7 Actions to Save Your Sanity as a Counselor
7 Actions to Save Your Sanity as a Counselor

7 Actions to Save Your Sanity as a Counselor

Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

Your career as a counselor can be very demanding. From long hours to endless clinical notes, it may feel like you are drowning in work. Most counselors support, nurture, and assist their clients in accomplishing their life goals that often include overall wellness. However, as a counselor, you may find yourself struggling to practice what you are teaching your clients. Your ability to help your clients will depend on how you balance your wellness. Here are 7 actions to save your sanity as a counselor. 

1. Schedule time off for your mental wellness

You encourage your clients to schedule days off for their well-being, and this advice also applies to you. You are a human with emotions, needs, and desires, so you need to schedule time off to attend to them. Whether it’s a long weekend, vacation, or a mental health day you are responsible for taking action for your wellness. Many counselors struggle with this because they know there is a massive workload. However, this won’t change, and you can bet that your work will not lighten up down the road. This means that you need to do whatever it takes for your mental wellness. You also need something to look forward to, especially when demands are high. Just thinking about your next day off can flood your brain with ‘feel good’ chemicals.

2. Get outside during the day

Are you walking into the office early morning and leaving when it’s dark out? It’s easy for an entire day to pass and you haven’t stepped outside. For your overall wellness, you need to get outside during the day. If you can only spare a few minutes, take a walk around the building or stand outside to get fresh air. Just the act of going outside can lift your spirits and change your surroundings.

3. Find support and supervision

It can feel very lonely as a counselor because you are working solo with clients. You need to have someone who can support you and a place to vent. Whether it’s speaking with a peer or supervisor, it’s important to share what you are experiencing. It can help you feel more connected and not as alone. Another counselor can understand what you are experiencing, and they have likely felt the same way. Don’t forget to seek supervision for challenging clients. Find an experienced supervisor or clinical consultant who can assist you with cases that you need direction with. You are not in this alone, but you have to take the first step for support.

4. Schedule breaks throughout your day

Have you ever asked yourself, where did the day go? It’s easy to see a day go by quickly as you are seeing clients, completing paperwork, and attending meetings. You need to schedule breaks throughout your day. Even if it’s only 5-15 minutes it’s important that you take time for yourself. Also, don’t skip lunch to finish your notes. Your mental wellness depends on you staying balanced and nourished. Don’t worry the documentation will be there when you return.

5. Keep your wellness appointments

You expect and encourage your clients to keep their appointments, so you need to do the same. Since your schedule is packed with appointments and meetings, it can be easy to cancel your appointments for self-care. Schedule regular visits for checkups including medical, dental, massages, supervision, and your therapy as needed. If you don’t care for yourself, how can you continue to guide others?

6. Make time for important relationships

Family, partners, and friends are essential in your life. When your work schedule is out of control, and you barely have time for yourself, it can be challenging to make time for those you care about. However, these are the people who can help give you the support you need. Many counselors struggle to ask for help even though they are in the helping profession. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need it. Make time for the people that you value because they are priceless.

7. Schedule fun

All work and no play can lead to many problems for you. Make time for fun by engaging in hobbies and interest that you enjoy. Think about what you use to enjoy doing before your schedule became busy. Look at what hobbies you enjoy and schedule the time to engage in them. Making time for fun activities will help you decrease stress and enjoy your life.

Now is a great time to review your life goals and integrate your overall wellness. No one can make these changes for you. It is your responsibility to take action to find your balance. You are more than just a counselor. You are a person who deserves happiness. You freely give to others so take the time to give to yourself. Doing this will make you an even better counselor.

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