Finding Balance Between Being at Home, Thanksgiving Holiday, and Your Therapy Practice
The holiday season is always a lot to take, but this year, like everything else in 2020, the pandemic has turned our traditional holiday plans entirely upside down. As if we hadn’t already been through enough, half of Americans think Thanksgiving will be twice as stressful this year because of COVID-19.
Spending time with family and friends has never been so needed yet so complicated, and trying to make any holiday plans instantly elicits a new level of stress. With social distancing orders in place, old traditions might have to change this year, which most likely results in extra stress and even more planning than we are accustomed to.
The biggest travel holiday of the year has taken on new dimensions with the emergence of COVID-19. How do you safely get from Point A to Point B these days? Does the state you’re traveling to require you to quarantine for two weeks on arrival? Does your home state expect you to quarantine for two weeks when you return? How many generations of the family can you safely invite?
Between the new increased stress of traveling during a pandemic and the usual strain of keeping up with your workload throughout the holidays, it’s going to be more challenging than usual to balance your overall safety, mental health, and your private practice.
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Common problems therapists face that can make the holiday season more difficult:
Time Management Challenges
Therapists especially have an over-full calendar and a longer to-do list than ever before, and this is only going to increase as we get closer to the holiday season. Figuring out how to balance increased personal demands with increased client needs can be a challenge.
Lack of Personal Time
When you take off for the holidays, you have even less time to meet the seasonal jump in your work demands, which often leads to working overtime in the weeks leading up to holidays.
Limited Free Time
Many therapists have trouble being 100% “off” from work. Some therapy jobs, especially private practice, require therapists to be on call in case of a crisis, even when you are technically taking time off. Even when you love your job, being on-call makes time off seem less free and makes it harder to relax and recharge.
Therapists always have to cope with other peoples’ stress, but many therapists start to feel stretched thinner than usual during the holidays. That can make our jobs a little more challenging this time of year because you’re absorbing client stress at a more stressful time in your own lives.
The holiday season is already stressful on its own, but with the onset of COVID, you now have to start planning your holiday weeks. Since many transitions are changing, this could put extra stress on your day to day life leading up to Thanksgiving.
Despite increased stress and overfull schedules, therapists have to continue to plug away throughout the holiday season.
Here are some strategies you can use to get through it:
Follow Your Own Advice
As a mental health professional, you likely have plenty of good things to say about self-care, but do you take your own advice?
You know how stress can insert itself into your holiday dynamics. Luckily, you also have the training to understand how to cope with your life stressors, but are you properly utilizing your knowledge and using it to ease your stress?
It might be helpful to try using some of the same strategies you use to guide your clients to reduce some of your own anxiety as well.
Take Some Time Off
While it’s nice to take unscheduled client calls as you can, make sure you also remember to nurture your mental health at the same time. Taking time off is vital when it comes to helping you recharge and preventing therapist burnout.
Healthcare professionals face high rates of burnout and compassion fatigue, so it’s essential to take a vacation, at least occasionally. Taking time off now and then helps you support your emotional well-being and continue to provide the highest level of care to your clients as well.
Let Others Help
With so much that goes into keeping a therapy practice up and running, and with some much going into planning a successful holiday, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to ask for help.
There are tons of resources available to help you succeed in your business and holiday planning. Delegating tasks out to employees, technology, or even family members can save tons of time.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
Hiring a virtual assistant for your private practice is one of the quickest ways to reclaim time in your schedule. Virtual assistants (or VAs) are completely remote administrative assistants, many of whom even specialize in helping mental health clinicians. A VA can help complete all of the crucial tasks in your day. They can help keep you on top of all the extra work that goes into the holiday season and help you prepare for and catch up after any time off.
If you don’t have the resources to hire a full-time Virtual Assistant, there are options available that use various pricing structures depending on your specific needs. For example, Productive Therapist offers monthly packages that include as little as 10 hours of VA service a month – and they’ll roll over any unused minutes at the end of the month!
Hire Someone to Build & Maintain Your Website
For those in the mental health field, a website can often appear more of a burden than a fundamental marketing tool. Having a website can seem overwhelming, and creating one on your own can be extremely challenging, not to mention the ongoing up-keep a good website needs to stay relevant.
While these concerns are legitimate, they are nothing an experienced web developer who is intimately familiar with the mental health industry can’t handle. Hiring someone to develop and maintain your website can help push your online business in the right direction and save you a lot of time in the long run.
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Consult With Your Colleagues
In times of stress, it can help to have someone else to talk with and bounce new ideas off of. No one understands the life of a therapist quite like another therapist.
Having professional relationships can allow you to check on one another, hold each other accountable for proper self-care, and help support each other through difficult and busy times.
Don’t be too hard on yourself this holiday season, and remember to make time to destress, just like you would tell your clients to do. With all of the craziness between planning, work, and the pandemic, make sure that you create time to recharge and make sure you’ve created enough time for you to enjoy some delicious food.
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