Everybody’s “trophy case” will look a little bit different. In this doodle, I illustrate four examples of good day trophies:
Notes & Cards. A box of encouraging notes, cards, or official mail marking positive events.
Digital Album. A digital album of reminders of good work that you have done. For therapists, this can be a little tougher than for teachers or other professions that don’t handle personal health information; however, with a little creativity, even a digital photo album can be appropriately anonymized.
Journaling. A journal with a section dedicated to writing about really good days can be a powerful antidote to bad days.
A Person. A good day trophy can even be someone that we trust to hold memories with us. With a coworker or supervisor who can kindly remind us that we can do good work, and in fact have many times previously, (ideally with specific examples as reminders) we can more easily affirm our skills when burnout begins to creep in.
Download a Copy of this Art
This PDF download set includes two 8×11 sets of the image (four pages total): one set on a white background and one set on a blue background.
One of the most insidious symptoms of burnout is its ability to convince us that we aren’t really good at what we do, and that our labor doesn’t make a difference.
Recently, as I was reviewing a text written for therapists just starting out in this work, I came across a passage from a veteran mental health counselor who recommended that therapists keep a journal specifically to record their thoughts and feelings on days that went really well. 1
Looking back on these memories, Rosenthal writes, can help remind us that the work we do matters and we are, in fact pretty okay at it.
In neurobiological terms, today we know writing something down (or, alternately, creating art about that thing) helps encode information in our brain in a powerful way. In other words, when we take time to creatively record something, we remember it more vividly, and with better recall.
Rosenthal’s tip inspired this doodle of a “good day trophy case.” This kind of mental marking can be helpful for many of us at all different stages of life, but may be especially helpful for people in helping professions like therapists, nurses, or even teachers – careers where “wins” don’t usually come in the form of plaques, trophies, or even certificates. Flipping through our own personal private store of (anonymized, as appropriate!) records of our best work can bring a powerful emotional boost when a series of rough days, weeks, or months begins to take on the flavor of burnout.
Uses Beyond Anti-Burnout
“Good day trophy cases” – whatever that looks like for you – can be helpful for both professional and personal lives. For many people struggling with the symptoms of a mental illness, it can be hard to remember that there have been good days in the past and there will be again in the future.
For some individuals in recovery or who are struggling with a chronic mental illness, creating their own “good day trophy case” might be a powerful intervention. By recording thoughts and feelings on good days, saving notes and documents that are encouraging, dedicating a specific digital folder to happy experiences, and trusting someone (perhaps someone listed on our crisis plan) to remind us of days, we can create a personal record of positive memories we can revisit whenever we need to.
The first image is on a blue background. Black handwritten text at the top center reads, “Examples of Good Day Trophies.”
In the top left is a drawing of a journal with blue binding. There are scribbled words on the pages with a pencil poised to write more. Below this drawing is black handwritten text that reads, “A journal with a section for good days.”
Below this is a drawing of a dark skin-tone hand holding a digital device with pictures displayed on the screen is above black handwriting that reads, “A digital album of reminders of good work you’ve done.”
In the top right, underneath a drawing of notecards and mail next to a mail box, black handwriting reads, “A box of encouraging notes/cards/mail.”
Below this is a drawing of two heads. One is smiling with a speech bubble above their head that has a blue heart in it. The other person’s head is downturned with a sad expression on their face. Below them is black, handwritten text that reads, “A good supervisor or coworker who can remind us of past good work.”
The second image is a drawing of a white trophy case with four shelves in a room with blue walls and blue floors. There are various trophies, awards, and storage boxes on the shelves. Underneath the case is black handwritten text that reads, “Keeping a ‘trophy closet’ of ‘wins’ can keep us going on hard days.”
- Rosenthal H. (2022). Before you see your first client : 55 things counselors therapists and human service workers need to know (Classic). Routledge. Retrieved October 10 2022 from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781003169048.