Acknowledging Burnout and Learning to Restart the Flame

african-american- woman gazingI’m feeling burned out…I have said yes to too many things, I have too much on my plate, I have some tough things going on in my personal life and the result is me feeling burned out. One of the worst parts of this is that it’s negatively impacting my work. I love being a therapist; sitting with people, helping them to process their emotions and experiences, bearing witness to their pain, and talking through strategies to help them improve their lives. And yet, in this space of burnout I feel less empathic and patient with my clients who are most challenging. My ability to take a step back and see what is happening emotionally in sessions has been diminished. I feel guilty and embarrassed by these shortcomings. I feel badly that I may not be offering my clients the best support possible.

Part of my experience of stress and burnout is situational. I work at a university that is on a quarter system and this is the time of the quarter when we are busy and have a lot to fit in before the academic year ends. Part of this is because of my own difficulty saying no to things and my general excitement related to taking on new things. I am realizing that I need to be more strategic about what I say yes to and that I cannot sign on to everything that looks good and comes my way.

I imagine that most of you may have experienced burnout or have felt overwhelmed at one point or another, so I’m opening up and writing this post for my own growth and healing and in the hopes that it helps you too. The following is what I’m doing to get myself out of this space. Continue reading “Acknowledging Burnout and Learning to Restart the Flame”

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Freeing Yourself from the Trap of Trying to Do it All

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I started to feel overwhelmed again last Tuesday morning. My to do list felt too long and the hours to get things done felt too short. I needed time to rest but felt stuck in the commitments I had already made. The combination of needing a break from work and managing a few projects outside of work was pushing my ideal balance of busyness too far. I have always tended to do too much. However, over the last few years, I have made an effort to increase my time for rest and self-care, to get comfortable spending time relaxing and not doing anything productive. Though I’ve gotten better at cutting back when I start to feel overwhelmed and saying no to things that I don’t have time for, I still struggle with these things and am making efforts to grow in this area.

It is essential for us as Black women to take a hard look at the ways we are complicit in wearing ourselves down. The stress we hold from always carrying a heavy load and taking on too much contributes to the negative health outcomes that we see among Black women. Higher rates of mortality from breast cancer and heart disease and higher rates of other physical illnesses. We also know that stress is a trigger for mental illness. There are a myriad of societal factors outside of our control that negatively impact our health and well being and it’s important that we take responsibility for the things we can control like how much we do.

There are a number of things the cause us to do too much and I’m highlighting them in this post. I encourage you to take some time to reflect honestly on the things that cause you to do too much in your life. To think about the things that prevent you from creating space for the rest and care that you need. Continue reading “Freeing Yourself from the Trap of Trying to Do it All”

In Praise of Women

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Women. Women have always been a driving force in this world. Embodying the qualities of strength and gentleness simultaneously. Women have served as protectors and providers since the beginning of time. Figuring out ways to make something out of nothing, to move the needle forward in the midst of oppression. Women have kept faith and hope going. Have sung songs and made balms to heal souls and bodies. Women have fed and clothed us. Pushed us to be be better. Women have been at the core all along.

In honor of International Women’s Day, let us remember all that women have done. Let go of the patriarchal narratives that women are weak, not smart enough, not good enough. As we continue to push the world forward and fight for the equality of all women (cis and trans) let us also remember how much we have already done. Let’s celebrate ourselves and our legacies. Let’s celebrate our known and unknown heroines. Let us bask in the glory of womanhood.

As we work to bring about change in this world let us remember the guidance of bell hooks: that we don’t just want to move up in existing patriarchal systems that oppress people of color and those who are not cis and straight. Let us not be constrained by the limited imaginations of men who created structures that were meant to exclude us. Let us work to change the system itself. Imagining something new. Imagining systems that allow us to be our full selves. Systems that support our well being and mental health and embrace all that we bring. Systems that enable us to fully embody our womanhood.

Where will you stand at times of Challenge & Controversy?

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We are in the midst of trying times. There are so many things and people that are under attack right now: Muslims, undocumented immigrants, women’s rights, the environment, etc. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. Unsure of what to do to continue to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and communities that we care about. Now is a time when it is essential that we know what our values are; when we know what matters and we do what matters. When I talk about values in this context I’m referring to things that serve as guides for ongoing action. Values are like a compass that help you to know in which direction you would like to move forward and enable you to determine if you have gotten off track. Our values can help us achieve our goals but are separate from them. Engaging in our values may feel uncomfortable at times and is certainly not always easy but when our behavior is consistently aligned with what matters to us, our lives are enriched.  Continue reading “Where will you stand at times of Challenge & Controversy?”

New Year New You: How to make Lasting Change

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As the new year begins most of us feel hopeful that this year will be different, that we will finally meet the goals we set for ourselves, that we will fulfill our new years resolutions instead of forgetting about them halfway through February. However, fantasizing about what we hope will happen over the course of the year is only a first step. If we stop with the fantasy it is likely that we will find ourselves disappointed when we don’t meet our goals. In this post, I highlight the steps that are necessary to make real change so that you can ensure your new years resolutions come to fruition this year.

Move beyond the fantasy 

Fantasies about the future are alluring, they pull us into a feeling of euphoria as we imagine how wonderful the future will be. These fantasies can be inspiring and motivating and if we stay in them too long  it is easy to get stuck and not see progress. After you spend time thinking about what you want to see for yourself over the next year, it is important to move beyond the fantasy and begin the work of achieving the goals you have set for yourself. I encourage you to try to enjoy the process of achieving your goals in order to sustain the changes you are making so you aren’t just waiting to get to the finish line.  Continue reading “New Year New You: How to make Lasting Change”

Learning from Prince: Live Boldly & Courageously

prince_at_coachellaPrince died yesterday and I am shocked and saddened along with the rest of the world. It is impossible to adequately describe Prince using words. He is a musical genius, he is an icon, he is bold, he is outspoken, he is mysterious, he lived courageously. As heartfelt reflections on the impact that Prince had on so many people’s lives are shared and our collective mourning begins, my attention is drawn to the lessons that we can learn from the inspiring way that Prince lived. My hope is that in addition to honoring him with memories and celebrating his music, we will also honor Prince by living boldly and courageously just as he did. Below are quotes from Prince and lessons from him that we can apply to our own lives. Continue reading “Learning from Prince: Live Boldly & Courageously”