4 tools therapists use when they’re dealing with anxiety themselves

The global health crisis we’re in has gotten anxiety levels to be at an all-time high. Whether you’re having to worry about the uncertainty of it all, dealing with the loss of a loved one or nervous about re-entering the world after a series of lockdowns, you’re likely finding your check engine light on. For medical professionals, this has only compounded. Mental health experts, psychologists and psychiatrists might not be at the hospital, but behind the scenes, they’re dealing with their own stresses while helping their patients navigate them.

“Being therapists doesn’t exclude people from being anxious or distressed,” confirms Dishaa Desai, psychologist at Mpower. “Dealing with the uncertainty of it all—about when this might end or get better, of the virus impacting myself or my family/friends, the mental and physical exhaustion from being hyper-vigilant and the feeling of being stuck in a time warp have all played their own part in me feeling anxious,” shares Desai. But therapists do have toolkits to work from. Here’s how they work through difficult days and share their best hacks for when they’re overwhelmed.

Acknowledging their anxiety

“What has helped me cope with my own sources of anxiety is first acknowledging that I am anxious and sitting with it (physically and emotionally) till I feel better able to reflect on it,” says Desai. Having a safe space to feel vulnerable can help you vent out your thoughts. “Reaching out to my loved ones to share what I am personally going through emotionally is something that I actively do and helps me feel less alone, more connected and safely vulnerable,” adds Desai.

A simple trick that works wonders for psychologist Shachi Dalal is recognising her “inner anxious voice”. “When I find myself feeling nervous, I try to tune in to my thoughts—what is my inner dialogue? What are my anxious thoughts saying? I have tuned myself to recognise that these are based more on fear of the unknown than reality. I try to engage in some neutral self-talk. I ask myself what the worst that can happen is, and then I reassure myself that I can handle it anyway.”

Maintaining routines

Mumbai-based psychologist Tanya Vasunia finds that keeping a morning and night routine, complete with a relaxing shower and a good TV show binge, helps ground her. While everyone might have a different routine to unwind, having a set routine helps as you are not facing unpredictability every single moment.

Channelling inner creativity

All these mental health pros consciously set aside time for creative activities which helps them process their own feelings. Vasunia relies on colouring books, while Desai likes getting lost in a good novel. “I am transported out of my thoughts,” she confirms.

Another effective way to self-soothe is to journal and write down your disturbing thoughts. “Journalling is a great tool to externalise your thoughts. Often, anxious thoughts may seem like an insurmountable jumble in our heads. When we write it out, it gives us clarity of thought and also acts as a cathartic tool,” says Dalal.

Relying on peer supervision

It’s a fairly common practice for therapists to reach out to their peers for therapy at times. Everyone needs a reality check and a guiding mind, and therapists are no different. “Peer supervision is a great support system. The healthiest and best therapists have at various points in time sought therapy,” reflects Vasunia. They agree it helps them grow as therapists, practice more self-compassion and focus on steps that are in their control.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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