As we turn the page from 2016 to 2017, it may never have been more apparent, that we need so desperately to focus on our self-care. As a therapist, this is such a key term; ‘self-care’, we all know that it is important but often times put it aside, or think that it is much more that what it needs to be. I remember when meeting with clinician, who were worn down by too many cases, too much paperwork and too many meetings, asking them about their self-care. And nearly 100% of the time, they would laugh and say, yeah, right, I guess one day I will get a massage, or do my nails, or start that yoga class. But I knew that one day would very likely never come, and if it did, that would be it, a one day deal.
Why? All of those things sound amazing, who wouldn’t want them? Well, as a clinician myself trying to raise a family on the little reimbursement we would receive and the long hours of work, the goal was too lofty. All of those activities take money, time, and a lot of both. So, I began a quest to figure out what is self-care, and how can we really make it a part of our lives.
Self-care, isn’t just important for therapist and others whose job it is to take care of other human beings (cue all the SAHM, who I have undying respect for). Self-care is for every human no matter their age or occupation. All of us, even my little kindergartener has a to-do list miles long, and let’s be honest it will never end. Whenever we check something off, we add another 2 things that we feel like must get done.
So, step one: Stop It! Stop it with the never-ending lists. Yes, dishes need to be cleaned, but not right now, that report that is due has to get done, but it can wait 5 minutes to give yourself a mental break. Self-care does not have to be a major commitment, and what works for one person does not mean it will work for you. Example: the idea of sitting in a salon for hours, sounds like torture to me, but for others, it’s a rejuvenating experience.
Next, if you have no clue where to start, browse the list below of some ideas for self-care and try them out. If you feel good afterward great, if not, move on to the next. If you just can’t seem to find anything, take a walk down memory lane and think about what you loved to do as a kid, and give it a try again.
Finally, schedule yourself in. Make an ongoing appointment with yourself every day. It doesn’t have to be an hour, it could be a 10-minute break, where you really take a break, no phones, computer etc. Completely unplug and do whatever fills you up for those 10 minutes. For my nursing friends and others who work in a place where a break is a great idea, but never actually happens. Try a little mindfulness to be fully present and observing the moment, and save the actual doing of self-care things for when you can physical take a break.
So here is a little list to get you started in the new year. Remember start small and make it doable and enjoyable.
Find a hobby (I started making bracelets and necklaces, made so many I opened a store on etsy, now I am getting paid for some self-care)
Sing it loud (for me it is gansta rap from the 90’s, or showtunes if my little is around)
Coloring (it doesn’t have to be one of those overwhelming adult coloring books, just print a page a color away)
Doodling/Journaling (keep it simple)
Mindfulness activities (they are everywhere on youtube.com)
Go on an e-vacation (expedia, plan a vacation, look at the pictures, then shut it down before you have to pay, or if you can go ahead a book that vacay and start marking down the calendar)
Fitness apps (I like asana rebel which is yoga, but do whatever works for you)
PLAY (board games, videogames, dollhouse, do a handstand, whatever, just be a kid for a bit)
Window shopping online or in a store
Try a new recipe
Call your mom, or a person who just makes you feel good
Do something new and a little scary
Take a shower, a real shower, no bath toys, toddlers, or other interruptions
Essential Oils (they are changing my life, maybe it’s the magical oil, or maybe it is the 2 minutes I spend massaging my own neck, maybe it is both, but they are well worth it)
Play-doh/Kinetic Sand (just give it a try, super soothing)
Gossip Magazines and websites
Buy yourself some flowers
Get your physical, not exactly fun, but super important
Turn off the news
Most importantly leave any guilt you may have at the door, when you are taking care of yourself, you will be a better worker, mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, friend etc…
Good luck and remember; in order to take care of others, we must first take care of ourselves.