Have you ever heard of the term self-care? I hadn’t until my Master’s Program orientation – which was quite a long time ago now. Picture this: The Director of the Department stands up in front of 15 bright-eyed individuals who all had a dream of becoming a therapist.
The director stands up and says, “Well, this is going to be a lot of work… so, I want to talk to you all about self-care.”
I drew a blank.
“Shit, was this a chapter I was supposed to read for orientation?,” I thought to myself. She proceeds on with her lecture and hands out a “Self-Care Assessment” which we all were instructed to fill out. The sheet of paper looked like a survey. I have an odd affinity towards filling out paperwork, so I got very excited to fill this out and find out what this self-care stuff she was talking about really was. Boy, was I in for a shock.
One can deduct that self-care is the act of taking care of one’s self. This is true in the medical field.
That day at orientation, I learned a lot about self-care. It has been something that I have truly carried with me into my day-to-day life. In fact, not only do I discuss this with clients often, but I have also written articles about it that have been published on MindBodyGreen and YourTango.
It’s my belief that self-care is the foundation to have a happy and conscious life, relationship(s), and overall being. So, today, I’d like to educate you all on what I learned that day at orientation (and some of the things from the many years after).
There are six areas of self-care*
(here are some examples):
- Eating regularly & healthfully
- Getting regular preventative medical care
- Getting massages
- Dance, swim, walk, run, or play a sport
- Being sexual with yourself, or someone else
- Wearing clothes you like
- Making time for self-reflection
- Having your own psychotherapy
- Writing in a journal
- Reading books that aren’t related to your work
- Doing something you’re not an expert at
- Letting other people know different aspects of you
- Noticing your inner experience
- Saying “no” sometimes
- Being curious
- Re-reading your favorite books or re-watching your favorite movies
- Spending time with others whose company you enjoy
- Staying in contact with important people in your life
- Loving yourself, praising yourself
- Giving yourself affirmations for various aspects of life
- Finding things that make you laugh
- Expressing any outrage in social action and activism
- Playing with puppies and/or kids
- Making time for reflection
- Spending time with nature
- Finding a spiritual connection, or community
- Being open to inspiration
- Cherishing your own hope and optimism
- Being open to not knowing
- Identifying what in meaningful to you and notice its place in your life
- Meditating regularly
- Having experiences of awe
- Reading inspirational literature
- Taking a break during the day (like lunch!)
- Taking time to chat with co-workers or other people that work near you
- Identifying projects/tasks that are exciting and rewarding
- Setting limits with clients, colleagues, and bosses
- Arranging your workspace so it’s comfortable and
- Negotiating your needs – like salary, benefits, etc.
- Having a peer support group
- Striving for balance of time
- Daily balance
- Weekly balance
- Monthly balance
- Yearly balance
- Striving for balance in different areas of life:
Can you think of some ideas under each category that you’d like to do?
Now, I do a whole self-care assessment with most of the clients that I see – I believe that its a huge part of coming to therapy or working with me as a therapeutic coach. One of the things that comes up often is if self-care is just that.. taking care of one’s SELF.. then why are some of the things on the list, not things that you necessarily enjoy? For example, I hate to run. It is no secret to the world… I would literally rather do anything besides go on a run (well, except go to the dentist). Yet, for some people, running is the one thing that they could and would not live without.
Essentially, by participating in activities that are truly for YOU, things that fill up your tanks, things that leave you feeling naturally high… these are the things that fall under self-care. What category they fall under… well, who cares? At some point, we all do need to find that balance between the six areas of self-care, however, for right now… just figure out what works for you. These activities can help decrease anxiety and depression and increase energy, help you sleep better, and make your relationship with yourself and others stronger.
Let’s all commit to one activity this week that we are going to do for ourselves. Let’s go on this journey all together.. this journey of the care of the self, the soul, and heart. Join me? Our private online community held on Facebook is waiting for you! We’d love to know what you’re thinking about doing for yourSELF this week. Make sure you’re getting daily self-care by having a weekly WWC Family Meeting. If you haven’t yet, check it out – it’s free!
*Adapted from Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization. Saakvitne, Pearlman & Staff of TSI/CAAP (Norton, 1996)