Self-care. Self-care? Self-care! Self-care ..
A much-discussed topic lately that sounds so easy is: taking care of yourself. But what is it in practical terms, what is it for you and where do you get the time from work, social life, partner, a family? And why would you do it? What are the consequences of not taking good care of yourself? Which form of self-care is right for you? These are all questions that are good to ask yourself and that we all know are important, but are the ones that we skip or only answer vaguely.
Knowing and feeling
I am now writing about this subject because in general I think it is important to take good care of myself, but certainly also as a therapist in which you lend your thinking and emotional capacity to the person sitting across from you every session. Moreover, the idea is that we can be a certain example for the person on the other side of the consultation room (or for our children, colleagues, etc.). I also find this topic relevant now because of the enormous change in work and home environment that we have undergone in recent months due to the COVID-19 situation. Especially then it is important to know and feel what you need to take care of yourself.
My idea is that we only see the need for certain behavior when there really is no other option. Only then you start to understand why you are doing something and what the consequences are of an unhelpful trait. In addition, non-helping behaviour also brings us some kind of reward, otherwise we would have stopped it a long time ago. So it can be useful to research this for yourself. An example from my own practice: on a busy day with many clients in succession and little break, I am tuned in to the goals of the client every session and actively think along with them. I don’t think about my own goals (maybe improving self-care?) until the end of the day, when I have already paid the price. They can be very small things, such as drinking enough water or getting up from my workplace.
Jelena Stevic, Psycholoog bij Focus GGZ Amsterdam
In my view, everyone can divide his or her own self-care issue into two levels: behavior and feeling. I have already briefly discussed the behavioral part above, because this is about what you can do to take good care of yourself. What behavior contributes to better self-care is personal, but there is also a common denominator: time. Spending enough time on yourself is an important condition. In addition, you can look at which things make you happy? What does your body need? Rest or exercise? Example from daily practice: I work in a team with many different personalities, where one likes to take a power nap of 10 minutes and the other likes to dance or visit colleagues.
To determine a direction for yourself and to know what suits you, you could conduct research on yourself on an emotional level. What do you feel? Where do you feel this in your body? Every emotion is felt in our body and every emotion has a function. Once you realize this within yourself (and you can learn that in therapy at Focus GGZ ;-)), you can determine a “self-care course”. Of course, this applies not only to self-care but to everything in our lives, emotions help you determine your course overall. For example, if you are tense, you will usually feel this as restlessness in your stomach, tingling or cold hands and feet and a “foggy” head. In such a situation your body indicates that it needs relaxation. A five-minute relaxation exercise can already make a big difference in your tension level and thus in the rest of the day. When the tension subsides the fog also disappears and you can again think clearly about the previously mentioned course. Another example: grief has the function of connecting us with others. So when you feel sad, it is important to visit someone and share what makes you sad. This is just a brief explanation, but shows how you can feel in your body what it takes for you to then design your self-care strategy accordingly.
Finally, the most important thing is of course that you also want to change something in your self-care. This may sound obvious, nevertheless, it is true that rushing through the day without thinking about ourselves, also contributes to something, for example by improving what you do not want to see. Maybe the thing you are dwelling on is painful? Or it tells you something you might know but don’t want to face. Anyhow, taking good care of yourself can be relaxing and you get to know yourself better.
In short, the steps for a change in your self-care are:
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