Therapy for change. Things happen. How we experience them at the time doesn’t have to remain fixed. (See: why do situations get you anxious?) Since the lockdown started I have had time to reflect on myself and experience. In other words to practice what therapists tend to neglect – self-care.
Self-care is not selfish.
Firstly, self care is not selfish. Secondly, how can we care for others if we don’t care for ourselves. It’s not only therapists who are found wanting in the ‘looking after oneself’ department. How many people do you know who are always running around after others whilst neglecting themselves? Burnout is not far. Burnout chases people towards burnout.
The World Health Organization defines self care as:
‘the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider’. (WHO)
When lockdown 1 came I had to re-evaluate my working practices. Most of my sessions were face to face. However, I had been taking some sessions online. For instance, if a client was housebound it was beneficial to conduct sessions online. Likewise, the flexibility online sessions gave was a positive factor for those with time constraints. All for the benefit of the client.
Lockdown 1 meant face to face sessions were not possible. That is to say, all sessions were online. A new way of working and extra training. I was busy moving my practice online. Busy, busy, busy.
Whilst rushing around to pivot the practice a thought struck me: ‘I need to take better care of myself’. I had been helping others to take care of themselves for years. Now it was time to ‘take care of my own self’.
I have put together a list of suggestions which may help you. a sort of introduction to self-care:
- Break out from your four walls – if you can. Even if it’s just into your garden, if you have one. Maybe take a trip to a park. Remember the Rule of 6 and social distancing
- Help out neighbours. Volunteer. Altruistic therapy. Probably not a ‘thing’ – but should be. Maybe not totally altruistic. However, others benefit and it could give a boost to your self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Stress is a killer. We know that. Stress can present as physical symptoms. For example: headaches or dizziness; muscle tension or pain; stomach problems; chest pain or a faster heartbeat; sexual problems (NHS).
- Mindfulness. ‘Those who learn its techniques often say they feel less stress, think clearer’ (The Harvard Gazette). I have put a link to a book I have found useful personally and with clients at the bottom of the page.
- Diet. Try to eat more fruit and veg – if you can. The health benefits of eating more fruit and veg – or drinking – if you have a liquidiser are well reported. Better general health can lead to better mental health
- Sleep. Strange but true. If a person is stressed they may find it hard to get and stay asleep. The night is generally too quiet. Not a lot to distract the thoughts that start whirring. The falling asleep just before the alarm goes off. Lack of sleep can lead to lower productivity, lower concentration and being ‘snippy’.
- Move away from too much … stuff! I know that I feel better after I’ve got rid of items I no longer need. Consequently, I can be more productive and better organised which leads to … less stress!
- Be digitally unsocial. Escape the pings and rings. Turn off and tune out. These days these world is in our pockets. Leave it there if only for a short while. Taking a digital break, a ‘circuit break’ if you will, helps us to feel a bit less overwhelmed. Most importantly, it really is o.k. to take a break now and then. Recharge your batteries not your phones.
To sum up, take time for yourself. Self-care = others care. If we don’t take care of ourselves we will not be able to take care of others. Taking care of others is a good thing. A good thing all the better for being based on a strong foundation of looking after yourself.
The book link above is an affiliate link. That is to say I’ll get a teeny, weeny commission if you buy it. However, I will not link to a product I haven’t used and found value in. Just saying.