As much as it resonates for us to encourage our clients to incorporate daily acts of self-care, it can often be a challenge for us to practice what we preach. We are trained to maintain an outward focus so we can constantly track our clients’ verbal and non-verbal communication as well as the subtleties of their ever-shifting emotional states. And yet the most effective therapists and the ones who are the least likely to burnout over time are able to hold a dual awareness: simultaneously noticing what’s going on for the client and what’s going on for themselves. Although it’s not appropriate for us to tend to our personal needs during a session, it is appropriate to keep ourselves grounded, alert, and safe, while committing to addressing our deeper emotional and physical needs in between sessions and when we are not in our offices. Here are 10 ways to increase self-care, and in the process protect our efficacy as clinicians:
- Say “no” more often. This might mean limiting the number of challenging cases in your practice, turning off the TV or computer and going to sleep earlier, or redefining the boundaries with an overly demanding friend or family member.
- Don’t skip meals, eat nutritious foods, enjoy what you eat, and eat without guilt.
- Pause many times throughout the day and just savor the present moment. Breath a little slower and a little deeper.
- Everyday, acknowledge something you are grateful for in your life.
- Allow yourself to lean on and receive the goodness of others. Accept a safe hug or a compliment. Don’t turn down a loved one’s offer to help or listen. Delegate.
- Find a form of exercise that you actually enjoy. Start slow. Keep your expectations reasonable and set yourself up to succeed.
- Put an act of self-care on your calendar and treat it like you honor your scheduled appointments with clients.
- Play more. Laugh more. Hang out with a pet or an adorable baby. They are all about the present, joyful moment!
- Go for right-brain based activities: dance, scribble, listen to music, color a mandala, find a soothing scent.
- Make self-caring choices from your wisest and most compassionate part. That part of you is willing and able to embrace acts of self-care!
What would you add to this list?