Self-care, reducing work stress - and bridge metaphor

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Self-care, reducing work stress - and bridge metaphor

Post by miriam » Sat Apr 07, 2007 8:30 pm

One thing my supervisor suggests that seems quite sensible to me, is a metaphorical process of hanging up work stresses as you leave (imagine hanging each on the branch of a tree that you see as you walk out the building, or putting one stressor on top of each of a number of objects on your route home, and then collect them the next time you go into work). I think that sounds like a great idea. In practise I do it by leaving my work bag in the car, or by the front door (although I feel the pressure enough not to be able to leave it at work), and try to make it the exception rather than the rule to be doing work stuff out of work hours, though its easier said than done.

For many years I didn't read anything but psychology related books, so it has been a real joy to me to let go of that guilt and read some novels. I also find creative activities very relaxing and do all sorts of things from silk-painting, to pyrography, to glass engraving, to mosaics, etc. I also try and swim regularly (relaxation and exercise all in one go), to watch plenty of films (I have an annual cinema pass) and we also try to see a live gig, a play or comedian every month or two. Most essentially, I try to do something with friends at least once a week. Oh, and I have a massage regularly too.

You can also use cognitive strategies such as asking yourself if your ruminations serve any useful purpose. Do they make the person less likely to self-harm, or mean you are doing a better job? You can only do so much. It is your job to try and help within your hours and your ability, not the purpose of your life to dedicate yourself 100% to your clients. I find a story I once heard useful (another narrative metaphor. BTW, I assigned the genders for ease of telling and for better role identification).

The man on the bridge

A woman was crossing a bridge over a ravine on her way home to her family when she saw a man coming in the other direction. As he drew level with her he said "hold this" and handed her a rope. Before she could gather her thoughts the man tied the other end of the rope to his belt and jumped off the bridge. She felt the rope unravelling and held on as tight as she could, bracing herself against the side of the bridge. The man came to rest swinging below her under the bridge, over the ravine. The woman knew that if she let go the man would fall to his doom. "Climb up" the woman urged. "No, I can't" the man said. "You will have to pull me up". The woman was using all her strength just to hold on to the rope. "I can't pull you up. You need to climb" she said. "I can't climb. You need to pull me up" the man said again. "I'm your responsibility. If you don't pull me up I will die".

Some things to think about.

What can she do? She can't pull him up, but she can't let him fall.
Whose fault would it be if he fell?
Is it reasonable of him to ask her to pull him up?
What would be the best solution for him?
What would be the best solution for her?
Is there a solution that is okay for both of them?

When you have done thinking, mouse over the space below this line.
What would happen if she tied the end of the rope to the bridge and walked away?
Would she have done enough, or does she need to pull him to safety herself or stay there until he climbs up?
Does her staying and encouraging him to climb help or hinder him compared to tying the rope and walking away?

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Content checked by qualified clinical psychologist (BlueCat) on 23/05/2016
Content checked by qualified Clinical Psychologist on 15/2/2012
Last modified on 15/2/2012

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