Humans have long used seasonal changes to mark life’s transitions and often view them as a time to start fresh. In fact, the “fresh start effect” is a recognized phenomenon that suggests that people are more likely to focus on important goals following “temporal landmarks,” such as a birthday, new year, or other significant moment in time. The Labor Day holiday is a particularly salient time to take stock and tackle new goals. The holiday’s origins – a movement to end abysmal pay, hours, and conditions for American workers – offer an opportunity to think about how we’re spending our time, both professionally and personally. With the tumultuous events of 2020, many of us may feel like we’re only surviving – going through the motions to get through these challenging times. At Sunstone Counseling, we’re here to help you move from surviving to thriving. The following are some strategies for managing stress and challenges, making a fresh start, and recognizing when you need professional guidance.
Sunstone strategy #1: Self-care
Most people are familiar with the airplane safety instruction: put on your oxygen mask before helping others. It’s sound advice outside of a plane as well. You simply cannot take care of anything else if you haven’t taken care of yourself. It’s important to start with the building blocks of a healthy body and mind and ensure you’re eating nutritious food, getting quality sleep, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and minimizing alcohol use. Additionally, pay attention and devote time to the restorative practices and interpersonal relationships that bring joy to your life. These could be reading a book, taking a bath, meditating, going to counseling, or enjoying a meal with loved ones. Whatever it is, prioritize those activities and make time for them. When you’re feeling whole and energized, you’re better equipped to tackle the challenges that will inevitably come and provide support to the important people in your life.
Sunstone strategy #2: Time blocking
Labor Day signals the transition to a flurry of fall activities: increased school and work obligations, planning ahead for the holiday season, and this year, the added challenge of transitioning to distance learning for parents and children, just to name a few. It’s common to set unrealistic expectations when the calendar gets full and to get side-tracked by the little things. This is a good opportunity to try time blocking – segmenting your day into chunks of time dedicated to specific tasks. For example, instead of getting distracted by checking email throughout the day, set aside 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon to check and respond to email. This will free up your time to laser focus on the important tasks that need to get done. Carefully planning your time, including making time for self-care as discussed above, will help you focus on what’s important – and filter out what’s not. Not sure how to start time blocking? There’s a highly trained therapist at Sunstone who can guide you!
Sunstone strategy #3: Set your vision
Best-selling author and speaker Simon Sinek challenged business leaders to “start with why” to help create more inspiring and fulfilling workplaces, but the “why” is also relevant to our entire lives. Connecting to your “why” can help you understand what motivates, inspires, and fulfills you, and can be your north star for decision-making and prioritization. Heeding our own advice, the staff at Sunstone Counseling has undertaken a visioning exercise to connect to our why and better serve our clients. We believe that when you’re connected to your true self, your vision, goals, strategies, and actions can emerge.
Sunstone strategy #4: Get professional, compassionate help when you need it
Even with the best strategies and coping mechanisms in place, life can feel overwhelming and challenging, but you don’t have to face it alone. Working with a therapist can provide the relief you deserve and get you to a healthy and fulfilled place more quickly than going it alone.
A highly-trained, professional, and compassionate counselor – like the ones here at Sunstone – can be your guide on the challenging journey ahead. They can even help with the strategies mentioned above and go deeper into challenges that may be holding you back or keeping you stuck. Our goal as counselors is to work with you to identify your roadblocks and guide you to healing and the solutions already within you.
Contact Sunstone Counseling for a free 15-minute consultation and to find the right counselor for you.
*As a co-owner of Sunstone Counseling and clinical supervisor to several counselors, Amy Clay often has great thoughts and ideas for content but lacks the time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). This post was written with the help of Deidre Huntington, our new content creator who loves hearing Amy say “Hello, Deidre! I have a topic we should write about…”If there is a topic you’d like us to cover in future blogs, please contact us and let us know!