S3E5 Hiatus Self Care

Have you missed the  doctors? Well, they missed you more! Dr. Pete and Dr. Rubin have been grinding, which means that they needed to take a break. Tune in to learn the importance of boundaries and self-care professionally and personally. They explain the importance of self-compassion, mindfulness, spirituality, and explain the need to take a break. Do not worry. Dr. Pete and Dr. Rubin will be back soon with riveting episodes linking eastern spirituality with western spiritual practices.


Pete: Well, Nikki, it's again, been a long time and I have missed you.


Nikki: I've missed you too. Well, everyone should know. Wait, Pete and I have talked not on this podcast.


Pete: But still not enough for me.


Nikki: Still not enough for me. Yeah.


Pete: Yeah. Well, welcome back and to our listeners we wanted just to check in, say what's up. And then, you know, I think we're going to take another hiatus and just to kind of talk a little bit about what psychologists do and why we might need and benefit from a hiatus.


Nikki: Yeah. And you know, I think when we first introduce this we'd said we're going to go down to every other week. And then Pete and I schedules got in the way,  we realized we had a conversation where we're like, Hmm, this does not seem very workable right now. We talk a lot about workability on this podcast and we also let you guys know that we really live what we preach, you know?


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: And so, here's an example of that is that, when something isn't working you have to be willing to shift and to pivot. And so, you know, we really love doing this podcast, and we're definitely not ending it.


Pete: So we're not abandoning anything.


Nikki: We're not abandoning anything. But we did realize we need to take an extended hiatus until we have space to have room for this. Because, we don't want to keep trying to force a square peg into a round hole, which is the opposite of workable.


Pete: The opposite of workable, opposite of mindfulness. I think maybe what we'll do during this hiatus is also like, figure out the best day and time. It's interesting I'm even dealing with that. And I think one of the things we'll talk about today is some of our multiple roles that we have professionally. And so one of the roles I'm a part of is the big east sports psychology provider group. And we were looking to find a day and time that worked to meet, and we had landed on Friday afternoon, and then every Friday afternoon, which was once a month more than just one person, people just couldn't make it for whatever reason.  So now we're like going back to the drawing board to find out which day and which timeframe works best so, for our listeners, Nikki, I think I'm writing this, we often would record on a Friday.


Nikki: Well, we would record on a Friday that became our sort of extra, however, everyone should, Pete and I try not to work on Fridays. 


Pete: I don't like to work on Fridays.


Nikki: Yeah. I don't see patients on Fridays. 


Pete: So we went to Mondays


Nikki: Yeah. And we had a scheduled time on Mondays that we would record however, we both got really busy. And I do think it's important, like what Pete's bringing up to explain like how psychologists can have multiple roles. Of course anybody in any kind of career can have multiple roles. But I think what's kind of interesting about being a psychologist is that, you know, and one thing that I really like about this type of work is there are so many different kinds of jobs that we can do in our role as psychologists. Like you can of course limit it to one thing, there are psychologists that are just research psychologists, or psychologists that are just therapists.


Pete: Right.


Nikki: Most psychologists that I know do act in numerous roles actually.


Pete: Absolutely. Yeah, me too.


Nikki: Yeah. So while that keeps things really interesting,  it also ends up can oftentimes becoming a bit of a liability when it is related to maintaining our energy levels right?


Pete: Yes.


Nikki: And so, I think it's important to say, as I've said many times in this podcast, we can become rigidly attached to anything as humans, even things like variability or flexibility. So, as a psychologist, there's so much room to be flexible and do all kinds of things and have a lot of variability. However, if you are so attached to doing lots of different things at some point, that's going to stop working and you're going to need to pause and sort of reassess.


Pete: Yeah. And that's what we're doing because it just got to that point. So like, I'll just talk, so multiple roles. So you know, professor Rutgers, I also oversee the behavioral health at Rutgers and Seton Hall and  a couple other sports organizations. And so it's just been March Madness, which maybe there's a listener out there who's familiar with that. And so while the teams I worked directly with were out in the first round. One of the teams was the Cinderella story, which I actually thought would be a really cool episode. Because you know the Cinderella story, right? 


Nikki: You mean in general?


Pete: Especially related to basketball.


Nikki: I do not know it in relation to basketball.


Pete: Wait, really?


Nikki: No, I'm not a basketball fan. 


Pete: I know but you're a sports fan. 


Nikki: Well, I like sports. I'm a crazy Dodger fan, I love baseball. I like basketball, but I don't like follow it and I don't follow college.


Pete: So then there's a good fact checking of assumptions right there,  because I did have the thought that like everyone knows the Cinderella story in March Madness, but I guess they don't. So for those listeners who don't, it's just that there's always like one team, like one university across the country out of the 64 that are selected that goes further than expected.


Nikki: It's just like an underdog story.


Pete: It's a total underdog story.


Nikki: Yeah, sure.


Pete: You can get with that.


Nikki: Yeah, yeah. For sure, I love an underdog story.


Pete: It's just what happens with an Underdog story this year with St. Peter's University out of Jersey City, New Jersey, which as you know, Nikki  that's where I lived when we met.


Nikki: Yes, that's right.


Pete: I lived there for a long time and I have, you know, strong affiliations with the university. In particular, the head coach he and I went to school together so we're cool like that. And so I've been cheering him on really his whole career, both as a player and now as a coach. So it was just cool to kind of be a part of that. So that's a lot of what has like you know, hijacked my schedule recently. That's one of the many roles. 


Nikki: And that's by the way very cool, very exciting that's going on. But you know, I think it might be helpful then to explain a little bit more about like, what your roles are. So you're like mentioning you're a professor. You run the payroll program. You're a clinician, but I don't think that that really captures like what you're doing day-to-day. Like maybe you can say a little bit more. I'm laughing because it sounds like we're defending our decision to listeners, like, you know guys, we're really super busy, but we need this hiatus. I do think it's important that you brought it up it, it is just helpful to understand like what it looks like. I don't think a lot of people know sort of like what we do with our day, you know?


Pete: Well the thought that I keep having, and I guess I remember learning this is that like, oftentimes clients think that they're sort of like the only client we have.


Nikki: Oh yeah.


Pete: It's like a thing, right? 


Nikki: Or, I think that they think we're more available. Like I think sometimes, you know, I have on my voicemail for example, that I get back to people's messages within 24 to 48 business hours and I try to get back within 24. However, if I'm back to back with patients all day or if I’m in an emergency, I might not be able to call you back for a little bit, you know?


Pete: That's right. Yeah. So the professor role means that I do like research, I do some grant writing. I do some like course scheduling and you know, I teach and I advise graduate students. And so every day looks different, which is what I like about what I do.  And so yes, we're defending our decision for hiatus No, I am not complaining because the majority of my days of work I mostly love.


Nikki: Yes. Well, again, because variability, if that's something a person values you know, then that's mostly going to be workable. And values also were originally attached to a value at some point that's going to become unworkable.


Pete: Correct.


Nikki: So, I'm similar to you in that I also love variability and it's very interesting to me. It's very stimulating to be doing different things and be in different modes and there comes a time where it's like my attention is being pulled in time in too many directions and I just can't be effective. And if anything, it's like, at least for myself, I can just speak personally here, that historically I've been somebody that I haven't always been skilled at listening to when I'm needing to take a pause on something. I can become rigidly attached to, you know, variability or showing up for people. And so, you know, when Pete and I had this conversation, it's like I just started to notice like the inklings of like, I think this isn't working and in the past I would've blown past it.


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: I would've just gone like, that's fine. Like, I'm going to make this work, I'm going to put this into our schedule and I share that with listeners for you to know again that psychologists are humans too. [Crosstalk 09:32]. 


Pete: I'm going to say that it was probably hard for you to even say that to me.


Nikki: It was. Though I will say that this is where I was like, oh, good job Nikki, you've evolved in this area because I also didn't feel afraid to talk to you about it. And I also didn't feel guilty about it.


Pete: Yeah.


Nikki: Whereas in the past, you know, we've talked about this in our guilt episode, justified versus unjustified guilt. I would've felt unjustified guilt that even though my intuition and my wise mind saying, you need to slow down on this, I would've blown past it. And I didn't, I just was like, yeah, I got to listen to myself here.


Pete: And that's why we're showing up for ourselves because like, we have to put our mask on first and so in order for us to do our job well, we have to be healthy.  And if we are blowing past those signals we become unhealthy and I think that's important.  And so yeah, any day of the week I could be in a different office. And so in any day of the week I have an option of about seven or eight different offices. Again, not a complaint But it certainly gets things a little confusing. 


Nikki: Yes. 


Pete: Where I don't know where things are sometimes because it can be in any one of seven or eight offices. But again, that's a privilege that I have and it's something I like. And so, on some days I could be seeing private practice clients what might look like some professionals executives, you know, professional athletes. On other days I could be seeing some of the student athletes, I could be working with teams. So I could be doing team workshops where I have an entire roster that I'm responsible to have some kind of curriculum. And so that's where I've been feeling some of my energy being pulled because I'm trying to be creatively engaging.  So what do you think about the creative engagement, Nikki?


Nikki: I like that phrasing quite a bit. Creative engagement, well I think it's also related to variability so I'm thinking, you know, there's a stimulating quality it's the difference and I think it is important to say it's okay if you're a listener and you think, I don't like that. Like there are people that don't like variability, they actually like predict more value.


Pete: Yeah, go in at nine.


Nikki: Yeah. Go in five. They like the predictability and more structure and that's okay too.


Pete: Absolutely.


Nikki: So I think it's important to say it's not like what Pete and I are suggesting is that this is the best way to be a psychologist or this is the best way to be a person. It's that this type of career has a lot of opportunities for variability and flexibility though that's not required right. And so, like I said, that's why I think a lot of psychologists I know do like it because that's probably one thing they're drawn to about the field. In addition to helping people it's like there's a lot of just options for doing different things where there's other careers. Where, you know, like there isn't as much room for that.


Pete: Yeah, exactly. Because we could do research, we could do teaching, we could do clinical applied work, we could do organizational systems work, we could work within schools.  You know, there's really consulting, I mean there's so much more.


Nikki: There are all kinds of things. 


Pete: All kinds of stuff. Yeah.


Nikki: Yeah. And I will say Pete has actually a lot more variability than I, I do have a fair amount of variability but you wear more hats than I than I do.


Pete: But you also have more autonomy than I do.


Nikki: That's true.


Pete: So maybe speak about your day and why you have more autonomy or independence.


Nikki: Yeah, because I am primarily a clinician. That's my main role is working as a therapist so, I run my own private practice so then anything else that I do it's just whether I want to do it or not, basically. So, you know, I'm affiliated with UCLA, I'm an assistant clinical professor there, which, it's a very generous title they give us, which really means I'm a supervisor. I train a student a year in acceptance of commitment therapy. I also sometimes, like I just did a 10 week process teaching group, experiential learning group in act [crosstalk 13:37].


Pete: Which I believe really interfering with our schedule.


Nikki: She does.


Pete: So student, you better really know what the gem you just got.


Nikki: I was like, but I really love doing this. I know I've got to do it.


Pete: I know. Well they're so lucky to have you.


Nikki: Oh, that's very sweet. I mean this, I'm lucky to work with them and some really amazing you know psychologists in training coming into the field. 


Pete: [Crosstalk 14:04] their number.


Nikki: Well, I always say, you think I'm joking, but I can't wait to refer to you all, so once you’re licensed.


Pete: I was thinking for myself.


Nikki:  That to. So, I do that and then, I mean it's really supervision, but I love the training. It’s probably my most favorite thing, so I also do training for licensed clinicians. So I do consultation for licensed clinicians, sometimes it's like a onetime consultation, sometimes its ongoing when they want training in ACT or some kind of third wave CBT treatment. I do online trainings for people to, they're called continue education credits, I do those. So, I'm creating new courses, I also do consulting, not consultation, but I do some consulting for businesses. Oh, not to mention, I guess I have a psychotherapy suite that I rent out. 


Pete: Right. You're a landlord, very entrepreneurial.


Nikki: I'm a landlord. Yes. I'm very entrepreneurial. So yeah, I like to have my hands in different things because I think that's interesting. And I like to you know think of different ways to connect to psychology, but also I'm interested in entrepreneurship, so like that as well, and the podcast is one of those things, you know? When, Pete and I talked about doing this that’s what we've mentioned really, Pete saying you wanted to do it. And I was feeling very reluctantly pulled along. But have very glad that we chose to do it and will return to it. You know, part of that of course, as I've shared, was because it felt very vulnerable to me. But the other reason was because my schedule is busy and I think both Pete and I especially given what we went through in our own training, really want to protect our own personal time. And so that's something that's very, very important to me. And as I mentioned a few minutes ago, I wasn't always as skilled at that. And so, you know, and this is where the mindfulness part comes in, right. Like I'm very aware and paying attention to am I coming up on my edge or am I using more gas on my tank than I want to be using? 


Pete: Yeah, keeps them in the reserves.


Nikki: Yeah. And because it clinical work I see a lot of patients.


Pete: Yeah. And, for our listeners, I mean it requires a lot of energy, that clinical work, which is a lot of why I don't do a ton of it In all honesty. But I know you always love the mindfulness contextual behaviorism. And I think that'll also be important because contextually we started this during the pandemic you know, which there was much more home time.


Nikki: Yes. 


Pete: And as scary as it was and how unknown it was, how brave of us to start it during that, which is part of our tagline of ‘Be present, be brave’ because you know, it was so much uncertainty but now, as the world returns or as we sort of returning...


Nikki: It’s a very active way of saying it, I love that. 


Pete: Returning.


Nikki: Returning. Yeah. 


Pete: We find ourselves with less time in our schedules because we're out and about. You know, we are trying to like refuel up because the pandemic certainly took a lot of our gas out of the tank as well. 


Nikki: Yes. 


Pete:  And so this is another sort of gesture towards that.


Nikki: Yeah. And, this is, I hope can serve as a model just in general for people, but I think, you know, one thing we have to be really mindful of a psychologist, what Pete's talking about is, you know, our job is about showing up for other people and holding space for other people that are suffering and helping them. And so, like what Pete mentioned earlier, like, we need to put a mask on first. If you didn't catch that, you know, he’s referring to like the mask on an airplane, right. Like an oxygen mask, right. Like that's what they say on the airplane. Like, you need to put your oxygen mask on first before helping somebody like a child or someone who needs assistance next. And you know, that's really true for all of us, like, that's not just relevant to being a psychologist. It's relevant to everybody. And, you know, I think a lot about, and I train students this way too, that if you want to have a long career and it's values-based for you to contribute and help other people, then you got to be around to be able to do that. Like, if you burn out, you are actually not going to be able to live your values in that way. So that does mean slowing down, setting boundaries, saying no to certain things, taking a break from certain things. And that's what we're doing here. And so, you know, I do think it's important to be clear, we are not canceling the podcast. Both Pete and I really enjoy doing this and sharing this information with you all. But I don't know, my guess would be is like, maybe we'll come back in the summer. That's kind of what I'm thinking, right?


Pete: Yeah. I mean, if we want to really have this live.


Nikki: Yeah, we are. I'm going forward. I'm thinking out loud.


Pete: I love your spontaneity, Nikki. Yeah, I mean, I'm thinking similarly. I think what we wanted to do is at least get out there to be like, hey folks, like we're around, we're here still. I'm actually going to suggest that we probably schedule something like next month so that we have some of the bank. And because scheduling is so tough, because then we're also in the summer going to want to be doing more self-care. Because as psychologists especially those in academia, they usually disappear in the summer.  I often we, you know, completing dissertations or other things in the summer.


Nikki: Sure. Yeah. You get a little space in that area. Not necessarily in the clinical work area.


Pete: August is always known to be like a little desert land.


Nikki: Well, on the East Coast.


Pete: On the East coast, yeah.


Nikki: That's a cultural context thing. Well just for, you know, fun historical fact for listeners, because it's New York. Well, I don't know actually in other east coast places, but it's New York. Because it was that all the psychoanalyst would like go away for the month of August, that was like a thing and so yeah. But here it's like people kind of go like, it's staggered it's not like August or in the summer even. It's not like a ghost town in August.


Pete: Right, because then we're just trying to get the weather or it might just be a work ethic too. Like a varying cultural contextual aspects to this but I'm glad that we put this out there. We'll talk about that more, but just for listeners to know, this is see you later not goodbye And you know, thanks for checking in and we'll see you guys soon. So check out, you know, make sure to like us, follow us on, you know, apple, Spotify, wherever you listen to podcasts. So this way when we do publish our next episode, you'll be made aware. See you soon. This has been When East Meets West. I'm Dr. Pete Economou.


Nikki: And I'm Dr. Nikki Rubin. Be present. Be brave.


Pete: This has been When East Meets West, all material is based on opinion and educational training of doctors. Pete Economou and Nikki Rubin.


Nikki: Content is for informational and educational purposes only.