Making Time for Therapy

Reader C has a great question about work/life balance — and keeping a standing therapy appointment without being perceived as lazy.  I can’t wait to hear the readers’ tips!  Here’s her question:

Hi! I’m a newer BigLaw associate. The stress of the job has caused my mental health to take a hit and so, I’ve started seeing a therapist with whom I have weekly evening (8 PM) appointments. In most other professions, asking to see a therapist “after hours” would easily be okay, but given the “constant availability” expectations of my firm, I think this may be difficult. Is there a way to firmly, but respectfully carve this hour out for myself once a week without being perceived as lazy?

Great question — I think this is a pretty common thing BigLaw associates go through, and kudos to you for taking care of your mental health. We’ve talked about taking time for frequent doctors’ appointments before, but I don’t think we’ve talked explicitly about making time for therapy and other standing appointments.  Here are some tips:

  • I really believe that most employers really do want you to have a work/life balance — but also to get stuff done. I’d be shocked if people give you too much push back on having the appointment. If and when it comes up with your supervisors, I  don’t even think you need to get into too many details here — just have an apologetic note in your voice when you say, “I have a standing appointment tonight at 8:00, but…”
  • Make yourself available after the appointment as needed, and let people know that.  “I’ll be back in the office at 9:30,” or “I’ll be back on email at 9:30.” Then, do it.  I know therapy sessions can sometimes be emotional, but whatever you say you’re going to do, make sure you do it.  (You may want to check out our discussion a few weeks ago about answering work email at home.)
  • Know your colleagues. If there’s one of your superiors who only starts work at 6PM, you may have to handle him or her in a different way, and be more direct, but also more persistent by reminding them regularly that you’ll be out of pocket, checking in with them as soon as you’re you’re out of the appointment, and possibly even setting up a backup (paralegal? secretary?) who can definitely be available for the whopping 90 minutes you need to yourself.
  • Finally, know the peculiarities of your work schedule. If your work requires you to frequently have a late-night deadline (i.e., if your company has a regular pouch going from NYC to DC on a nightly basis), or if you work with colleagues or clients in a different time zone who are still in full work mode when you’re leaving at 8 PM — then I would strongly consider shifting your therapy appointment to another time, like first thing in the morning. Another option that I know some readers have mentioned is having a therapist who they only see via Facetime/Skype/or on the phone — if you find such a therapist, he or she may offer even later/earlier appointments than 8 PM (or be in a different time zone entirely so the hours are later/earlier than a local therapist could offer.)

Ladies, for those of you who go to therapy or other standing appointments, how do you make time for the appointment and let your colleagues know? What kind of pushback have you come up against, and how have you dealt with it? 

Pictured.

A Marriage Mindset, Overachieving Chicks, and the Patels

Marriage Mindsets, Determination, and MoreI recently watched Meet The Patels on Netflix. (I recommend!) The romantic comedy documentary talks a lot about “marriage mindset,” and I thought it might make an interesting discussion over here. If you haven’t seen it, 30-year-old Indian-American actor Ravi Patel agrees to do everything he can for one year to find a wife the way his Indian parents want, including biodata, online dating, Indian weddings, and even attending an Indian marriage convention. His parents accuse him throughout the documentary of not having a “marriage mindset” — of going into the thing with doubts and hesitations and expectations that are too high. (Here’s a nice NPR article about it, and here’s the trailer on YouTube.)

Of course, in case it needs to be said: marriage is not essential to happiness or success, either in an “official document” kind of way or a long-term relationship (“LTR”) kind of way. In fact, for my own $.02, I’ve always had the mindset that I’d rather be by myself than with the wrong person.  In my teens and 20s this meant I didn’t date a lot and wasn’t in too many LTRs — I had other stuff to do, was happy with my life, and didn’t see any urgency to finding someone. Looking back, I think I saw a lot of girlfriends spend too much energy on the wrong guy (sometimes to the detriment of school and career), and unconsciously stepped back from the whole arena, with the idea that I would welcome love if it happened, but I wasn’t going to put myself out there and force something.

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Tales from the Wallet: How to Make a Budget

how to make a budgetFor today’s money feature, let’s discuss living within your means — how to make a budget and stick to a budget. What does “budget” mean to you? What tips and tricks have you used to set a budget, pay down debt, save money and protect against lifestyle inflation — and what alarm bells have you used to tell you that it’s time to reassess? 

The No-Budget Budget

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think every person needs to make a budget — there were years in BigLaw where I would automatically move my second paycheck to savings/investments, living entirely off my first paycheck (and auto-contributing to my 401k). That was enough of a “budget” to me, with no further thought. I knew then and know now I was lucky in those years, and I’m still so grateful for them — that simple decision has laid a great groundwork for me and for my family.

Pictured: MICHAEL Michael Kors ‘Jet Set’ Travel Wallet, on sale for 40% off in purple; at full price in several other colors.

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Morning Routines for Successful People

morning routines for successful peopleI’ve seen a TON of posts and articles lately on morning routines for successful people. But a lot of times I come away from these articles frustrated because they set such ridiculous standards. Send 10 networking emails every morning! Read four newspapers! Get 90 minutes of exercise in! So I thought we’d discuss. I’ll admit I’m not always the greatest in the morning (this is such an understatement that my husband is dying laughing as I write this), but even I’ve found a few useful ways to hack my mornings and make them better. So let’s discuss: what do YOU do? What is your morning routine, and do you attribute it to your success at work or in life? (#Winning, right?)

A few notes from me:

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10 Ways to Make Time for Friends When You Work a Lot

How to Make Time for Friends When You Work a Lot | CorporetteIt’s tough to find enough time for friends if you have a demanding job — when you have a really busy schedule, making sure you socialize and maintain relationships requires some creative problem-solving and planning. While we’ve discussed how to fit in basic things like planning meals and cooking, doing household chores, scheduling appointments, and working out, we haven’t talked about how to fit a social calendar into a busy life in a while. Let’s chat about it today!

We’ve rounded up several suggestions from Corporette readers on making time for friends when your schedule is tight:

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“I’m Exhausted” — How to Investigate When You Have No Energy (An Open Thread)

exhausted-no-energySomething I hear more and more these days is that people are exhausted and have no energy.  You can say what you want about information overload, device mania, etc — to say nothing for those of us with small kids, where it’s generally accepted that exhaustion is par for the course — but the fact is that for some people, there are actually things that medicine can do to help.  But even when you admit to yourself that it’s time to seek help, there are a million different routes to go down — and for friends I’ve seen seek help, it seems like doctors often need to be convinced there’s a medically-related problem. I thought it might be helpful to have a discussion for those of you who’ve gone down the huge topic that is energy and exhaustion — what did you research, what tests did you take, what doctors did you see?  Did you find resolution? How did you function at work and in life in the meantime?

For example, I know any of these could be possible answers to a constant exhaustion: [Read more…]