Self-care is a cliché that appears to have lost its luster and value due to the term being overused. As a concept, it is frequently misunderstood, and certainly under-practiced.
When others suggest that we need to practice more self-care, many of us roll our eyes and think “ain’t nobody got time for that.” In fact, I have done so myself. However, the more I reassessed my initial impressions relating to self-care, (that involved me engaging in self-indulgent and luxurious activities) the more I have mindfully and intentionally embraced what self-care truly means and what benefits I can gain from practicing it regularly.
Self-care, for me, is the simple practice of taking care of my whole self (mind, body, and spirit) with mindful and intentional practice. I learned how to be deliberate in what I am giving myself and what I am doing for, and to myself.
When I teach self-care practices to my clients, I encourage them to evaluate their own views and biases with respect to self-care. I also encourage them to assess their own self-care practices, to explore new ideas, and to build on their strengths.
When I counsel my clients to adopt a greater degree of self-care, some of them initially view my recommendations as impractical or out of reach for them, especially during trying and stressful times. My clients do typically acknowledge the value of my recommendations to practice self-care but often return to follow-up sessions without engaging in them, overwhelmed with where and how to start, and fearful that they won’t do them ‘right’.
Over the years, I have become more aware of the genuine challenges facing my clients who look to adopt more self-care practices in their day-to-day lives. Clinically, however, I also enjoy the creative aspect of exploring ideas, perspectives, and the practice of self-care with my clients and I support my clients in their own exploration as they create and implement mindful and intentional practices as well. Likewise, I encourage self-care as a preventative practice that sustains well-being as well as a means to achieve an overall healthy life-balance for the long run.
The idea of “added-value” in therapy can be viewed as:
• Offering a fresh look at self-care.
• Refuting myths surrounding self-care.
• Minimizing the challenges confronting clients in practicing self-care.
• Reducing the difficulty clients have in initiating, practicing consistently, and sustaining self-care routines.
• Committing to practicing them effectively over time.
The ultimate goal in my clinical practice is to help my clients hit the reset button, and to begin again with a deeper and renewed understanding of self-care practice. I help them to look at self-care through a new lens, one in which they set aside old, tired notions and myths and courageously take on, and embrace, new ones that add value to their overall well-being.