Self-care through maintaining balance

Today, my day went something like this:

‘Alarm clock, rush, rush, traffic jam, work, work, work, and more work, traffic jam, work, work, work, drive, drive, home, more work to do.’ Sound familiar? The day was so busy that I just wanted to shout, “Stop! Just stop and take a break!”

I know, I know. That is just how your day went too, right? Take a minute with me, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Any better yet?

Life can be so chaotic, so busy, and so full of activity that we often forget how important it is to take care of ourselves. We get so caught up with all of the things that we have to do that we don’t even notice how unbalanced our lives have become. Our society is so fast paced that it is hard for many people to catch their breaths – me included. It is at this time that I stop to reflect on some wise words I have recently read:

“Care must be taken not to be driven in one’s career to the extent that everything else loses value and accordingly does not receive the attention it should.” – Dr. Robert Wicks, in The Resilient Clinician.

I received Dr. Wicks’ book as a gift from the Loyola University Pastoral Counseling Department during a free ‘self-care’ workshop. One of my fellow blog writers has put together an excellent post describing the events of the day. Many thanks JoAnn! To read about our day of self-care, click here.

The Resilient Clinician offers helping professionals practical advice for avoiding burnout through working to maintain balance. Although the text is designed for those working in the mental health profession, the words of wisdom contained in the book are useful for anyone who (like me) is feeling a bit overwhelmed by the pressures life has to offer. Dr. Wicks goes in depth into many different topics from recognizing signs of burn out to developing strategies for self-care. I highly recommend reading the text whether you are a clinician or are simply feeling the physical and psychological effects of stress.

In Appendix E, Dr. Wicks challenges the reader to check balance in the following areas:

  1. Stimulation and quiet
  2. Reflection and action
  3. Work and leisure
  4. Self-care and care of others
  5. Self-improvement and patience
  6. Future aspirations and present positive realities
  7. Involvement and detachment

Today, I am going to just pick one off the list. I’ll start with number 1 simply because I am too tired to be all that original at the moment. I have had plenty of stimulation today. When I leave all of you, I am going to take 15 minutes of silence and just listen to the quiet.

Why don’t you join me? Your brain will thank you for it.

From teacher to counselor

I have always been the type of person that wants to better myself.  I thought my undergraduate degree in Theology would take me very far in life.   What it did in fact, was, allow me to see how much more education I needed to succeed.  Until recently, I had been looking for a graduate program that would incorporate my interest in Theology with helping people. I knew that online education was not really for me, I prefer to meet people face-to-face and have conversations in real life rather than in some small square on my monitor.  Then, at the mall, I saw an ad for Loyola University’s graduate degree program in Pastoral Counseling and how to attend an information session. The information I received made me think and reflect on my life’s decisions. It was a perfect fit for me, the synthesis of spirituality and counseling. As a teacher, I often find myself counseling students to make good choices.  This degree would not only allow me to help students, but, adults as well.

I have learned so much since starting my first year of the MS program for Pastoral Counseling. In addition to the overall learning experience, the professors are what really make the classes come alive. Dr. Jill Snodgrass, Ph.D. enriched the introduction to pastoral counseling class by allowing us to write weekly reflections on our service-learning experiences. These allowed us to integrate our classroom learning with our volunteer experiences and is the a prime example of a Jesuit education—the ability to make what you are learning come alive! Even after the semester has come to a close, I still volunteer at the organization because of the wonderful experience I had there.

One of the memorable moments I remember in counseling theory class with Dr. Sharon Cheston, Ed.D.  was when she showed us an actual Counselor/client experience with one of our classmates.  Being in the room, you can feel the peace she brings to the situation.  Another hallmark of a Jesuit education: the opportunity to take what you are learning and see it first-hand in practice. In addition to great educators, there are many resources made available to help guide and aid the graduate student. From financial aid to writing workshops (APA) Loyola has made provisions for the student to succeed completely.  If you are the type of person that likes to help others and you have an open heart and mind, then, this program of study is for you!  Click here to begin your journey.