The last days of the year are often a time for reflection and there is a lot to think back on from this turbulent year.
Maybe you quit a job or wanted to be able to. Maybe you’ve returned to the office. Whatever you have experienced in your job that year, therapists have heard it all.
Below is the best advice from therapists on how to get off to a good start in 2022. Carry their wisdom into the new year.
When you feel overwhelmed, do something rather than nothing.
“A topic that comes up again and again in my meetings with customers is the urge to leave the workplace when you feel overwhelmed at work.
Avoidance coping is when we avoid what is causing us stress in order to temporarily feel better. So, if we have a ton of things to do at work and we are stressed out thinking about where to start, in the moment it feels less stressful not working on anything.
I work with my clients to “do something instead of nothing” when they feel overwhelmed at work. Even if it’s only one thing. This will help cross your to-do list and keep the overwhelmed feelings from getting worse tomorrow.
Questions to ask yourself: What realistically do I have the energy for today? Be honest with yourself about what bandwidth you have to work on.
Which job will get me the most for my money? What would relieve the greatest stress when you are done? Start here if you can. “
– Shannon Garcia, a psychotherapist with State of Wellness Counseling in Illinois and Wisconsin
Always choose you.
“Choose yourself. We learned a lot about what many companies think about the health and safety of their employees. We saw how many people were sacrificed to keep the bottom line up and that really woke people up. Many of us have worked way too hard, sacrificing our families, happiness, and peace of mind for an employer who has no loyalty or concern for us.
So the most important professional advice I have to take with me into the New Year is always: Make up your mind. Choose your own well-being, go in directions that suit you and your goals in life. And if you don’t know what these goals are, you owe it to yourself to take some time to figure out what you really want. It’s time to step off the hamster wheel and prioritize our own needs.
The next piece of advice is rest. You are human and rest is a duty. Associated with rest, do not sleep in your free time! Find a hobby, practice getting really good at something just because you enjoy it.
And please don’t give in to the “grind the whole day” culture that says you should make money from everything you do. Productivity isn’t your only goal in life. You don’t have to monetize your joy. Keep some things to yourself. You deserve it and you need it. “
– Tanisha M. Ranger, licensed clinical psychologist based in Las Vegas
You don’t have to earn a day off to rest.
“We live in a society that values productivity, busy schedules and daily overwork. It is important to set clear boundaries in your work life in order to take better care of yourself.
Allow yourself to rest, take a day off, use your paid time off and sick leave, and allow yourself to say “no” to things you are physically or mentally unable to do. You don’t have to earn a day off to rest. “
– Katheryn Perez, a marriage and family therapist based in Burbank, California
Just focus on that hour or that moment.
“If you have a tough time or are struggling, it makes sense. We are living through chronic trauma [because of the pandemic].
In a way, you make it one day at a time or one hour at a time. We cannot forever predict how things will be. In this moment, be as present and mindful as possible. Don’t worry about the whole year, just concentrate on this hour or this moment. ”
– Elizabeth Cohen, clinical psychologist in New York City
Ask yourself: what do I want?
“Discover what you really want and work towards that goal. If the clutter of the past two years has brought any benefits, it is that many have realized how flexible and adaptable work can be.
With so many options, the most important question for people is often the hardest to answer: What do I want? Like, really, deep down, what am I most passionate about? Is it money, flexibility, meaningful work, creativity, great colleagues, location, a combination or something completely different? It may take some time to explore yourself, talk to loved ones, or work with a therapist to uncover, but it’s worth it.
Once you discover your interests and passions, set off to see if your current job or career path can adapt to your goals, or if you need to change course.
If you feel like work has been a nerve-wracking drudgery for years, now may be the time to make a change. But the first step is to know yourself. “
– Ryan Howes, Pasadena, California-based psychologist and author of the Mental Health Journal for Men
Establish a system for to-do lists.
“It can be helpful to have a to-do list system in place. One system I like is a to-do list for today, a to-do list for this week, and a longer-term to-do list. It can feel overwhelming when there are a lot of things on your to-do list, so it can feel easier to divide them up that way. “
– Rebecca Leslie, an Atlanta psychologist
Develop consistent routines.
“Many of my clients work remotely and feel pressured by their employers to go back to work personally. It seemed like employers set arbitrary dates for getting back to the office without worrying about the mental and physical well-being of their employees, and those dates kept changing.
I would recommend customers focus on what they can control and do to protect themselves and others. With any uncertainty, I encourage developing consistent routines that can help you anchor yourself through the day, such as how to start your morning, what encourages you during the day, and how to settle down after work. “
– Adjoa Osei, a clinical psychologist based in New York City
When in doubt, communicate directly.
“When in doubt, communicate directly. With so many people moving from home / remote working configurations to work, the digital communication that is replacing face-to-face interaction leaves more room for misunderstanding.
If a person’s email or text seems brief instead of assuming they’re upset with you, clarify with a follow-up question and prioritize a communication method that is as close to real as possible (i.e. video first, then Audio, then real). Time chat and finally asynchronous communication such as SMS or e-mail).
Don’t avoid conflict. Sure, conflict can be scary, especially in the workplace. But it is much better to find out for sure if there is a problem than to waste emotional energy guessing if there is one. Instead of seeing conflict as a scary thing to avoid, see it as an opportunity to learn and increase understanding. “
– Therese Mascardo, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and CEO of Exploring Therapy based in Lisbon, Portugal and Santa Monica, California
Humans are not mind readers.
“In trying to do your best, please indicate exactly what kind of support you seek from loved ones.
People aren’t mind readers and support doesn’t come in one package. Do you want someone who challenges you during this time? Do you prefer hard love or do you want lasting security? Do you want someone to remind you to be realistic or do you want someone to take a passive role but comfort you when things don’t go as you planned?
Prepare for success by speaking clearly about what you need. Feeling supported, no matter what, can be empowering, especially in the face of an uncertain path. ”
– Anita A. Chlipala, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in Chicago
Answers have been edited slightly for clarity and length.