Updated: Apr 21, 2020
What is Self-Care and Why Do We Need It?
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Good self-care has been found to improve mood and reduce anxiety. It is also key to having a good relationship with yourself and others. Other benefits to self-care include greater capacity to manage stress, increased resilience, and reduced symptoms of mental health problems. (Michael, 2018)
Even though self-care is a simple concept, and is clearly very important and beneficial, it’s something we often sweep under the rug. As clinicians and parents, we always have so much on our plates. Sometimes it can almost seem impossible to work self-care into our busy, never-ending schedule.
We are making sure our clients still have access to services, we are ensuring our clients’ families get all the parent training they want and need, and we are constantly checking in with our co-workers to make sure they and their families are staying healthy and safe.
However, now more than ever, is when self-care is most important. Have you ever heard the phrase, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? It might sound cliché, but it is so very true. As clinicians, we are helping to support our clients and their families through this stressful time. We are making sure our clients still have access to services, we are ensuring our clients’ families get all the parent training they want and need, and we are constantly checking in with our co-workers to make sure they and their families are staying healthy and safe. As parents, you have now become your child(ren)’s teacher, you may still be working (whether it be from the office or from home), while also striving to maintain some sort of normalcy for yourself and your family. And in addition to all of our responsibilities as clinicians and parents, we want to stay as happy and stress-free as possible.
Now, how are we supposed to do ALL of that if we aren’t taking care of ourselves? Short answer: we can’t.
Ideas for Self-Care
Even just 10-15 minutes a day of self-care can go such a long way. It can really make a difference. If you have more time to dedicate to self-care, even better!!
Schedule a time each day when you engage solely in a self-care activity. Set an alarm, and do not multi-task. Take this time to focus on YOU, and don’t forget, consistency is key! Here are some ideas for self-care that may be helpful as you incorporate this time into your new and improved daily schedule:
Take a walk outside
Sit down and eat a healthy, nutritious snack (no interruptions allowed!)
Take a 15-minute power nap
Practice meditation (there are some great apps that you can download on your phone that guide you through a short meditation session)
Sit in a cozy chair and read a chapter of a book
Listen to a few of your favorite songs
Watch your favorite TV show
Call a friend who you haven’t talked to in a while
Write in your journal
Go on a bike ride
Look at pictures from a recent vacation/event
Put your phone on airplane mode and just take time to reflect
The options are endless. Everyone enjoys different things, so do what works for you. Just remember, cars can’t run on empty, and neither can you. You have to fill your cup before you fill others’. Take care of yourself first.
Reaching out for support [is] a strength, rather than a weakness.
Asking for Help
On top of incorporating self-care into your daily routine, always remember that is it OK (actually, more than OK) to ask for help. Some of us have adopted a “superhero mindset,” often thinking, “I should be able to cope.” If this is the case for you, I encourage you to shift that mindset and look at reaching out for support as a strength, rather than a weakness. Asking for support from others can be extremely helpful, especially during trying times like these.
Here are some suggestions of people to whom you can reach out if and when you need some support:
Spouse or significant other
Counselor or therapist