Energy at Work: What recharges you?

Last night I saw a great horned owl sitting at the top of a tall pine tree silhouetted against the sky.

We had been hearing the hoots of the owls for the past several weeks. Sometimes we would hear him near bedtime when we walked outside briefly to say good night to departing guests or to pet our front porch cat. A few times I heard him calling early in the morning.

I had looked for him before, but seeing a bird in the dark is a real challenge, especially not really knowing where to look. It can be a challenge to localize the source of a bird call, especially one as loud and deep as that of an owl. The sound bounces off nearby houses and trees.

Last night, I walked out into an open part of my front yard and looked up toward the tops of very tall pine trees a couple of properties away from mine. I saw movement at the top of a tree, then saw a very large bird fly off. As I kept watching, I saw a second bird fly from the same location to the top of a nearby pine tree. It sat on the very top of the tree so I could see its 2+ foot height dark against the lighter sky. I ran inside to get my binoculars and he waited in the same spot. I had no camera with the power to photograph it, so my brain will need to store the image. And it will!

I am not a serious birder. I do not have a life list that I seek to fill. I do get significant pleasure from sighting birds that share my locale. It is a major recharge event for me.

You see, I have long found that I require a great deal of self-care and stress management to function well. When I worked as a psychologist, I used a variety of methods, mostly focused on professional involvement and time spent with other people. After 15 years of practice, I had burned out. I had not done enough to take care of myself.

I believe this is a major problem among behavioral healthcare workers. The job of assisting other people in being mentally healthy is a very difficult one. The chronically and seriously mentally ill can be a very satisfying but very draining population with which to work. Finding ways to recharge and re-energize is crucial to doing this work well.

Now that I work with providers of behavioral healthcare services instead of with patients themselves, I still need to do lots of self-care. Bicycling, gardening, watching the birds in my garden and near my home . . . these have become the ways I energize myself.

How do you take care of yourself? What recharges your batteries? Does your practice or organization have tools to help you with your self-care? When did you last see a great horned owl?

Please share your thoughts and experiences. When you offer your insights, you give other readers additional ideas to explore. Please do so!

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