This content was created by Girlboss, in collaboration with BetterHelp.
Therapy in a post(ish)-COVID world is strange. Thanks to the flexibility of WFH and hybrid schedules, our personal and professional lives have become much more blurred. We take showers at 11 a.m., pop out for quick grocery runs in between meetings and book therapy appointments on our lunch breaks. Thanks to virtual therapy services like BetterHelp, you can go from a 1:1 with your boss to a 1:1 with your therapist and back to another client touch-base call in just a few clicks. Sure, it’s convenient (no more commuting to your therapist’s office), but that time traveling to and from the appointment gave us the space to decompress.
Personally, I can’t imagine having my therapy sessions during work hours. I typically have them at 5 p.m. and change my Slack status to “ 🧠 in therapy (DND).” A few weeks ago, I had one after work and I left the call with snot running down my nose and tears stains splattered on my cheeks. I felt amazing and exhausted. But I don’t think I could just casually blow my nose, wash my face and continue on with my work day. I’ve often canceled plans because I was just too emotionally drained—forget about being productive. So, I wondered: How do people do it?
“I like being able to get things off my chest first thing in the morning because I feel like I can truly get on with the rest of my day without this ‘thing’ hanging over me,” says one reader, who books their therapy sessions at 9 a.m. Adds another: “I love the flexibility of being able to schedule my therapy sessions within my workday. I schedule it in my Outlook every week as ‘Focus Time’ and am able to be more consistent with my therapy journey. Absolutely love it.”
But it’s important to differentiate between a 15-minute meditation with your energy healer, where you leave feeling energized and reset, and an hour-long therapy session where you dive deep into difficult topics that leave you in a raw, vulnerable state. That’s why I personally wait until the end of the day, so I have the space and time to go for a walk, reflect on what was discussed and set myself up for a quiet evening. It turns out, a lot of our readers agree.
“I've tried scheduling therapy during the lunch hour, but I found it difficult to switch from work mode to very personal mode and then back to work,” one reader tells us. Another one uses their post-therapy state of mind to their advantage: “I have shown up to work meetings right after therapy and felt drained, but I shared how I was feeling with the people I was meeting with and was met with nothing but empathy and compassion. It’s not easy but it pushes me to continue to create more self-awareness about mental health at work, especially because I am a leader.”
Interested in carving out time for your mental health during the work day, but worried that your boss will schedule a meeting at the same time as your session, or that you’ll be judged by your boss? Massoma Alam Chohan, an industrial and organizational psychologist and the author of Take Your Lunch Break: Helpful Tips for Relieving Work-Related Stress, has some advice. “If you don't feel comfortable disclosing to your boss that you are doing therapy during the work day, you can simply say, ‘I have an appointment.’ You are not obligated to let your employer know,” she says. Of course, this is easier if you work from home (just block it off in your calendar and leave some time for decompressing afterwards with some meditation, a body scan, a walk to clear your mind, writing in your journal or a bath).
For those who have to physically leave their desk for their virtual appointment, Chohan recommends reserving a conference room for your session, or taking it at a coffee shop across the street. “If you don't ask, the answer will always be ‘no,’” says Chohan. “Make sure you communicate clearly and hold your boundaries so you are taken more seriously.”
Still uncertain? With workplaces of 15 or more workers, the Americans With Disabilities Act protects employees from being fired or being denied professional advancement simply because of mental health issues. The law requires employers to work with you to make the appropriate accommodations to help you do your job. “That can mean things like modifying your work schedule and allowing you to schedule your therapy appointments around work,” says Chohan.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what time you choose to carve out for your mental health, but that it happens to begin with. “Early mornings might be best for busy executives who want to offload and feel more focused on the tasks of the day,” says Chohan. “Evenings might be better for those who need more time to process after sessions and unwind. Daytime sessions might be best for parents who are busy in the mornings and evenings with their kiddos.”
Ready to take control of your mental health—no matter what time of day? BetterHelp, the world’s largest virtual therapy service, matches you with a licensed, professional therapist and makes an appointment for you in less than 48 hours. No waitlist. More affordability, accessibility and flexibility. With a monthly subscription, you’ll get unlimited access to webinars, journaling tools and plenty of resources to start your 2023 off right. Girlboss subscribers get 25% off using this link.