Time and time again I have seen therapists tell their clients that they need to make time for themselves, before they can help others. But are you actually practicing what you are telling your clients? Did you actually take a lunch break today or did you just chow down on a protein bar between clients.
When setting up your private practice it is important that you put yourself first. If you aren’t able to take care of yourself, how are you going to be able to help your clients?
Here are 3 simple tips, gathered by various therapists over the years, to help you take better care of yourself.
Self-Care Tip #1: Take Care of your Physical Health
What is "physical health" and why is it important?
Physical health is simply taking care of your body and it is important to remember that your physical health is just as important as your client’s.
This may be as simple as going to the doctors when you aren't feeling well or going on a nice afternoon walk. Either way, your physical health is just as important as your client's. It is actually quite easier to implement than you may think. Start with simple steps like yoga during small breaks between sessions or performing some office stretches. Also, take the time to make the call to schedule an appointment when you aren't feeling well. Don't wait till the last minute, when you start experiencing physical health problems, or tell yourself you will get better after 2 weeks. I find that planning my day beforehand helps me put self-care in my schedule. It might sounds silly, but sometimes I have to literally write in my calendar to call my doctor to schedule an appointment. You need to do whatever it takes to put yourself first. Your health is just that, YOUR HEALTH!
Self-Care Tip #2: Take Care of Your Basic Needs
What is one basic need that we all are familiar with? EATING!
I find many times I don't ever include scheduled meals for myself. Either I don't bring snacks or lunch for myself or I don't have the time in the day. Then by 4 pm, I wonder why I am drained and don't have an ounce of energy left in my body. I often don't even drink enough water during the day. I know this is going to sound sad but I have a reminder on my phone daily to remember to drink water. After landing a day in the hospital for dehydration I told myself I would never let that happen again.
Self-Care Tip #3: Take A Mental Break
In order to avoid burnout it’s important to take breaks. This may mean sticking to your schedule so that you don't overwhelm yourself or it may mean that you need to look at your year ahead of time and plan in advance for a few vacations. How do I take a daily mental break? Take time every day to eat, read a book, listen to your favorite song, doodle, take a walk or meditate. It is important that you do not feel overwhelmed or else you could burn yourself out. If you are stressed can you really perform at 100%? I know I sure can't. It’s time to set boundaries and stick to them.
So try not to forget the little things in life. Our Health, Eating, and Vacations are great points to self-care. What else can we incorporate in our day-to-day lives to make to take care of ourselves? Here are a few things other therapists say they do to contribute to self-care:
Don’t Keep work at home
Get restful sleep
Schedule a lunch date
Go to weekly bible study
Take a walk between sessions
Listen to a podcast
Get a massage
Go to therapy
Take a class
Learn something new
If you feel like you do not have time for self-care, it’s time to take a step back and reassess your schedule. Having time for self-care is critical for the success of your private practice.