The importance of self care for therapists can never be understated.
The quality of self care that therapists give themselves directly impacts all aspects of their profession. It takes a great deal of emotional and mental investment to balance between being sensitive to others’ challenges and viewing them objectively without bias. Therapists often listen to tragic experiences and offer empathy to clients. However, the therapist-client relationship isn’t a bidirectional one where therapists can share their stories or receive empathy. By providing a shoulder to cry on, on an hourly and daily basis, therapists end up depleting their potential to provide care and experience burnout, which is approximately 21% to 67% of mental health professionals, according to data. So, how do therapists deal with burnout? And how do they prevent exhaustion in the first place?Physical, mental and spiritual self care can help therapists replenish themselves for better productivity and overall well-being. In this article, we provide a few self care tips for therapists to avoid exhaustion.
Going on a break can help the body and mind recover from exhaustion. According to the American Psychological Association, though the benefits of taking a vacation may be short-lived, it helps most workers in the US de-stress and improve their efficiency.
Contrary to some therapists’ viewpoint that caring for yourself could be perceived as being insensitive to others suffering, failing to care for yourself could be a selfish thing to do. If you burn out, you will not be in a position to help yourself, let alone help others through their ordeals. So, make it a point to indulge yourself with the little joys of life regularly. Get your hands dirty gardening over the weekend, or clear out those dead skin cells at the salon – just remember to set aside some ‘me’ time every week, and stay committed to it.
Sometimes, it can be extremely difficult to disconnect from work and not carry your clients’ problems home. However, the disconnect is critical to achieving work-life balance and establishing boundaries. Fix a ritual to aid you to do this. For example, you could take a shower when you get home. Close your eyes and imagine all the pain, frustration, grief and sorrow that you helped shoulder get washed away as water drips down your body.
Though meditation is highly recommended for people suffering from mental health conditions, therapists don’t always practice it themselves. Studies have shown that having a daily meditation routine promotes relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety, and increases focus. It is also known to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to the heart.
Stay in touch with peers constantly. Participating in personal psychotherapy and clinical supervision, and journaling can be great preventive strategies too.
By being proactive about your personal well-being, not only do you enjoy a better quality of living, but also improve patient treatment outcomes.
If the stress levels in your current role are unmanageable, prioritize yourself over other matters and move on. At DirectShifts, we help therapists find interesting opportunities that allow better work-life balance.