Self-care and resourcing - what they are and how they help

I often discuss resources and self-care with friends, colleagues and clients and more often than not I get met with blank stares.

I understand the language is off putting – before I learnt what it meant I too would have given the same look.

And I also understand that for many people they may not know what self-care and resources they have in their lives or sometimes may not have many in place.

Life is difficult. It can be hard and painful and can be filled with disappointment and loss. It can also be joyous, wondrous and filled with fun and connection. There are many factors that contribute to the experience that we all have as individuals.

So how do we get through the difficult times, how do we manage when things are getting tough?

We can try to pretend they aren’t but sadly this denial eventually leads us to expressing our pain at a later date and then we don’t know where it’s coming from so can’t manage it as well. Sometimes we can end up drowning in our pain too; maybe we haven’t been taught how to manage painful and difficult emotions and feeling.

Resources and self-care can make all the difference.

So what are they?

Self-care is the choice to take care of ourselves. It sounds simple, but can actually be very hard for people. Sometimes we don’t feel we deserve self-care. Sometimes we struggle to put ourselves first – particularly if we have vulnerable people in our lives that need us. Sometimes, we just don’t know how to.

Resources are ‘tools’ that we can call on when things are tough. They can help support us to cope and manage when things are difficult. The great thing is; the more we have and the more we practice them when things are OK; the more helpful they will be when things are not OK.

Both self-care and resources are individual to us all, but they do share common themes.

Being kind, compassionate and understanding of our self is core to self-care.

An example of when we might need self-care would be...

You come in from a hard day of work. You have a lot of chores to do but you get a phone call. It’s from someone you care about and they are having a hard time emotionally. You spend some time on the phone offering support. You notice that you too begin to feel sad or angry because what they are talking about reminds you of something that is happening in your own life. You end the call and feel overtaken by your emotion. You didn’t want to say anything about it on the phone. You know you have chores to do, but just can’t find the motivation to do them. What do you do?

A choice of self-care would be one that offers self-compassion. Understanding that you feel how you do, and whilst you are experiencing that emotion you will be kind to yourself. You may choose to delay your chores, and take 20 minutes to do something that you experience as supportive. 

Here is where the resources come in:

Resources are things that we do that help us to feel like we are meeting our own needs. Here is a short list of common resources;

  • drinking a warm drink such as a herbal tea or a cool glass of water
  • taking a warm bath
  • breathing exercises
  • taking a walk
  • stroking a pet
  • singing
  • dancing
  • doodling
  • taking a lie down
  • listening to music
  • writing a journal
  • taking a break from whatever it is we are doing.

Different resources will support us as different times.

Our resource is best matched to our feeling we need support with, for example; if I am feeling angry, a walk to my favourite park will allow me to stomp out my anger. If I am feeling sad, listening to some jazz blues will allow me to feel into the sadness.

A resource can help you to feel into an emotion which in turn will help it dissipate.

A resource may also help you to cope in the moment; by putting the feeling on hold until a later time, when you can appropriately feel into the emotion. For example, feeling a rush of sadness whilst in the middle of a work meeting, a deep breathing exercise will allow you to move through your sadness appropriately. Then later in the day when safe at home, self-care may be to listen to a favoured sad music track.

Self-care can and will include supportive resources.

As described above, sometimes we need a resource to help us manage and get through a time and place when it’s not appropriate to feel into the emotions that are arising in us, and internal resources can really help in these moments.

Here is a short list of internal resources;

  • Feeling compassion for yourself.
  • Saying kind things to yourself.
  • Choosing to take the pressure off yourself.
  • Stopping any critical voices but understanding you are only human.
  • Making promises to yourself for self-care later in the day and keeping that promise.
  • Taking a moment of gratitude.
  • Taking a moment to understand yourself and appreciate why you are feeling the way you do.
  • Putting emotional boundaries in play.

In summary; choosing self-care is always a choice available to us and the more we practice self-care, the better we get at doing it. Resources are the tools that can support us in those moments; to get us through an unexpected emotion, and to help us to process those feelings and emotions that come with life, but can be painful and hard to manage.

I challenge you to incorporate one act of self-care, and practice one resource each and every day!

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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