4 Types of Vacations Every Sensitive Therapist Needs
If you’re a Sensitive Therapist, chances are you are not getting enough time off and could be feeling the looming effects of overwhelm, stress or burnout right now. This is such a common experience for us. Even if you take holidays off and go on vacation every summer, that still may not be enough downtime to make your work feel sustainable.
According to Dr. Elaine Aron, bestselling author and researcher on the trait, “you have to take care of yourself more than other therapists”. Considering the type of work we do of supporting people emotionally and caring for their mental health, we need even more time off to care for ourselves and organize our businesses.
Below I explore the four types of vacations we need to incorporate into our yearly schedule, how to take more vacations so we feel balanced and ways to ensure we get the most out of our time off.
The Four Types of Vacations Every Sensitive Therapist Needs
In addition to needing time off to relax and decompress, we also have to consider our needs to deeply process decisions and ease into transitions. Due to our unique disposition, the dichotomy of the work-vacation model isn’t supportive for us and could actually leave us feeling more exhausted. This creates a need for more options such as the staycation, workation and time away for trainings to maintain balance long-term.
True Vacation: Taking time away from home can be very restorative because we get to leave behind our daily responsibilities and just focus on leisure.
Staycation: Sometimes vacations can become overwhelming or depleting for many reasons. We don’t have the energy to manage the logistics and planning of being away from home, have to endure long flights, noisy airports and travel delays or we don’t have buffer day scheduled between vacationing and returning to work. This is where the magic of the staycation comes in - we can turn everything off without leaving the house!
Workation: Taking time off of your practice to work may seem counterintuitive since you aren’t relaxing or making money, but the workation is actually the best move for a Highly Sensitive Therapist who has a propensity to get overwhelmed when multitasking. By taking a few days off of seeing clients we can deep dive into our administrative and business planning responsibilities. The workation can be used for catching up on notes, organizing files, revamping the copy on your website to bring in new clients, or strategizing the next phase of your business. My favorite times to take workations are in the new year when I’m feeling inspired to start fresh or during the slow summer months.
Trainings: We also have to take into account time away for professional trainings and certification courses that we may be pursuing to satisfy continuing education requirements. These should not count towards vacation as they are often overstimulating instead of restorative.
When planning for time away from your practice, it’s important to consider all the different reasons you may be taking vacations - true vacations, staycations, workations and trainings.
How to Take More Vacations
The two most common obstacles to taking more time off for Sensitive Therapists are financial worry and the guilt of how prioritizing our needs will impact our clients. Both of these are very valid and real concerns that can be easily managed with a bit of planning.
Create a Vacation Fund: Start a dedicated savings account that is just for vacation expenses and income.
Plan Ahead: Set an automatic deposit into your vacation fund each month. If you never see the money, you won’t miss it.
Set Clear Expectations: Let your clients know ahead of time that you take a week off each season so they expect it from the beginning. Although the guilt may be strong, remember that you are modeling good self-care and direct communication. Without adequate time off, you risk burning out and not being able to help anyone.
Clean Up Your Recurring Expenses: Cancel any subscriptions or professional memberships you aren’t using and redirect those funds to your vacation savings account.
Keep It Simple: Take shorter breaks and stay closer to home if you have a smaller budget. Staycations or short weekend getaways can sometimes be more rejuvenating than more elaborate trips with extensive air travel.
Sync Your Schedule with Clients: Take advantage of holidays and maximize slower months. For example, if you live in a cold climate with a lot of snow days, plan more time off during the snowy season or if you work mostly with children, sync up your time off with school vacations.
Raise Your Fees Slightly: Even raising your fees by $5 per session could make an impact in your vacation fund.
Modify Your Schedule: If you have a lower case load, you could also modify your weekly schedule to work only three or four days per week and build in an extended weekend every week. Once per month you could schedule a staycation or weekend getaway without taking any additional time off.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Time Off
It’s a common experience for Sensitive Therapists to feel more drained than refreshed after a vacation. Completing a few extra steps ahead of time will ensure you can unplug without worry.
Get Coverage: No matter what type of vacation you are planning, it’s imperative that you can truly immerse in the experience so be sure to:
Find a cover therapist to meet with your clients if a crisis arises while you’re offline.
Turn on your out-of-office message on your email with the contact information of your cover therapist and the dates you’ll be away.
Update your voicemail message so folks won’t be expecting a return call while you’re away.
Schedule a Buffer Day: Even if you have to shorten your vacation time slightly, schedule a buffer day between your time away and first day back to work. A buffer day is so important for Sensitive folks who need more time to transition. Going back to work immediately without time to unpack and adjust to being back to your typical routine may leave you feeling more frazzled.
Don’t Overextend Yourself: No matter what type of vacation you’re diving into, take the pressure off to not do ALL the things! Just because you’re not working doesn’t mean you still don’t need downtime to process all the little details you’ve taken in all day.
As Sensitive Therapists, we have a greater need for downtime which means taking more time away to ensure our work is sustainable and doesn’t lead to burnout. This means planning ahead of time to ensure we have time away not only for vacations and travel, but also for staycations to decompress, workations to catch up on administrative tasks and trainings to satisfy continuing education requirements. Taking so much time off may bring up financial worries or feelings of guilt, but can be managed with budgeting and setting clear expectations with our clients. Taking time off is not optional, but essential to thrive in the work we do of supporting the emotional well-being of others.
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