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  • jane@northside

Why do we, as therapists, find it hard to look after ourselves? - and some ideas of how we can start.

I have been noticing it a lot more over the last 6 months or so - that counsellors and therapists seem to struggle with self-care. We spend our professional lives (and probably home life too) looking out for others. Does this lead to feeling too tired at the end of the working day? And does this mean that we neglect ourselves; both our physical and mental health?

Why do therapists find self-care so hard?

As people who help others and, often are the backstop for others, how can we change our habits and routine to include caring for ourselves? I find it interesting that 'doing' self-care is often referred to as 'practising'. That is, its not done once and then over, its a regular thing. So how can we starting paying more attention to practising self-care?

book in things you enjoy

Diary bookings. If you struggle with a busy diary, as many of us do, booking time in the calendar to make space for you can help. It can be ensuring we are taking time out to have fun or do things we enjoy such as meeting friends or family, calling friends, going to the cinema, reading a book, baking, exercising, a creative hobby, watching TV... its all down to doing some of what we are energised by.

Ensure we are supported. Lets not leave it until we are at the overwhelmed point and feeling stressed. If I know I have a difficult time coming up - I'm going to make more of an effort to book in support time with friends, colleagues or supervisor.

checking in with friends or colleagues via text or whatsapp

One of the areas that can get pushed to one side when life feels complicated or busy or when dealing with a complex client is our connections with others - staying in touch can really help - even if its just a quick Whatsapp to check in.

Take a break - our brain and emotional wellbeing seriously benefits from having a break to re-shape and refocus. It doesn't have to be big - a chat with colleagues over a cuppa or a walk are simple, beneficial things we can do.

Sleepyheads. I don't know about you but I really feel it if I'm running short on sleep; sluggish and slightly out of sorts. So many studies show the benefits of sleep to help improve mood, concentration, general well-being and ability to make decisions.

Putting in boundaries. Sometimes it can be really difficult to protect the divide between personal and professional life - particularly as a self-employed practitioner but I have found it so important for my own sense of well-being and not being tempted to deal with work emails or posts when I'm not 'at work'. Its so easy to get sucked in isn't it?

One of the things I have found especially helpful is a little yoga every day. There is a Youtube channel - Yoga with Adrienne that I use - up to 30 min slots of physical activity and - the breathing exercises. Doing the breathing helps slow my heart rate and focus on my body's response. I can actively feel it letting go during the short half hour of movement and mindfulness.

In summary - just a few ideas that may inspire you to make even one small change towards better self-care. Best of luck!


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