What Therapists REALLY Think About Self-Care…
Hello readers, today I’m excited to share with you a collaborative blog post regarding “self care”, written by myself (Cheryl Livesey, UKCP Integrative Psychotherapist and owner of Renaissance Therapy Centre in Harborne) and Zahraa, a Person Centred Therapist and owner of FuturePast Therapy.
Real or Imaginary Obstacles to Self-Care:
According to Cheryl, for previous generations - where people could thank rationing for staying slim and lives could be at risk through the biggest wars ever seen – some of our modern insights about self care might seem new-fangled at best and self-indulgent at worst. (Un)Fortunately, these people are our grandparents and parents and we know how patterns and beliefs can be passed down “transgenerationally”.
Fast-forward many years to our rushed lives nowadays, and clients often say they don’t have the time or resources for specific examples of self-care. I would empathically say to them that they are missing the point… Self-care has to be a priority even at the expense of other things.
Another aspect of modern society is that we may pervert self-care when we have complex relationships with some elements of it. An example: when I talk to clients about work-life balance and resting to improve productivity overall, I can tell they can have a straightforward relationship with that concept once they’re on board with it. However, with other examples like healthy eating and exercise I find some female clients may have more mixed relationships with these (due to body image issues and social pressures..). These particular aspects of self-care can have more of the stick than the carrot about them…
In a similar vein, with our overly curated lives playing out on social media, self-care can be hijacked by glamorous Instagrammers - such that you feel “less than” if you’re watching TV in a onesie rather than chilling by the pool of an exclusive spa. Self-care is and should be uniquely idiosyncratic to you: some may crave company while you may prefer to hibernate. And YOUR self-care needs may vary from day to day, week to week or month to month.
Even once you have overcome these above-mentioned obstacles, self-care has more implications than a bigger bubble bath budget every month…Implementing self-care can be consciously or unconsciously scary. You may end up valuing yourself, asserting yourself, expressing your needs and expecting them to be met… Surely this thing should come with a health warning?!
I asked Zahraa for her thoughts: “Personally, self-care is something I now do daily and varies from spending time with friends, to writing, to just being with myself. I never knew how valuable self-care could be until I was training to be a therapist. In all honesty, I had not heard of the phrase, “self care” until I started training.”
“Admittedly I shrugged off the notion of self-care at first. Taking in to account, work, studying, a clinical placement, family life, I honestly had no time to practice self-care, so it wasn’t a priority. I would just plod along until one day I unfortunately reached burnout. At this point I was forced to take time out and prioritise my work/life balance.”
“As a therapist, I have learnt self care is making sure I am meeting my emotional needs, it’s making sure that I am in the right frame of mind to give my all to my clients, it’s making sure I am eating healthily and not snacking throughout the day.”
“Sometimes it can take just 15 minutes a day to practice self-care, this could be getting some fresh air to a break away from the screen. Other days it’s taking a self care day, no phone, no laptop, no email, but doing something that will not only give me a serotonin boost, but will benefit me greatly in the long run.”
To find out more about talking therapies in the West Midlands or book an appointment with Zahraa or Cheryl, click on futurepasttherapy.co.uk or renaissancetherapy.co.uk
We are also on twitter: @futurepasttherapy and @renaissanceHar2; Instagram: renaissanceharborne and futurepasttherapy; and Facebook: @futurepasttherapy and @Renaissancetherapy