What is self-care and why is it important?
I am really interested to find out today what you know about self-care and why this might be important for you and your well-being?
As a trainee Counsellor we are taught that self-care is essential for us in the counselling profession. It is written into the ethical framework of good counselling practice, as published by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP for short!).
Basically as a Counsellor it is essential to balance both work with clients and home life, in order to maintain the optimum health and well-being of the Counsellor. So that as a Counsellor we can be fully present with and of most help to our clients during sessions. As the picture above says, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.
I would say that this way of working is essential to everyone, balancing your own needs, both physical and mental, with the obligations of your own working life, or other roles that you may have in life, such as parenthood. So that you can maintain yourself in optimum health and well-being and avoid ‘burn out’, due to prolonged stress and exhaustion.
As a person with chronic pain, or other long-term health condition, if you can look after yourself through self-care, in my experience this will help to turn down the volume of your pain (or other symptoms). By turning down the volume of your pain through self-care activities, the pain becomes more of a background noise, rather than the pain taking the driving seat and taking over control of your body and your life.
I did a presentation on self-care at college and a really helpful resource that I came across when preparing my presentation was the self-care wheel.
I have included two different versions of the self-care wheel, as follows:
The self-care wheels split up different areas of your life that you might want to look at and offers suggestions on ways that you can cultivate more of the different areas in your life, in order to find more of a balance.
So, if you wish to you could look at one area of the wheel over a period of time, maybe a month (or more) and have a go at some of the activities mentioned. For example, if you were looking to work on the spiritual side of yourself you could potentially go outside into nature, take a yoga class, meditate, or volunteer for a local charity, or cause that is close to your heart. Have fun with it and see what happens…
If you wanted to work on your psychological health, you might decide to find a counsellor, or mentor to work with. You could read a self-help book, journal about what is on your mind, or take up drawing, or painting. All very helpful ways to work with exploring your emotions.
Here are some ways that I have been working with self-care over the last couple of days:
1. Mindful colouring and drawing.
I find both of these activities really helpful to relax and unwind.
With mindful colouring you can pick up adult colouring books virtually anywhere and they are not too expensive. You can use coloured pencils, or felt pens, again these don’t have to be too expensive either. Then if you have a spare 10-20 minutes per day it is an easy way to care for yourself.
As I mentioned on a previous post, I have the Mindfulness for Health audio book on my phone and tend to listen to the meditations from the Mindfulness for Health course from my phone, either in bed, or when I am out and about. The meditations are only 10 minutes long, so I find they quite easily fit into my day.
If you are after different, or slightly longer versions of the meditations from Breathworks they are also freely available on Sound cloud, or You Tube.
Another source of meditations that I highly recommend if you have a Smart phone, is the Calm app:
It costs something like £3 for the year and they have a number of different meditation programs to follow, for things like sleep, managing stress, managing anxiety, 7 days of happiness, 7 days of gratitude, 7 days of self-esteem, loving kindness etc… Also if you have trouble sleeping they also have a section of sleep stories. I have found these to be really helpful at times when I have trouble sleeping.
Have fun with looking at self-care and what this might look like and feel like for you in your life.