Shrinkcast Episode 14: Thrive Part 2 - Work As Play

In the second of this two-part series of the Shrinkcast, Heather and Phil discuss thriving in the workplace and considering work as play.

Phil has extensive experience in career counseling and advising. Check out some of the reviews of his work with students at Metro State University below. If you’re interested in talking with Phil about work and career, contact us.

Self-Care and the Pursuit of Wellness

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When I talk to others about what stress management looks like, there’s one word that is usually brought up in the conversation: self-care. This buzzword that people mention seems to be thrown around without anyone truly understanding what it means or looks like practically. I want to challenge myself and you to think of self-care as more than the temporary relief of a bubble bath, video game, movie or whatever else pop-culture defines it as. Rather than talking about self-care and stress management, let’s talk about what it might look like to pursue wellness which requires a deeper look into how we are doing holistically.

When looking at wellbeing, we can gauge how we’re doing by looking at five different parts of ourselves: social, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. As we look into what each of these mean, let’s think about how we’re doing in each of them right now.

 Social - the relational aspect: do we have meaningful connection with others throughout the day? Are we isolating ourselves or over exerting ourselves in our social commitments? How are we engaging with others?

Emotional – our emotional state: are we in tune with both our positive and negative emotions? Are we denying ourselves from experiencing both the highs and lows of our life? Or are we being consumed and overwhelmed by either one of them?

Physical – our bodies: are our bodies telling us we need more or less of something? Perhaps we are a little tired and hungry so we grab extra caffeine and easy-to-reach snacks that fuel us temporarily. Are we noticing that our bodies need stretches and movements after sitting all day? Or maybe our bodies needing rest because we haven’t stopped moving. 

Mental – our thoughts: are our thoughts racing and preoccupied with something? Are we avoiding making a decision or not wanting to think about a particular event?

Spiritual – our core self: are we honoring who we are? Regardless of faith or spiritual practices, we are valuable individuals. So, are we connecting and being kind to ourselves?

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 So, how do we move towards our well self? Think about what it looks like when we’re doing well in each of these areas. For example, are we feeling connected to others when we eat meals with co-workers or are we needing a one-on-one coffee run with a close friend? Are we melancholic and need to practice gratitude or do we need to let our emotions run free for 10 minutes to be able to refocus on our responsibilities? Do we need to get 6 hours or 8 hours of sleep to feel restful? Do we need to write a to-do list to organize our thoughts or do we need to practice containment to not bring our work stress home? Do we need to rediscover what our preferences are or do we need to spend time reconnecting with our faith beliefs?

 There are more questions we can ask ourselves to prompt how we’re doing in each of these areas.  Regardless of what the questions are, are we pausing regularly to assess how we’re doing? The more frequently we’re able to gauge how we’re doing, the more sensitive we become when we stray from our well self. As we incorporate these steps into our lives and practice them regularly, we’ll be able to advocate for our needs and be kind to ourselves.

About the Author:

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Alex Song, RP, Apprentice, is pursuing an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Denver Seminary. Alex is passionate about helping people become their most authentic and true selves. She loves helping people navigate their life pursuits, identity formation, and career aspirations. She feels honored to walk alongside clients as they share their story with her, inviting her into that sacred space. She desires her clients to live life purposefully and well through evaluating their physical, spiritual, mental, social, and emotional health. As clients navigate meaning making, she works with clients to equip them with the tools to live their best life. Alex desires to connect with the Asian population to help them advocate for their voices as they pursue what wellness looks like. Alex is a Colorado native and enjoys exploring new coffee spots, watching movies, and catching up with friends.

Stress and the Body

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Have you ever noticed that your body aches, you’re more irritable than usual, or that you’re unusually tired? Maybe it’s a combination of all three. The “new” symptoms seem to be coming from nowhere, without any reason. You didn’t exert yourself particularly hard during your last workout, you’re getting a solid 6.5 hours of sleep, and work is going smoothly. So then, why are you experiencing them?

If you’re like me, you may recognize stress after your body is aware of it. If you’re like me, your body tries to warn you that you need to take care of yourself. If you’re like me, you push through it thinking that it’s nothing, until you’re forced to stop because your body refuses to go any further.

April is stress awareness month. Although I may know that I should be more mindful of my stress levels, I constantly find myself fighting the reality that I have a smaller capacity than I used to. For the past two years I have been battling an undiagnosed chronic illness that is accompanied with chronic fatigue and chronic pain. As such, I am more sensitive than ever to my new stress levels.

During my teens and early 20s, I thought I was invincible; I took on more projects and sleepless nights than was necessary. But now, nearly a decade later, I’m finding that my new limits and boundaries my body places on me, forces me to slow down. I can’t say that I have fully adjusted. Often times, I find myself running at the same pace I used to. But as a result, my body reminds me, with aches and pains, that I can’t sprint through life any longer.

The tension between sprinting and pausing in life is a real one I struggle with daily. I grapple with the reality that I need rest – I need physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social rest. There doesn’t seem to be a sweet spot between the two extremes, at least not one that I have found yet. It’s a new challenge that takes time to discover, try, fail, and progress.

With the change of seasons, we often associate spring with new beginnings and new hope. Having a fresh start to try once again, I’m told to slow down, rest, and take care of my body. With the start of spring, I want to challenge myself with looking at stress differently. Stress, and my body’s reaction to it, is a good thing. It’s a physical reminder of the limitations I face. And that’s okay. I’m human. I am finite and this reality puts the value of life into perspective. Despite the challenges I face, there is still a chance at having hope. There is a chance of finding rest. There is a chance at being healthy and having a healthy relationship with stress.

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I realize that you may not experience stress the same way I do. But how many times do you wake up during the week wishing you had a little more energy, a little more quiet time, or a little more rest? Battling stress and pursuing a healthy life does not have to be hard. I want to challenge myself and you with the idea that progress doesn’t always have to be drastic. No, progress also includes the small pauses and increases in awareness of self. Allowing grace in our lives for the reality that we are limited is one of the kindest postures we can have towards ourselves.

So, how can you pause today? What is your body telling you that it needs? What is your soul needing today? What’s one small adjustment to your schedule that would help you find rest? Let’s talk more about the practical steps after reflecting on our current state and stress practices. 

About the Author:

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Alex Song, RP, Apprentice, is pursuing an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Denver Seminary. Alex is passionate about helping people become their most authentic and true selves. She loves helping people navigate their life pursuits, identity formation, and career aspirations. She feels honored to walk alongside clients as they share their story with her, inviting her into that sacred space. She desires her clients to live life purposefully and well through evaluating their physical, spiritual, mental, social, and emotional health. As clients navigate meaning making, she works with clients to equip them with the tools to live their best life. Alex desires to connect with the Asian population to help them advocate for their voices as they pursue what wellness looks like. Alex is a Colorado native and enjoys exploring new coffee spots, watching movies, and catching up with friends.

Shrinkcast Episode 11: We Love Private Practices

If you are a private practice clinician wondering how you can grow your practice, give back, or engage with other mental health clinicians in your work, Khesed Wellness loves partnering with professionals like you. This week, we discuss the benefits of partnering with Khesed as a private practice clinician.

We currently have two openings for LPCC’s and are always seeking new site partnerships with clinicians in private practice. If you are interested in one of these openings or in donating office space, we invite you to contact us today! We look forward to hearing from you!

Shrinkcast Episode 10: Do I Need A Counselor?

How do you know if and when it is time to seek counseling? What gets in the way of doing so? We invite you to consider these questions and take some space to personally reflect on the question of if counseling may be a beneficial addition to your life, and how you may go about seeking it. If you’d like to know more about Khesed’s counselors, you can meet them here or contact us.

Some other helpful resources mentioned in today’s episode include:

Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Shrinkcast Episode 8: The Humansphere

Phil and I meet for coffee every Monday morning. Phil is Khesed’s Program Manager and this is our weekly check-in. It’s official business but we look for any excuse to talk the theory of all things.

Like last week, he told me about Monkeysphere Theory. Have you ever heard of Monkeysphere Theory? 

Is Valentine's Day For You?

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You may be someone who goes all out of Valentine’s Day for your partner by making them feel special in whatever way you can. For others Valentine’s Day may bring up feelings of sadness, anger, or loneliness. Valentine’s Day may be another reminder of unmet needs and let down expectations of their hopes and future as a couple. This feeling can be really difficult to face and most days it may be easier to put on a good face and push down your longings and desires for intimacy, closeness, and living out your dreams with you partner. Acknowledging these distant gaps can leave you feeling discouraged, guilty, or even shame.

Brene Brown’s definition of shame was developed by her decade of research on shame and connection. She defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging” (Brown, 2012, p. 69). This feeling of shame can take many different forms to help protect us from our own vulnerability -- perfectionism, addiction, anger and criticalness. When we ignore or suppress our need for connection, we are literally suppressing a primal human need.

Since the early 1900s, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth’s research revealed from their studies of infants at orphanages and hospital institutions that attachment is a necessity for infants’ survival (Bretherton, 1992).  There has been a recent breakthrough in attachment research that has revealed that belonging and connection are just as primal of needs for adults as they are for babies. This survival need is met for adults in long-term significant relationships that create a sense of safety, meaning, and intimate connection. This might be with a close long-term friend or family member, or with your partner or significant other. If you feel that you and your partner have lost that sense of safety and connection in your relationship, that does not have to mean that it is over. Many couples get caught in what Sue Johnson, the developer of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, calls a negative cycle. She describes a couples negative cycle as a dance that has changed from music that was once beautiful and effortless to something painful and difficult.

A common dance couples get into is when one partner will get very angry and upset when they feel their needs are not being met and the other one shrinks away and disengages either emotionally or physically. Often anger or withdrawal are what each partner in the relationship experiences, however, there is a deeper level of interaction happening where both are really seeking to connect. Oftentimes, these surface reactions of anger and withdrawal were learned in childhood or in another significant relationship that wounded them as a mechanism to help them survive when they feel their primal need of love and belonging being threatened.

If you and your partner feel like you are stuck in a negative dance with one another, know that what each of you may be experiencing is probably not the full story. Underneath every negative reaction to conflict, there is the need that each of you have to connect and belong. Dr. Sue Johnson has designed a method of couples therapy called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy to help couples begin to realize their negative cycle. She also has written the book “Hold Me Tight” to help couples begin to unpack the layers of their relationship to help them make disconnection the enemy and not one another and find their way back to connection and intimacy. If you would like help with your relationship, please feel free to reach out to one of our therapists. Amy McCann is one of our couples therapists and she is certified in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Please feel free to reach out today for a free intake today and know that there is hope to find a way back to love and belonging.  

Sources

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Bretherton, I. (1992). The origins of attachment theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth.
American Psychological Association, 28, 5, 759-775.

About the Author:

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Amy McCann, RP, Apprentice, is earning her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Denver Seminary. She is open to seeing many types of clients of all age ranges. She is trained in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and desires to help couples strengthen their relationship. Amy earned her Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Movement Science from the University of Vermont, and desires to help her clients in a holistic way. She is passionate about people finding true freedom and healing in every area of life. Amy also has rich cultural experiences with living overseas and enjoys cross-cultural work with clients. Amy is originally from Boston, but loves living in Colorado with her husband. They enjoy hiking, fly fishing, playing games with friends, and eating ice cream.