Self-Care for Therapists and Counselors

self-care for therapists
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Today we have another post from our contributor, Sam!

If you work in a caring profession, such as a therapist or counselor, how do you achieve the work/life balance you need to take care of yourself so that you can continue taking care of others?

Find Your Self-Care Style

Self-care is essential, but it’s particularly important for those who spend their days taking on the cares of their patients. The professional life of a counselor is not an easy one, after all. Your workload is probably often overwhelming. Every patient, as gratifying as it always is to help them, brings with them their own emotional turmoil that you, as their therapist, must share.

The risk of burnout amongst counsellors and therapists is high, and when that happens, you’re not only not going to be beneficial to your patients, but you’re also not likely to last very long in the career you’ve worked so hard to achieve. With that said, you need to make self-care a part of your daily routine — and that’s going to mean different things to different people.

Take the time to imagine your perfect day. Maybe it’s curling up with a good book and a snuggly little fur baby, or maybe it’s a day spent creating and making beautiful art. Maybe it’s getting out in nature, hiking or swimming or rock climbing. The important thing is to find your particular self-care style, those things that recharge your heart, mind, and spirit, and make them a part of your daily life.

Create an Outdoor Oasis

By far one of the best ways to nurture your spirit is to spend time in nature. But you don’t have to travel far from home to get out into the wild. In fact, with a bit of ingenuity and some sweat equity, you can create a healing oasis right in your backyard.

A great way to begin is to construct a “living fence” of plants, shrubs, and flowers. That’s going to give you privacy and peace. And it’s also going to ensure that no matter where you turn, you’re literally surrounded by life and beauty. More than that, there’s a symbolic significance to creating a privacy screen: you’re physically setting up a boundary to give yourself a safe space to shelter from the outside world when you need it.

That’s something that caregivers, by definition, have tremendous difficulty doing. And yet it’s what you must do, figuratively as well as literally, if you’re going to stay sane, healthy, happy, and strong.

Sleep On It

One of the best gifts you can give your mind and body alike is the gift of rest. So while you’re focusing on self-care, don’t forget about what’s probably the most personal and private space in your entire home: your bedroom.

Your bedroom should be an inviting hideaway perfect not only for the nurturing sleep your body needs, but also for hours of relaxation on lazy Sunday mornings or quiet Tuesday nights. So trick out your space with crisp linens, soothing colors, soft lighting, and natural materials, such as rich wood finishes and greenery.

The Takeaway

When you’re a caregiver by both nature and by trade, it can be hard to remember to put yourself on your own to-do list. But that’s exactly what has to happen if you’re going to survive and endure. Taking care of others means, first, learning how to take care of yourself. Integrating self-care into your daily life isn’t difficult, but it does take commitment. Once you’ve made a habit of it, though, you’re going to find yourself healthier, happier, and stronger than ever before, and not only your loved ones, but your patients will thank you for it. 

Sam Bowman writes about people, tech, wellness and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

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