A Little Trick
I love my job and the privilege I have to help others speak. But the downside of any helping profession is the fatigue. How do you give so much to each client every hour (in my case) for 8 hours without feeling completely drained by the end of the day- or heck, even by midday? So I ran an experiment on myself.
Every time I started feeling like I was slowly draining out I would do something, anything, to wake myself up. Sometimes this was a little shake of my whole body, sometimes this was doing rag doll pose, and sometimes it was making an effort to speak to one of my coworkers about something light and funny. And sometimes, on the days it was really hard to shake off the fatigue, I would imagine a switch. Once I flipped the switch on I had to convince myself that I felt joy. Not happiness- but joy.
The difference is this: joy is what you feel deep in your bones. It’s the kind of bubbling up feeling that you almost can’t describe. It’s how you feel after seeing a really good movie, or that first sip of coffee in the morning and knowing you made it perfect. It fills your whole body and you’re no longer a leaky bucket that is slowly draining out.
This is not always easy. In fact, it rarely is. But I’d rather convince myself of joy than continue to wallow in the fatigue that is far too easy to feel after pouring into others all day.
And one more thing, it’s important to do these exercises if your bucket is not completely empty or getting dangerously close. If we, those in helping professions but in other careers too, work from an empty bucket we are only hurting those around us and not providing superior services. Ain’t no one wants to pay for that! In this case, please take a mental health day! I recommend once a quarter? Let yourself refill and rediscover why you love this job and then practice these exercises from a fuller bucket. This is hard to accept in our fast-paced Type A world we live in but I’ve realized more and more how important it is.
These are just some things I’ve picked up in my experiences but I’d love to carry around a bundle of exercises/activities that help get myself out of a funk when it hits. So what are yours?