11 Self-Care Tips & Techniques for Therapists
By focusing on your needs, you’ll be better equipped to help clients while still achieving a healthy therapist work-life balance. The following 11 self-care tips for therapists are easy to incorporate into your daily life.
1. Set daily intentions for your self-care practices
One of the most effective and simple self-care ideas for therapists is to start every day with an intention or goal focused on self-care. For example, you might decide in the morning that you’re going to take a walk during your lunch break or dedicate time at the end of your day to relax and read a good book.
2. Schedule regular breaks
Scheduling breaks is essential, regardless of how busy you are on any given day. Designating time throughout your day can let you step away from work and other responsibilities in life.
Use this time to practice mindfulness, stretch, do yoga, journal, or get fresh air outside. Breaks help recharge your mental batteries and ensure you’re ready to take on your next challenge.
3. Take care of your physical health
Even if you already make time for your mental well-being, with hectic schedules and many responsibilities weighing you down, it can be easy to let your physical health slip through the cracks.
Don’t forget to prioritize working out, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Regular physical activity has been found in studies to help reduce stress and boost feelings of positivity and well-being.
4. Nurture your relationships
Spending time with loved ones and people you care about can help you get through those long or arduous days at work. According to research, solid social connections offer valuable emotional support, especially during difficult times.
5. Learn to say no
Learning to say no and setting boundaries are essential in your professional and personal lives. Being able to say no — and not feel bad about it — protects your time, energy, and mental state. It’s a critical skill you must develop, particularly given your demanding and taxing profession.
“My client told me that she was struggling with the word boundaries. We came up with another word — “guidelines.” Guidelines are things that match our highest potential identity, and they let others know how we can interact with each other. If one of my guidelines is that I only do things that nourish my soul, then violent movies are off-limits. So, if someone wants me to go to a violent movie, the answer is no. Just refer to your guidelines to be in your happy space.”
6. Embrace your humanity and acknowledge your growth
Accepting imperfections can be hard for any of us — but when you can look at your mistakes as an opportunity for growth, those challenges can help you professionally and personally in every aspect of life.
7. Identify enjoyable activities or hobbies
Finding activities outside of work that you love and bring joy to your life is vital for anyone with high-stress jobs, like mental health professionals.
8. Incorporate self-care into small moments in your day
Find small ways throughout your day to integrate self-care into your downtime. For example, you could practice deep breathing exercises between each therapy session or take a short walk around your office during your break.
9. Regularly check in with yourself
Part of taking care of yourself means routinely checking in to assess how you’re feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically. When you focus on becoming aware of your feelings, you can address things quickly before they escalate.
“Remember, this life can be so much fun. Let your little girl or boy come out to play. When a great song comes on in the grocery store, I am the one boogieing down the aisle. When the new “Little Mermaid” came out, I sent out an important invitation to all of my female friends to show up at the theater in their best mermaid outfits. It was an opportunity to get out the green hair color and glitter eye shadow. Such great playful energy. The best way to care for your mental health is to create fun.”
10. Seek help when you need it
Just like you’d recommend for a patient, it’s important to recognize when you need help, too. Seek support from colleagues, supervisors, or mentors when you feel overwhelmed. It can help change your mindset so you can recover from the burdens and stress of your profession.
11. Remember that self-care is non-negotiable
Self-care should be a non-negotiable in life. The importance of prioritizing your own mental and physical well-being is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. When you prioritize your self-care using the self-care ideas for therapists we’ve discussed here, you’ll position yourself in a place that allows you to offer superior care for every client, every day.