Take a look at the list below, you may notice from the list several experiences your clients have reported feeling, these are certainly unsettling times. But have you notice feeling these (or similar) feelings yourself?

  • Lethargic
  • Unmotivated
  • Like I ‘should be doing something’
  • Everything feels pointless
  • Stressed out
  • Frightened
  • Anxious
  • Increased  social anxiety
  • Insecure
  • Mixed feelings-eg fear but also relief
  • Sadness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep disruption

Often we can be so focused on what our clients are experiencing that we may forget our own feelings. Indeed, as counsellors we are also experiencing and figuring out how to navigate this collective trauma.

If you generally live with anxiety and/depression many of these feelings may be common to you already, but may be heightened during this time.  Below are some ideas to help you manage your wellbeing while supporting your clients-you may notice some of this as advice you give to clients!

Keeping a routine

We know that structure is very important to wellbeing yet this is a time where so many of us have experienced a sudden loss of structure.  We may find ourselves on a much reduced workload or even without any work. If we work in organisations, we may feel uncertain about when and how the work will resume, and when we may see colleagues again. Indeed, things have been unsettled for some time and remain up in the air.

We may see the affect of this lack of structure thorough a change in our appetite and our sleep. We might be having strange dreams as our unconscious attempts to process experiences that feel surreal, and don’t make sense.  Indeed many counsellors have reported repeated vivid dreams that often feel very random, such as dreaming of close connections with old acquaintances. Others have noted dreams that suggest the processing of an old trauma, it can feel unclear if this is our own or comes from our client work.

Of course, poor sleep impacts on our energy levels and our moods and we may be struggling with lethargy and our own low mood. It can help to find ways to put some structure back into your life. Try to get up, eat and go to bed at the same time as you usually would. Some people find doing a particular activity at a similar time each day helps keep focus and routine.  Planning things that help mark out the evenings from the days and the weekends from the weeks can help reduced apathy. Some people make a creative timetable and fill it with as mix of activities.

Stay connected with others

Humans are social beings, as such being unable to socialise with others can really affect our mental wellbeing.

Many of us were drawn towards counselling as we wanted to connect with others.  If you are someone who is extroverted or the ‘outdoor type’ you may particularly struggle with not having this contact right now.

Putting pictures up around your living space of those who are important to you can help you feel more connected to loved one’s you are unable to see.

Others have found that planning a cuppa over video or phone provides comfort and a good focus for the week.  Regular texts to people you’ve lost touch with can help to create a sense of increased connection.

Many counsellors find solace through connecting with other counsellors on social media and knowing they are not alone. We are looking beyond our local area and finding ourselves connected with others right around the country, even the world.  As working in private practice can be an isolating experience, some counsellors are now feeling more connected than ever before.

It is vital to remember though that we are people beyond the job and having a second personal social media profile can help us to express ourselves more freely and keep work/life boundaries. This is particularly important at the moment when working from home and experiencing a similar intense experience to clients, where boundaries can feel more blurred. Though equally important, is knowing when to limit social media activities.

Limit exposure to the news and social media

Given that news is available 24/7 it can feel like we need to ‘keep on top of it’, However, much of what we read can leave us feeling scared and powerless rather than informed. It can be good to ask ourselves which source of information trust. How often do we find it helpful to check in? Is there someone we can trust who can tell us what we need to know in a calm manner?

Whilst social media can be a really helpful way to feel more connected to others thus reducing our isolation and helping us feel more supported and secure; we know that social media can also be unhelpful in that we are frequently exposed to images and information that we may find unsettling and upsetting. At present this includes mortality statistics and more personal accounts of abrupt loss. We experience vicarious trauma. This can often leaves us feeling sad and powerless. This is something that may be happening through our client work too.

Thus, it’s good to familiarise yourself with grounding techniques and incorporate grounding activities such as plant care or baking into your routine.

Keep in mind that the levels of anxiety that are currently around and how this might increase your own. At present there is a great deal of global anxiety, national anxiety, and community anxiety on top of our own anxiety! You will know whether a dose of yoga or screaming along to your favourite artist works best for you to work off that tension.

Whichever route you take, it’s important to be gentle to yourself during this unprecedented and super challenging time.

Do something you can control

At present, many of us will be feeling a sense of powerlessness, if this is something we already feel a lot of in our lives then this can feel particularly hard. Doing something we can control can help to reduce this feeling. Could your wardrobe or book collection do with re-sorting? Perhaps gardening might help to create a sense of groundedness and order. Finding a sense of purpose can really help alleviate current sense of powerlessness.

Separate space

If you currently live with other people it can feel hard to feel space and have privacy.  And if you are working from home it’s good to create a distinction wherever you can-usually travelling to and from work gives us this but in working from home we need to be creative. Is there a corner space that you rarely use, that could be turned into a pop up office? If not, could you make a screen around an existing space?  Consider your needs around light, warmth and sound. If you need to block out external noise-consider headphones and white noise affects/machines.

If home is not a safe space for you please remember that support lines are there for you too, not just your clients.

Let the outdoor in

Opening windows and doors daily can really help to reduce feeling restricted to indoors. If you are lucky enough to have outdoor space-try bringing something from outside in-perhaps some flowers for a vase. Tending to flowers and plants in the home can give a real sense of grounding and lift moods.

Experiment with sound and visuals

You can access relaxing visuals and audio online. SleepDroid studios  produce video’s capture the sounds of nature to produce soothing video’s including ‘Foggy Forest rain’.

  • Some people find compiling a list of songs that create a certain feelings helpful, do you need to feel energised? Relaxed? To express pent up emotion?
  • Are you someone who finds beaches relaxing or is it more woodlands for you? Putting pictures up or on your phone and laptop can help you to soothe and restore.
  • Are you a visual person? Try imaging a colour shield around you protecting you from anything harmful. Use a colour you associate with feeling warm and safe.
  • Ever tried colour breathing? It’s a simple method to reduce stress and increase wellbeing. Try breathing in deeply a colour you associate with relaxation/energy and breathing out (as slow as you can) a colour that you link to the less positive emotion you are feeling.

Relax in company

Usually attend a yoga class? Youtube has a host of video’s to help you practice at home. A popular one is ‘Yoga with Adrienne’.  There are tons of fitness classes that have now gone from the studio onto online, so if you can keep active around working.


Headspace is a popular free app providing guided mediations and mindfulness practices. The ‘free mindfullness resource project’  website also offers some great free resources. These include breathing exercises, body scans and guided visualisations including ‘Mountain meditation’.  It’s worth trying out a few to see what works well for you-it may be that you find a narrators voice particularly soothing.

Keep your mind stimulated

Catch up with that book you’ve been meaning for read for ages. Read blogs online of your favourite topic for example, cooking.  Grab that jigsaw puzzle or a crossword magazine. Keep in mind though that it can be very hard to focus and concentrate at the moment.

Be compassionate to yourself

You probably know from client work that many people are feeling a sense of guilt around not being productive or able to help others as much as they want to. This can feel amplified if you are a person who likes to help others and usually has a helping role. It really is important to recognise this feeling is an ordinary response to what is still currently an extraordinary situation. Be kind to yourself as you would to others.

Stay hydrated and eat well

Eating well can feel really challenging when finances and resources are an issue, try to eat as well as you are able to, including some mood food (treats) to keep up morale. Take care around drinking alcohol as it can increase our feelings of stress and/or depression and of course affect our sleep and energy levels too.

Getting exercise

Besides online classes, there are lots of ways to get some exercise indoors. This includes doing housework, dancing, lifting and decorating the house.

Use humour

Watching funny clips or a stand up show/comedy online can be a real respite when times are challenging. Asking friends to send over funny memes can be helpful.  Although it can feel ‘wrong’ to laugh with all that hard and sad things going on, it’s vital to increase lightness in our lives at times like this.

Utilise Supervision

We are encouraged by our professional bodies to attend to our self care and this is not just for our clients benefit but for our own sake. Please do remember also that supervision is not just the place to talk about client work but a place where you can share your own feelings and feel supported and restored.

Remember this too shall pass

It can feel really scary and disappointing-especially if you’ve have had to cancel holidays and breaks. Remember life is on a kind of pause right now and will resume. Remember this too shall pass.

Consider counselling

Remember counselling is a space that we can also access if we need too. It may be during this period it would really help you to talk out your thoughts and fears.

I hope these ideas have felt helpful or useful reminders at least. Do remember that you are a person first and foremost and it’s vital we give ourselves the same care, non-judgemental and support we give to clients.

Image Credit
By studiokiek Licensed under Creative Commons