"Self Care" is a term bandied about as a vague mandate to all mental health (and other helping) professionals. But what is it? And... who has time for that?
I automatically envision sitting in a darkened room filled with the fragrances of eucalyptus and lavender, the sound of waves crashing over hypnotic melodies, and someone gently massaging my feet while I let a mud mask rejuvenate my face and sip cucumber water.
Where I live, that lavish experience would run a few hundred dollars and zap a few hours out of my week. Two commodities I cannot afford to waste. Lucky for me and for you, there are realistic ways to participate in self-care without breaking the bank or your schedule.
Ideas for Realistic Self-Care
Music - Create a few playlists or stations that can help interject energy, calm, or focus.
Create - Draw, paint, write, dance, sing, cook, bake, build, design, choreograph, etc.
Talk it out - We recommend this for our clients, but how often do we do this for ourselves? There's no shame in a therapist receiving counseling. Practice what you preach!
Escapes - Locate those snippets of time throughout your day or week when you can run away physically or mentally to somewhere that revives you. I try to go to the beach at least once per month, but I listen to an audiobook every day (even if just during my commute).
Tap in - Faith can be an effective source of strength. Prayer, meditation, self-edification through fellowship or reading scripture can replenish the soul.
Reach out - Volunteer in a non-therapist role. This is a great way to get better acquainted with your community, model prosocial attitudes, and give back. I often gain new perspectives on my problems when helping others.
Laugh - Playing with your kids or pets, watching funny videos/TV/movies, reminiscing funny memories brings out joy.
Play - Break out of your seriousness and get a little silly. Engage in games, puzzles, crosswords, etc.
Socialize - Grab a cup of coffee, or lunch, or dinner with your significant other, family, or friends. Everybody's gotta eat... you'd be worried about your clients if they didn't do this.
Quiet Time - Shhh... After hours of listening to others talk, put yourself in time out filled with silence (even just 5 minutes). It's like cleansing your palette so your next bite will be more flavorful.
Now you may be thinking, "I'm good" and that you don't need to do this. We are all works in progress and can all improve our self-care game. This might help:
Think about this past week.
What was the most stressful day?
What about it was stressful?
What self-care activities did you engage that day?
What opportunities for self-care were missed?
You owe it to yourself, your family and friends, and your clients to amp up your self-care. That doesn't mean a bigger budget or hacking your schedule to bits. It means practicing self-care that works for you on your schedule.
Need help in this area? We are happy to listen and help you identify strategies that will work for you. No judgment, just support.