Therapists may be the worst at practicing self-care. At least I know I am. I can’t tell you how many times a day (not a week or a month- a day) I say to others things like:
- You have to take care of you;
- You need to practice self-care; or,
- Self-care is not selfish.
Yet, I have been unable to apply this same art of gratitude and empathy to my own life.
Moms are also often the worst at putting their needs before the needs of others, especially their families. However, the pandemic has left this mom and therapist with no other choice.
Burnout is real.
After an entire professional career of absorbing the problems of others my mind and body are screaming to be cared for. I’ll share my list of care items I plan to focus on this year in my next post, but I am here to tell you today that it is time. Start now before you are burned out and shut down the way my body has forced me to do this year. I have neglected my own care for so long that there was even a period of time this year when I was immobilized. Unable to accommodate any more emails, texts, or problems. I had reached my limit.
In the summer of last year, I went to the dentist’s office. I will never be able to explain why this happened at this place, on this day, but as the dental assistant was going over my treatment plan and telling me that I needed to be referred to an oral surgeon. It was as though my body was completely filled with problems and there was absolutely no room for another. I lost it. I started crying and it was very irrational. I could hear nothing else that the sweet assistant had to say. I just knew I had to leave. And I left with little communication about why.
This is what happens when you do not put yourself first and do the work to shed the tons of problems we generously help others with every day. I could not handle one more issue. It was after this I shut down for a while and I only emerged after a lot of sleep, warm baths, and reading.
I learned that I need this time. Quiet time. Restful time. Thoughtful time. Time when I listen to the thoughts in my head and no one else’s. Time for me. This time has to be scheduled for yourself as though you were making an appointment with an outside office. Put you on the calendar.
We have been taught that self-care is selfish- it is not. I started using the hashtag #takingcareofmein2023 so you can easily follow along on my self-care journey. This is my year. I will be relentless in putting what I need and want first and I know that by doing this, I will be a bigger blessing to everyone around me.
First up on my self-care checklist:
More reading. Reading does so many things for me:
- It forces me to sit still.
- It makes me stop and think.
- Reading helps increase my empathy for myself and for others.
- Stories remind me that I am not alone.
- Books give me hope and shine a light on my path.
I am so grateful for books. Books have changed my life. Books have saved my life.
Let me know what you are reading and how books help you too. I know I don’t have to take this #takingcareofmein2023 journey alone. Let’s do it together and cheer each other on.