The demands of my master’s program, internship, working on my book, and being a single mom kind of caught up with me. I’m not sure the magnitude yet of the ramifications of my stress and exhaustion, but the past few weeks have been testing my limits physically, emotionally and intellectually.
Although I’ve been unable to take any kind of break and have been working seven days a week since the term began, I’m grateful to be having this kind of experience. I know my workload and lack of a break isn’t forever, and there will be an end to the madness. I also know how worth all of this is to me.
These past few weeks, I think it’s been beneficial to experience this kind of stress and actually live with the feelings and ramifications of what happens when we’re stretched to the limits. In my opinion, I think a lot of people are living lives where they feel tremendous amounts of stress, and they do not know how to manage it. I had to really work on self-care and practicing mindfulness in order to manage everything that happened in my academic, internship and personal life. I believe my experience will assist me with clients moving forward, and especially adults I will treat in the future.
Last week, I was also introduced to Acceptance Commitment Therapy, which is CBT based, only takes it a step further by incorporating a mind/body connection. This concept helped me deal with the stress I was under, and it was inspiring. My supervisor advised me to look into it, as I have a client suffering from anxiety and depression. After I read up on it, and watched a few of Dr. Russ Harris’ U Tube videos I was impressed, and excited to learn more. He explains anxiety and depression very simply, which is great when working with adolescents population, or adults who are very new to therapy. ACT also incorporates the theory behind living a goal-oriented life versus a value-oriented life. This is a phenomenal concept, and especially relevant for clients who are struggling with substance use issues. Changing one’s mindset in this way, is beneficial so they learn to enjoy the journey, not simply focus on the destination. I’m excited to pass this onto my clients, and I hope they will be just as inspired by it as I am.
I look forward to my week ahead, and I am prepared to have discussions with my clients about what’s happening in our country, if they need the space and time to freely express any concerns or thoughts. As a mental health professional, I feel it is important I allow sessions to be a place for clients to talk honestly and openly about their thoughts and fears, no matter what they are. I also hope to spread as much positive energy into the world as I can, while finding opportunities to assist people in coming together, in an effort to insure that good prevails.
Shari Brady is a counselor-in-training at PEER Services, Inc., an agency located in suburban Chicago, dedicated to the treatment and prevention of substance use disorders. She is also an award-winning author who has a passion for adolescents and the struggles they face. You can read more about her and her books at sharibrady.com.