My Staycation - Spring Break 2018

Today is the start of my staycation for Spring Break 2018. I am not planning on going too far from home, but who knows what will happen later this week. I like staying home as part of my self-care routine. I love to travel, but I don't often have the funds to do so. I REALLY love free trips, so if you need anyone to travel to your place to talk about something music therapy-related, let me know! I'll be there as soon as possible!!

Anyway, I will be spending my Spring Break the way I spend most breaks - at home with the cat, making lots of plans that just don't seem very important when it comes down to it. I must clean. I must throw things out. I want to be able to buy a new bed at the end of this week, so I have to organize and clean out enough to get the old bed out and the new bed in. I also have my new bullet journal routine (see yesterday's post) to continue to establish into a habit. I also need to do some grocery shopping, cooking, and eating.

So, what does all this have to do with being a music therapist?

I spent an hour during my inservice day listening to a lecture on compassion fatigue and burnout. Now, I went into that lecture knowing that I teach this to others on a regular basis, so I did not expect to learn anything new. I didn't. I listened to the talk about these two very important aspects of working in a helping profession, and all that was presented was the negative aspect. There was NEVER a comment about engaging in self-care practices when these things happen. It's my contention that compassion fatigue and burnout happens to every person in a helping profession at one time or another. 

There was never a comment about this being natural as part of the work that we do. Never. There were statistics about how horrible it was that people who work in a (note that: ONE) facility similar to ours have these thoughts about burnout and compassion fatigue. The entire lecture focused on not having these feelings. I contend that not having those feelings is a situation that will not happen. I believe that we all go through some or all of these feelings at one time or another. I also believe that these feelings are not wrong, but they do need to be addressed when (not if) they occur.

When I talk to music therapy interns about this topic, I spend more time on what we can do to ameliorate some of the symptoms of burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma than on what is going on. We try to focus more on the ways to engage in proactive self-care and purposeful self-awareness than on the numbers. We also discuss ways to notice when these things are starting to be a concern for each of us.

My staycation is part of my self-care plan. I need time to myself to recharge and to be a better therapist. I will spend time this week working on things that I know make me feel happy - session strategizing, developing themes, making visual aids. I'll also spend time doing things that are designed to make me think about other things - reading, watching movies, cooking fun food, and whatever else happens in the week. I'll have to do things I don't like as much - cleaning, buying furniture (ugh - that causes me some anxiety, but it has to be done), throwing things out (it has to happen no matter how difficult it is for me to do - I refuse to become a hoarder!), and spending money.

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think that all people who work in helping professions feel a bit of compassion fatigue at one point or another. I think that almost all people who work feel burnout at one point as well. The good news is that both of these situations do not have to be permanent or career ending.

I have been a music therapist for almost 25 years (my anniversary is March 26th!). During my career, I have felt both of these things over and over again, but I am still a music therapist. I still love this profession, and I still enjoy working with clients in the therapy clinic! I think that this means that I have good awareness of myself, of the job, of the expectations and the rigors, and of the need for self-care on a regular basis.

The only positive aspect of the lecture yesterday was that we were asked to list 5 things that we enjoyed doing. I listed reading, movies, travel, eating, and talking to my family. The leader told us (in the last 3 minutes of the lecture) that those were things we should do more often. I was able to state with confidence that I had done all of those things in the past week, including the travel!! Hooray! What a great way to start off a week of rest and relaxation and refreshing my living space.

My staycation starts as soon as I publish this blog. I am going to start with the front closet. I have a vision of an instrument storage closet where my theme boxes are stored along with my boxes of instruments. I just need to figure out where to put my shoes, but I just had a brainstorm about that as well! This whole vacation is already off to a GREAT start!

Time to get started. Take some time to do something for you today. It will lead you to better things in the future! I promise. A bit of self-care goes a long way.

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