We all live busy lives, full of stress, anxiety and regular doses of the unexpected. When we need guidance or support with life-stuff, we turn to our psychologists and mental health practitioners. But what do our psychologists do to take care of themselves and live aligned to their values when life gets nuts?
We asked five psychologists and counsellors from The Indigo Project about their go-to strategies to take care of themselves day-to-day and stay mindful and grounded when life gets overwhelming.
1. Switch off from work-mode.
“A warm shower after a day of work – I use it as a way to transition between work / home. I don’t rush through it, I take my time and am quite mindful with it, engaging all my senses. If I’ve had a particularly difficult day and stress is heightened, I will turn the bathroom light off and use a candle to light the bathroom and it truly transforms the whole experience.”
2. Check in with your body.
“Part of my daily practise is checking-in with my body, heart and mind, to gain a clearer awareness of my present state of being. From there, I often inquire into my own needs, which may be as simple as talking to myself kindly, slowing down, or giving myself a hug. On the topic of self-hugs (!) I find there’s nothing like a good, long self-hug when I need it. It releases the brain’s feel-good chemicals and reminds me of my own inner agency to comfort myself and tend to all parts of me with compassion and love.”
3. Make empowered choices.
“When I am experiencing uncomfortable, challenging, distressing or unwanted situations/thoughts/emotions/sensations, I think back to the Choice Point model in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT).
At these junctures, I know I can let myself become hooked and spiral into making an away move (a decision that gives me some short-term relief but doesn’t benefit me in the long run, e.g. procrastinating) or making a towards move (a decision that is more mindful, self-validating and values-directed that will get me closer to a rich and meaningful life, e.g. committing to working on an important task).
The Choice Point allows me to live more consciously and purposefully rather than feeling like I am out of control and things are just happening to me due to my automatic, habitual behaviours.”
You can watch the video below to learn more about the Choice Point models…
4. Be nice to yourself.
“At the risk of sounding cliche, something I couldn’t live without is self-compassion. I’ve done all the tips and tools, but without self-compassion, not much changes. One tool I love is asking myself what I would say to a friend who was in a similar situation. This gives me perspective and enables me to meet my needs in a much kinder way.”
5. Take a breath.
“Breath work, always. I do breath work all throughout the day, breathe in to 4, hold for 2 and breathe out for 6. Feel the stomach expand as you breathe in and contract as you breathe out. So underrated and so important! It takes us out of that fight or flight and into rest and digest. Practice breathing when you’re calm, so that you remember to pull it out when you’re stressed!”