Self-care Is Not Just For Our Clients
Once, a counselor told me: “counselors are great at telling our clients to practice self-care but bad at practicing it ourselves.” I have found that to be very true. Earlier in the week, after sessions full of encouraging clients that they should prepare but not panic about COVID-19, I found myself having difficulty sitting mindfully in the unknown.
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self indulgent.
Caring for myself is an act of survival.”— Audre Lorde
Why Mental Health Professionals Need To Practice Self-Care
Professionals should know that self-care is not just spa days and vacations. True self care that we can practice on a daily basis does not cost anything. Just because we don’t have the budget to get a massage every month (although I find it helps a lot if I do!) it does not mean we cannot practice self-care.
Self-care is taking an active role in our own good health and mental well being. This is important on a daily basis but especially during times of physical illness or stress.
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Maya Angelou
Practice What You Teach
Working with people at difficult times in their lives can be extremely stressful. Stress is often called “the silent killer” because it contributes to many underlying health conditions that can go unnoticed. Stress is often what leads us to overeat, under exercise, zone out as a way of relaxing, and mentally check out of our personal lives in a way that can become unhealthy. It can lead to heart disease, obesity, depression, anxiety, GI problems, and many other chronic health concerns. One of the best ways to combat stress is to practice self-care.
Daily self-care involves taking care of our physical and mental needs in a loving way. It means putting ourselves first in a way that many counselors and therapists may find difficult at first.
Some people, often women, feel that taking care of themselves is selfish. This could not be further from the truth! We can’t take care of others if we are not first healthy ourselves.
Daily Self-Care Includes Things Like:
These are just a few ways that you can begin to make self-care a bigger priority in your life.
You Deserve The Same Energy You Give To Others
It may be counter-intuitive that a time of so much uncertainty is the most important time to practice better self-care. However, when you are out of your routine – working from home, the kids not in school, self-quarantined, it is actually the perfect time to disrupt the status quo by doing something different. The time and energy that you give others is important, but just as important is giving that same time and energy to yourself. We are trying to prevent getting sick, and taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do to prevent illness.
What are some ways that you practice self-care?
Please share in the comments below!
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, Including you.”
– Anne Lamott
Stacey Aldridge, LCSW
Stacey is a therapist in private practice in the Jackson, MS area. She practices self-care by meal prepping every Sunday, spending time with her dogs, and playing the game “Gardenscapes” on her phone. If you are interested in learning more about Stacey’s practice please visit her website.