Thursday, October 31, 2013

Self Care: Monitor Your Intake

I was recently discussing books with some people I know and they suggested certain books to me that are not in my usual genre. As an avid reader, I generally read 4 books at a time: 1 audio book in the car (fiction or biographical), 1 for-fun fiction book, and 2 non-fiction books, generally related to psychology or another of my work-aspirations. Whatever I'm in the mood for, I'm partway through one of them. But my for-fun book is always fiction, always set in some fantasy place or completely made up setting of a real place. I like wizards and dragons and magic and being transported to somewhere completely new and outside of my reality.

So when these other avid readers suggested murder-mystery books and books about interesting serial killers and the like, I wasn't interested. In my practice, I hear a lot of stories and many are quite unpleasant, which is why they need a professional to clear that stuff away. I'm very skilled at leaving other people's problems in the office and not letting that bleed into my life. I don't stay up at night thinking about the terrible things that happened to my clients - not ever. This isn't callous, this is how you keep from burning out and stay with the client in that moment, in control of the situation and not get pulled into the story. You don't want me crying with you in session, right? Me either! How unprofessional.

Similarly, my husband and I were talking about horror movies recently and I discerned that I no longer like the kind with "realistic" happenings in them - serial killers, madmen, psychos - but I still like the kind with supernatural appeal - haunted places, things come to life, mythological creatures. Those just aren't as scary to me as they could be real or not. There are really killers in the world. It doesn't interest me to spend my free time on that stuff.

My free time is for fun and I want it to be completely fun. I also limit what sorts of depressing media I take in. I never watch reality TV shows - it's all over-produced and parts are scripted anyhow, so it's not "reality" anyhow - because it's all drama and arguments and physical fights. That's no way to act. I don't want to see people behaving badly. I don't watch the news, almost ever, and if I do, it's BBC World News America because they don't throw in a bunch of sensationalism and make you terrified. Who needs that? I sometimes watch The Daily Show, but it's comedy and not all truth.

Think also about who you allow in your life and what they bring to the relationship. Take care of you in your way. Limit what you take in. Monitor your intake and do what is right for you.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe on the right under Follow by Email for the weekly blog delivered directly to you.

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