a discussion about your own creative responses to building a private practice!
As we welcomed the arrival of autumn on September 22nd, we opened a new chapter of crisp fall air, changing colors, brisk mornings, and harvest dinners. This is what fall is all about and for many, it brings an inner comfort and a desire to snuggle under the blankets with a big cup of hot tea. What else does autumn represent? As each season passes, I am always mindful of the gifts from the outgoing season and the promises of the one yet to come. As nature cycles through her natural patterns, humans and all animals alike take notice of this change.
Change is embraced by some and feared by others. When one is in recovery from an eating disorder such as bulimia, binge eating, anorexia, or any other type of disordered eating, change can bring overwhelming anxiety as it suggests a shift in an all-too-familiar routine. I often sit with clients and hold space for them to share these anxieties, excitements, worries, and anticipations of upcoming changes in their lives. I like to remember that with every change comes a loss as well as a new birth. Moving into a new home is a significant change in someone’s life, bringing new things to adjust to, new neighbors, new routines. Going back to school similarly offers some “unknowns”, some uncertainties of what is yet to come which might feel unsettling for some. A birth of a new child is a huge shift in a family, as the child is welcomed into the fold and the parents adjust to new responsibilities, expectations, and roles.
If you feel stuck in a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging, negative self talk that devastates your self-esteem, or any other type of harmful behavior, you might be ready to make a change in your life. Clients bring with them this hope for change, for a life without self-destructive behaviors or thoughts, and with a hope for accepting and loving themselves. They can also admit to some fears about what they might have to “give up” or “confront” when making this change. This is completely normal! Just as fall eventually turns into winter, a time of hibernation and reflection, change is inevitable — and it can feel simple to slip into a mindset of “dreading” or “avoiding” change.
I try to remind my clients (and myself, if I find myself getting stuck), that winter has its own gifts to offer and that spring will come again. While some may see winter as a time of cold and darkness, you also might approach winter as a time of rejuvenation, slowing down, resting, and preparing for the birth of spring. A new routine, a different way of approaching and caring for yourself, trying to accept your feelings instead of push them away — these all represent change in our lives. And instead of focusing on what is wrong about them, perhaps we could ask ourselves to notice the benefits of this change and remind ourselves that a re-birth is yet to come, whatever that looks like for each of us.
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself about your relationship to change in your life:
– What am I losing in this change, and how can I offer myself kindness and compassion around this?
– What am I gaining with this change in terms of growth, healing, and self-care?
– How can I be mindful about this change, and check in with myself daily around my feelings about it and try to remind myself of the gifts of the present moment?
Don’t forget to turn your attention inward and notice your emotions around this transition. New beginnings, like autumn or any new beginning in your life, might bring up unresolved feelings or issues from previous life cycles. Perhaps autumn reminds you of a friendship that was lost last autumn which you haven’t allowed yourself to feel in some time. Maybe autumn brings the birthday of a child and each year you are reminded of the pure joy you felt the day he or she was born.
allow yourself to feel. Journal about what you feel, draw what you feel, sing what you feel, dance what you feel. There are no “good” or “bad” feelings, and like a wave in the ocean, each feeling will eventually ride out.
Nature allows us endless opportunities for healing, re-birth, renewal, and getting back in touch with ourselves. How are you going to embrace this new season in your life?
I’ve talked to a fair share of people — those who have been to counseling before and those who have never set foot in a therapist’s office — who break into a cold sweat when thinking about talking with a therapist. I have been in the client’s chair myself, and my experiences in counseling deeply inspired me to want to help others by becoming a therapist. I believe in the power of therapeutic change and benefit and I’ve also “been there” and empathize with how daunting it might seem to enact change in one’s life.
Anxiety and nervousness can precede a therapy appointment. They can cause you to drive around the block a few times before finally parking and walking into the office. I know that sometimes it can feel worse after the appointment, instead of better. I know that discomfort might be part of the protocol. I understand that talking about personal matters can feel foreign, vulnerable, and risky.
So why do it?? Because change can happen. Steps can be taken, with the trust and security of a therapeutic relationship, to achieve personal goals that bring peace, happiness, and clarity to one’s life. This is absolutely possible. But, you may wonder, what do I have to risk in order to achieve that change? These common fears may keep some folks from calling a therapist and today I wanted to “normalize” those fears — and talk about what to do to overcome them. Because everyone deserves a fair shot at a balanced and healthy life.
In working with clients in recovery from eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating disorder, I often encounter some anxiety around change. Through my own recovery from an eating disorder, I went through various stages of change and different levels of readiness for change. I discovered that I needed to follow my own path, and it may take me up hills and down valleys; most significantly I found out that therapy, while terrifying at times, helped me make the changes that got me to the place I am today — healthy and fully in recovery!
Here are three of the biggest fears that those with an eating disorder who are contemplating therapy may experience. These can also be widened to anyone who is approaching the decision to pursue therapy:
Three Big Fears About Going to Therapy – and how to conquer them:
1.) My therapist is going to force me to change. This is not only a fear about therapy, but also a misconception. A therapist will never (should never) force someone to change. We cannot. It is your life and you make your own choices. Sometimes when health issues are highly concerning, a client may enter a treatment center where he/she must follow certain rules. These rules are for the therapeutic benefit of the client, and while the rules may limit behaviors that are self-destructive, it is ultimately up to the client to open his/herself up to changing thoughts, behaviors, and ways of relating to self and others. If you enter therapy, you are in charge. This isn’t to say that your therapist is not going to challenge some things you do or say, but confrontation is a therapeutic tool that is also for the good of the client. Therapists point out what we sometimes cannot admit to ourselves.
2.) If I open up and am honest, my therapist is going to judge me. Honesty is one of the biggest risks in therapy — because being honest makes us vulnerable, possibly subject to judgment. Honesty is also a vehicle of change, as it allows us to connect with how we truly feel and explore those feelings. A trusting, solid, connected therapeutic relationship can foster a healing and safe space for honesty and this is one of the cornerstones of therapy. A therapist’s job is to be a non-judgemental and non-biased professional whom you can feel comfortable talking with about personal and sometimes painful subjects. If you have concerns about judgment in the therapy room, this is certainly a topic that should be discussed.
3.) If I go to therapy, I will have to keep going for the rest of my life. Sometimes people are afraid of “opening a can of worms”, and feel it’s safer to keep the genie in the bottle. I can relate to this. When I share some of my personal therapy experiences with clients, they sometimes ask me how long it took me in therapy to feel healthy and stable enough to go out on my own. As everyone’s path is different, the length of therapy might be conditional based on each person’s needs and goals. For some, a few sessions might alleviate some presenting symptoms. For others, a few weeks, or months. In the initial few sessions, I go over goals with my clients and we keep track of how progress is going as we move on. The goal of therapy is to help you find tools and strengths that you can utilize whenever you need them, and to empower you to know that you can walk on your own two feet. So, while I empathize with the fear of “being in therapy forever”, this is not ultimately healthy, and an experienced therapist should continue the conversation with you about how you are feeling as therapy moves forward.
Do you relate to any of these common therapy worries? Entering into therapy is an investment in yourself — your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. To find balance and health, this may involve talking about uncomfortable things and confronting destructive coping mechanisms. As someone who has gone through therapy and sometimes still checks in with my therapist, I can attest to the benefits of this process. You are worth the investment!
If you or anyone you know is thinking about “dipping your toe” into therapy, please contact me and I’d be happy to tell you more about the process and what to expect: 720-340-1443 or email@example.com.
It’s almost Labor Day weekend — the symbolic “end of summer” and a time to rest and rejuvenate before the start of autumn. With all of the time we spend working, don’t we deserve a little break? Then why is it that so many people have a hard time taking the whole three days to have fun? Because we have a hard time saying “no” and letting go.
I am certainly guilty of this from time to time and have to mindfully remind myself that time off allows my brain to rest, my body to heal, my emotions to breathe, and my stress to decrease. Only when I turn “off” my work brain and give myself a vacation can I assess what I need in order to be a healthy and balanced psychotherapist and human being.
Are you like me and have a hard time leaving work at work? Instead of “laboring” this Labor Day weekend, why not try something radically different? And if you work in an industry that requires you to work this weekend, there are still ways to relax and find some personal time for yourself. Because you deserve it.
Creating boundaries between our personal and professional lives, no matter what your profession, helps us define our values, our purpose, our goals, and allows us to be more present with ourselves and with others.
Here are Five Tips to Mindfully Let Work Stay in the Office and To Allow Yourself to ENJOY!:
1.) Imagine it’s Friday and you are waiting to get off work for the weekend — you want to enjoy this time off, but know there’s going to be so much to come back to on Tuesday and this anxiety is already looming over your head. What to do? Make a list. Write down everything you have to get done next week and allocate time in the coming week for each task. If it still feels like too much, prioritize tasks in order of immediacy and importance, and focus on setting aside space for those high on the list. Email this list to yourself. If you have your emails linked and see work and personal emails together (really handy but impedes on personal boundaries!), turn off your work email until Monday night…or even until Tuesday. You will have a plan for how to proceed and can get started while still feeling organized.
2.) Try doing a visualization. Imagine your office space. See yourself there, doing your daily work tasks. Notice what feelings you are having: anxiety? boredom? frustration? Notice where you feel these in your body. Now visualize yourself closing the drawers in your desk. Shutting down your computer. Lowering the blinds. See yourself walking out the door and locking your office behind you. Stand in the hallway for a moment and focus on this physical boundary between you and your office. Get a clear picture in your mind of this separation. Mindfully pay attention to yourself walking out the door and getting into your car/bike/bus. Say to yourself a mantra, something to the effects of: “Work stays at work, I deserve this space to breathe, relax, and play”. Repeat this as many times as necessary.
3.) Spend some time reflecting on who you are outside of work. Work is one domain in your life (for more info on defining values in domains of your life, read about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). What are the other domains of your life? Home? Spirituality? Recreation? Relationships/Roles? Passions? What gives you energy? What activity or person makes you feel great about yourself? Where do you go to renew and rest? Spend the weekend following these other parts of you and giving them attention and time. Being a whole, balanced person helps us to be proficient and happy in all areas of our lives. Allowing yourself to not work helps you to define what else is just as valuable (or more so) than work is…and helps you be better at your job, too.
4.) If you have to work this weekend, focus on planning for some time to give to yourself. Even if your schedule is hectic and demanding, carving out a few hours to spend reading, walking in the park, or going to a local festival, can be therapeutic as well. Small doses of mindful and peaceful activity can help your stress levels to decrease and knowing that you have that time to look forward to can propel you through the work hours.
5.) Let go. I know — easier said than done! But really, what is the use of worrying/fretting about work for three days where there is nothing you can do about it? Sure, I guess you could get caught up on work or get ahead of work during this holiday, but there won’t be anyone to email or discuss work ideas with because they will be on holiday too (or should be!). Remember that you can get it done later and that this time, this present moment, is valuable. Allow yourself to be present. Work will always be there, but the gift of a long weekend won’t!
Note: if you feel stressed about letting go, be gentle with yourself. Your career may be very valuable to you and an integral part of who you are. The feelings you experience are very normal and won’t necessarily go away. Accept them. Live through them. You can STILL enjoy your weekend and not allow those feelings to impede on your fun!
Do any of these tips sound like something you’d like to try to create some boundaries between work and home life? I’d love to hear how it goes for you and how you practiced being mindful this Labor Day weekend. Have a great weekend!!