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Choosing Between Helping Others and Helping Myself

Anyone who has been keeping up to date with my story knows that within the past two years I have worked incredibly hard to overcome my struggles with depression. In 2019, I went from wanting to die to feeling like my best self, and I established goals that would allow me to continue on a path of personal growth. I felt so proud of my accomplishments and level of motivation, and I felt inspired to continue working toward feeling mentally and physically healthy.

Fast forward to now, and I have to admit that I have reached a small speed bump in the road. In December 2019, I excitedly accepted a promotion from outpatient therapist to crisis intervention specialist at the agency that I am employed. I chose to continue seeing several outpatient clients part time, because I experienced some difficulty letting go and thought I could handle the workload. This means that I am currently working about 12 hours per day, 5 days per week. While I love what I do and often feel inspired through helping others, I am also ready to admit that I am finding myself increasingly frustrated.

I have always excelled at time management and have taken my professional responsibilities seriously. Throughout the past few years, I have been passionate about balancing my professional responsibilities with my personal needs, and I actually got to a place where I was incredibly happy with myself. I felt mentally health, focused, and determined to continue working toward becoming my best self.

Let us first acknowledge that progress is not always a forward motion and that we are almost guaranteed to experience back slides (after all, we are all human….. I think). The Wellness Warrior is a space in which I want to share my growth and be transparent with my struggles, and I wouldn’t be doing this site or myself any justice if I didn’t express my own frustrations.

I think within the past several months, I have slightly lost track of my main goal: To feel wholly healthy. I have been so focused in being there for my clients that I haven’t been present in my own life. Lately, I am mentally exhausted to the point where I’m having trouble focusing on personal relationships and interests. I’ve done minimal work toward my previously established goals and have not indulged in many of my preferred activities (as some may notice from my minimal updates to this blog).

Yesterday, I found myself calling out of work just so I could go outside for a hike and enjoy beautiful weather, and that is when I truly realized the severity of the issue. If I am working so much that I’m feeling I can’t enjoy my life without calling out of work, that is a huge issue.

I haven’t been taking the time to practice as much meditation, and I’ve noticed how my own thought patterns have reverted. My mind has been spinning out with my first reaction to events, which often times is irrational. I am less patient with others and with myself.

With all of this being said, I am struggling between choosing to help others and help myself. I love the work that I do, but I also have to acknowledge and consider when I am giving too much of myself to others and not enough to myself. I am finally ready to admit that I need to take a step back from my professional endeavors in order to better focus on caring for myself and being an active participant in my own life.

And this is where my Wellness Warriors coming in, because I have always struggled to say no when it comes to my career. What tips do you have with establishing professional boundaries? How can I empower myself to advocate for my own needs? How can I remind myself that, where my clients want to work with me, they don’t need to work me to achieve their goals?

7 thoughts on “Choosing Between Helping Others and Helping Myself

  1. I bet you preach self-care to clients. This is an instance of practicing what you preach. They’re lucky to have you, but if you’re not at your best, you’re not helping anyone. While we are in very different lines of work, I learned to take long breaks. It’s OK to work 12 hours, if you’ve got a two-hour break in the middle. And when it’s time to walk away, you walk away. A good friend of mine who I worked with at a daily newspaper 20 years ago reminded me of this when I needed to tame my schedule. At the end of the night, we weren’t done making the newspaper because it was ready, we were done because it was time. You can always make more work for yourself. At some point, it’s time to stop. The final thing I learned is that even one solid day away from all of it can do an amazing amount of good. Your time off is your time off. Even during your hike you were thinking about your stress and hours. You need to develop the ability to completely unplug.

  2. 12 hours per day is a very long shift. I have once done 12 hours years ago. But it was only overtime that made up my 12 hours in those days. (I was in my 20’s when I did this and a full time job.) But as much as I enjoyed my job and those 12 hours were easy work. It was also very tiring by second day. There was no way I would be able to have coped with 12 hours then, let alone now, no matter how much I loved the job.
    Is it possible you are able to reduce yiur hours a little in those days, so they are not 12 hour shifts?

  3. Burning out isn’t going to help your clients, so by taking care of yourself you’ll be in a better position to provide care to them.

  4. This is so true and I agree with everything that you said. Helping yourself comes first always before others especially if your job or profession involves helping others. Or else you won’t be in the right mindset to do your job.

    I definitely needed to hear this so thank you for this post. 🙂

  5. I really appreciate the commitment you have for your profession and take care of your clients. Those who take care of wellness of others are taken care by our Bhagwan Ji. I pray that if your tribe may multiply, then, sure enough, the world will be a better place to live.. Thanks and regards.

  6. Sometimes, we give so much to our jobs and others, we have nothing left for ourselves. I used to play hookie from work from time to time and had zero guilt. My thought is that you need to take care of yourself, if you want to be able to help others. All the best.

  7. Oh I loveeeeee this. Its so important to make deposits into ourselves, otherwise we let people withdraw and then we end up exhausted and tired. I am guilty of this.

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