Simple self care practices that become regular daily habits have proven to be essential to helping the helping professionals be nourished and whole. When I started a facebook group to focus on self care for psychotherapists 6 years ago called Therapists’ Self Care Support, I never imagined how fast it would grow and what a rich and wonderful community would develop. Mental health professionals from all over the world post their ideas and ponderings about the idea of self-care and how vital it is for we the human beings in the role of therapist to our clients. In this online community I’ve come to see how many layers there are to the process of self care. In the end, it is the simple self care practices observed regularly that really make the difference.
As mental health professionals, we know that self care is an important ethical consideration because if we do not care for ourselves we can not provide quality care for our clients.
We need to have definitive simple self care practices in place so that our batteries can stay well-charged in order to be of service to others.
I curated a list of simple and yet impactful ways you might find could be added into your regimen.
51 Simple Self Care Practices
- Rise from bed slowly in the morning. Feel your feet on the floor and take a few minutes to sit and be with the new day and your breath before jumping up.
- Drink 8 ounces of warm water with the juice of a half lemon through a glass straw upon waking each morning. It helps awaken your digestive track to start the day right and other benefits according to Edison Institute for Nutrition.
- Schedule lunch breaks and dinner breaks, prioritizing just as important as client appointments and do not allow anyone to sway you to schedule over them. Simple self care practices have to be scheduled.
- Savor your food when you eat. There are benefits to chewing your food slowly and bring your attention to the full flavors and textures of the food. Avoid eating in the car or eating on the go.
- Between your online appointments, close your eyes and take 3 slow cycles of deep, full breaths. Try breathing in to the count of 5 filling your lungs and then blow out as if through a drinking straw to the count of 8. Repeat 3 times. Get up and stretch your legs and arms.
- Hydration is so important for your brain to be able to function properly say the experts. Aim for 8 ounces each hour of your work day.
- Take a 30 minute walk outdoors and aim for every day when the weather allows. Swing your arms. Look up at the sky and the tree-tops.
- Roll your bare foot on a tennis ball under your desk while in session. A little tennis ball foot massage is good for the body.
- Cook your own meals and include organic foods as close to natural form as possible. Cook with herbs and learn new recipes. I love this organic recipe blog.
- Visit a museum online. Here is a great list of options.
- Watch out for sugar and white flour. If you want a sweet taste, reach for locally grown honey and rather than processed flour aim for organic whole grain options says Harvard Medical School.
- Re-think the drink. Annie Grace’s program called This Naked Mind has created quite the movement with lots of free support and resources for people who decide to live a life that is alcohol-free. It’s really based in good ole cognitive behavioral theory and she helps regular people see how alcohol is just not the good friend our society likes to make us think it is.
- Be cautious about over-scheduling yourself with online meetings. Everyone is meeting online for everything from work meetings to coffee hours. Space out your online time with breaks outdoors or listening to your favorite music while working a jigsaw puzzle or playing legos with your child.
- Find a favorite yoga video and practice daily. I like the variety here at Yoga with Adrienne
- Walk barefoot in the grass or the sand depending on where you are. It helps you connect to the supportive energies of Mother Earth.
- Look for opportunities to laugh. Comedy radio or tv. Seek the humor in all things.
- Use some high quality headphones or ear-buds and listen to some Debussy.
- Read a real book. Reading has a multitude of self care benefits or if your eyes are too tired from so much screen time, opt for an audio book.
- Move slowly instead of racing from task to task. Take time to pause and be fully present in your transitions. Simple self care practice begin by slowing down.
- Start a gratitude journal. There is no better time to practice finding and feeling grateful for what you have in your life at this time. It will help your heart to feel full and at peace.
- Practice dropping your tongue away from the roof of your mouth and notice how it relaxes the jaw. This will help you notice how often you may be clenching your jaw.
- Do some bird-watching even if it’s just through the window of your home. Birds are in the city, in the country, in the suburbs. Watch the birds around your home flit and flap and fly. Listen to their song.
- Clean out a closet, drawer or cabinet each week. You’ll feel lighter. Try these 10 clutter clearing strategies.
- Schedule snuggle time. Whether you live alone and snuggle up under a soft, fluffy blanket or whether you have little children or a partner at home, find ways to make time to snuggle, get cozy and feel the comfort.
- Use a variety of herbs when you cook. The flavors are wonderful and often good for health.
- Learn how to use essential oils SAFELY. Do not take ingest or use straight (neat) on the skin say experts. Aromatherapy can be good for mood and a natural alternative to many of the chemical laden products. I love the quality of the oils at SnowLotus (it’s not an MLM company).
- Care for your skin with castile soap, baking soda, witch hazel and coconut oil. Save money and nurture your skin naturally with items in your kitchen.
- Set firm and loving boundaries with others. Respect your own time, space and emotions. Don’t let others run all over you.
- Clean out your refrigerator at the end of every month. Get rid of expired items and wash down the surfaces. It’s therapeutic.
- Take time to be sure you are caught up on your “I love you”s. Make extra effort to reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in a while and tell them how much you appreciate them.
- Ensure your legal matters are in order. It’s good self care to have a will prepared so you know in the case of your death your matters will be easily taken care of. Be sure to have a professional will if you own your own business as well.
- Install indoor plants in every room of your house and office and take good care of them. In turn they will clean the air you breathe. You can trim and root existing plants so you don’t need to get out to the store. Simple self care might be as simple as taking care of a living plant.
- Floss your teeth daily. This little task so often neglected can really help with your health and prevent painful, expensive dental issues down the road. Love your gums.
- Be a shining light for what is right in the world. When you witness someone saying degrading, derogatory or deprecating things about others, speak up by pointing out the positive and the beauty. Shining light where there is darkness will expand your spirit. Learn how to speak up for what is right.
- Learn to meditate and meditate daily. Just 20 minutes each day over the course of a year will transform you in wonderful ways.
- Read or listen to my favorite mindfulness practice book called Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabbat-Zinn and do the little exercises after each chapter. It will change your life for the better.
- If you feel sadness arise, allow the tears to flow. Stress is released in the tears we cry. Breathe into the sadness and try to not hold your breath.
- If you feel anger arise, mop the floor, scrub the tub, or go for a brisk walk and swing your arms while you feel your anger. The dual attention and bilateral stimulation of the body and brain helps even out the emotions in a healthy way.
- Go to therapy as a client. As we know, counseling is a place to process what you are unclear about and feel supported and often guided when you’re lost.
- Connect to a spiritual practice. Regardless of religion or tradition, reaching inward and to what you personally believe in can be a wonderful way of caring for yourself.
- Light a candle for all in the world who are suffering. Extending compassion and heart-felt love and caring for others is also a way of caring for self.
- If you are feeling stuck professionally or personally reach out for mentoring, coaching or consultation from a professional with who you feel connected.
- Watch children’s shows or movies. Rediscover your inner child.
- Paint a room in your house or office. Order some paint and supplies for curbside pick up from your local big box store. Paint a mural. Or if that’s too big of a project maybe a small project like painting a flower pot and growing a flower.
- Porch time. If you have a porch, patio, balcony, yard or some other outdoor space where you can bring a chair and an ice-cold glass of tea or sparkling water, make time to go and sit, sip and enjoy the fresh air.
- Self massage using balls. Since massage services are not available or advisable during a pandemic, you might consider learning how to work with massage balls and sign up for body rolling classes or videos.
- Sing a song.The physical and psychological benefits of singing are real.
- Write your memoirs. Check out this article called Writing Your Memoir in 6 Steps.
- Leave “white space” on your calendar for unprogrammed, unplanned, spontaneous experiences.
- Start each day with an affirming filter through which you run all decisions: “Today I choose to love myself, respect myself and honor myself body, mind and spirit.” Through this filter, all actions will ensure you are caring for self.
- Get some self care mentoring support. After many years of leading self care support retreats, I also provide private consultation support for mental health professionals in creating and following a customized self care plan. Please contact me if you’d like to schedule a private session.
Simple self care practices can make all the difference in keeping yourself connected and fulfilled so you can continue to be of service to your clients, community and your loved ones.