As therapists, we tend to pour much more into others than ourselves. I get it!
Which is part of the reason I created The UNCOMMON BIPOC Retreat,
so I can help POUR BACK INTO YOU!
Hopefully, this will help professionals like yourself to establish and prioritize self-care because you cannot pour from an empty cup! Most therapists in practice dream of serving their communities meaningfully; they have a passion for it that made them decide to do so professionally. Be that as it may, once you are in this space, on your own, working for yourself, you quickly find that there is so much more than just working with individual clients that goes into managing your practice.
While providing therapy at my practice, BLISSFUL MIND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH LLC., I often hear self-care regarding manicures, pedicures, massages, and facials. & while all of these are great and are a part of someone's self-care, it is not necessarily the foundation of self-care. If you are not careful and practicing authentic self-care often enough, burnout could pull you from your fullest potential in private practice and burn you out of the field for good! For me, self-care helps to permit me to keep my doors open and continue to work with the communities and populations I enjoy working with.
“Self-Care” can feel and sound nice, warm, and fuzzy; at least, that’s what I thought it was. I now know self-care requires clear, direct communication and setting and enforcing boundaries. This can be challenging and uncomfortable if you are a giver or like to please people.
What most people do not talk about is the sacrifice that is required for one's self-care. The sacrifice for self-preservation and mental and emotional wellness must happen.
If neglected, burnout will set in, which can lead to many other problems such as, but not limited to, irritability, frustration, anxiety, depression, and heaven forbid, a struggling practice or career that feels like a burden or does it make it at all.
Here is where that sacrifice comes in.
Communicate your honest thoughts and feelings with family, friends, and loved ones.
Set and enforce boundaries by asking for what you want and need.
Manage your time, energy, and effort in ways that prioritize YOU!
There are many reasons that people find it difficult to ask for help. Maybe they do not want to appear weak, and maybe they feel that they will be disappointed, maybe they feel that no one will do things the way they want, etc. Whatever the reason, asking for help must happen to practice self-care.
As a therapist in private practice, this might mean:
Paying someone to do tasks you do not have time to figure out or manage, such as billing and scheduling.
Enforcing late cancellation and no-show fees.
Asking the client to be an active participant in the therapy relationship.
Not adding that extra client that says, “I need to see you now!” on a full day of sessions, especially when they have not communicated a real emergency (i.e.-life or blood loss).
Scheduling a daily lunch break or blocking time to do your administrative tasks weekly.
It could even mean that YOU, as a therapist, go to therapy and/or find other therapists you can connect with & consult.
Although doing the abovementioned things can feel challenging and uncomfortable, these sacrifices are essential to authentic self-care. If you find implementing any of these skills challenging, consider what could happen if you do not. As the saying goes, you are not an unlimited well for others to drink from. The well will run dry if tapped into too often, not replenished, or resources are not rationed and saved.
Self-check-ins are a MUST!
Have you ever experienced the feeling that you are okay until you’re not OK? I know I have!
What this tells me is that I have been missing out on regularly checking in on myself. You might push yourself through feelings of tiredness, uneasiness, discomfort, etc. until it feels like you cannot push yourself anymore. Personally, for me, this is a clear signal that I have missed something. I am sure that all therapists have had a client tell you that they have had an increase in their negative symptoms, and then as you sit with them and listen to what has been going on in their life, you will say, “Wow! I can see why you are not feeling great, and your negative symptoms have increased!” The clients will not even realize it themselves, even though they're experiencing it directly.
This is when both my clients and I need to ask where time, energy, and effort are being spent. I need to create a budget, if you will. I HATE budgets! Mainly because holding myself accountable is uncomfortable. I want to be able to spend both real money and emotional money the way I want when I want. But we all know this is unrealistic.
A more realistic self-check-in may consist of the following:
Giving enough time to recharge activities such as sleep, rest, and breaks!
Enforcing much-needed boundaries by asking for what you need and want!
Refraining from filling your downtime with activities that only pour into others instead of yourself!
Self-check-ins can seem unnecessary, cheesy, or like “easier said than done” things. However, if you refuse to check in on yourself, your body and mind have a very efficient way of forcing you to take notice. Physical pain, fatigue, insomnia, GI issues, panic, etc. are the mind and body’s signals that we need to notice and attend to. Our minds and bodies are very well equipped to preserve themselves. They work hard to stop you from pushing them to the point of their demise.
Think of it this way, either you check in on yourself and make the necessary adjustments or let your mind and body do it for you. Either way, self-check-ins will happen. You choose the easier proactive way or, the more difficult reactive way. Now do you understand that self-care for helping professionals requires sacrifice? Also, remember, self-care CAN be warm and fuzzy, BUT self-care at its foundation takes a concerted effort, discomfort, letting go, acceptance, and sacrifice. Once we understand that self-care incorporates discomfort and embrace that as a sign of growth, we may experience and practice authentic self-care and grow personally and as therapists! Feel free to read more about sustainable self-care tips HERE.
To Learn More About How You Can Become More Authentic With Self Care, Contact Me!