What is self-care?

Picture this - I’m sat with my client and we’ve been talking about some really heavy experiences that he’s had. Talking about things can sometimes bring up lots of emotion but he is committed to his growth. I allow him the time and space whilst supporting him to explore the details.

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I can see that he's getting tired and I’m aware we’re coming toward the end of the session. He’s begun telling me about how burnt out he is; there is so much to do and not enough time, and too much pressure - especially on top of dealing with all of his personal issues. I ask if there is any self-care he may have planned for after the session. "I don’t think I have time for stuff like that. I’ve got too much to do." I point out that there are smaller things he could do. "Like what?" he says.

This is such a common question. There is lots of talk of self-care - it seems there is a hype about self-care right now - but what does it actually mean? From working in mental health services, I've received a lot of feedback from clients that they often hear things like ‘have a bath’, ‘go for a walk’ or the classic ‘make a cup of tea’. I can fully understand how this can be frustrating, so I wanted to explain it a little more.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to self-care - as long as it is healthy and it meets your needs.

Self-care explained

Self-care is actually a very personal thing, and what works for me may not work for you. It can be one minute or one hour. Also, it doesn’t have to be the same thing every time - you may even get bored of some and have to mix it up.

For example, it may be some kind of fitness, yoga, reading, watching videos or movies, learning something new, cooking, talking to family/friends, getting out in nature, mindfulness, meditation, a breathing exercise or ‘time out’. Whatever it is that you're interested in, that is self-care.

To go more in-depth to help figure out what works for you, I would suggest working on your awareness. Really stop to notice what makes you feel good, sometimes you may just need to strip it back to basics. Shower, eat and sleep.

People underestimate the importance of setting yourself up for the day. When you pause what emotions are you feeling right now? If it’s negative, what do you need right now? Do you need to sit with it? If you’re feeling alone what makes you feel connected usually? Or, if it’s unmotivated when do you feel completely alive and sparked up?

So, now you know. You don’t have to have a bath 10 times a day to look after yourself! Do your own version of self-care. The more you learn about yourself the more you can help yourself and reframe. It can help to have some go-to options or even little prompts as this will help make it a habit. I recycle old candles into jars of self-care prompts; I fill them with handwritten notes of lots of different self-care ideas, which can be picked out when my clients need inspiration. My ending advice on this is to listen to your intuition it’s there for a reason!

Hopefully, this blog has got you thinking and made you question things. If you feel you would like to explore in more depth, please get in touch for a free initial call to help put you at ease and discuss what you would like to get from therapy.

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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Leeds LS7 & York YO30
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Written by Canse Karatas, (MBACP) - Silver Linings Counselling & Psychotherapy
Leeds LS7 & York YO30

I have 10+ years of experience working for a range of services with a variety of issues like abuse, anxiety, depression, loneliness, low confidence, schizophrenia, self-harm, suicide, trauma and much more. I am passionate about mental health awareness and actively seek ways to help people. My therapeutic influence is from an Integrative Approach.

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