Updated: Sep 16
Mental health professionals play a crucial role in supporting the well-being of others. However, in the process of caring for their clients, they often neglect their own self-care. In this article, we will explore the importance of self-care for mental health professionals and provide practical strategies to prioritize it. By understanding the significance of self-care and implementing effective self-care practices, mental health professionals can enhance their own well-being, prevent burnout, and provide better support to their clients.
Self-care is essential for mental health professionals as it directly impacts their emotional resilience, mental well-being, and professional effectiveness. The concept of self-care is caring for your whole self this includes things we do to care for our physical, psychological, spiritual, and emotional health. Some of the more popular examples of these include regular exercise, taking breaks for mental health, connecting with your inner self, connecting with peers.
When we find ourselves taking on more and put others needs before our own we wind up burnout or in a place of compassion fatigue. This affects how we show up and our overall effectiveness.
To prioritize self-care, mental health professionals must first understand their personal needs and implement appropriate strategies. This really sounds easy but the reality is some professionals who focus on others may have a hard time implementing some of the strategies they recommend.
We are all seeking a state of mind where we’re free from stress and worry and have the relationships we need in our lives. We need to sit with ourselves and establish boundaries, limits, non-negotiables or whatever you call them for all areas and aspects of our lives client time, workload, social battery.
We need to look at life as and integration of processes that need to consistently operate efficiently. There need to breaks, there needs to be maintenance, and there needs to be rewards, realistically we spend more time doing this for our vehicles than ourselves. You probably clean your car more than you reward yourself.
Spending time with yourself to discover what kind of physical activity you want to do, connecting to people, and reaching out are all greats steps to understanding your needs for self-care.
Overcoming Barriers to Self-Care
How do you put yourself first? This is the million-dollar question mental health professionals answer for everyone else.
Far too often mental health professionals can find themselves in a space of guilt, if they take time for themselves over scheduling to ensure their clients can receive the best care possible. Chipping away at the time you need and how you need to spend it ultimately affecting your self worth and how you show up.
Take a look at your day, what have you scheduled for your break? Probably nothing it’s your time and don’t want to see it scheduled. What if you were to schedule something for yourself for the 15 minutes for example Me Time: goals to accomplish: rest how: listen to 10 minutes of favourite book, or stretch.
Culture affects us all and how it integrates with our self-care plan can be challenge. Expectations and understandings can limit our abilities. Knowing the cultural influences you are working with will help you navigate self-care and how to address your needs. Having a solid Lean in Team you can turn to when you need to be heard can make the difference.
Integrating Self-Care into Professional Practice
The biggest lesson I have learned at Humanology Partners with self-care is it is a living organism and it requires commitment to maintain well. Far too often self-care is used as a fall back and in emergencies when a little a day goes a long way.
Physical exercise is a huge component of my self-care plan, I know 30 minutes a day is all I need my body feels great, my mind receives an abundance of natural chemical release. Because this is such a big piece carving out the time becomes non-negotiable and a commitment I have to keep to myself for myself.
Things not planned have a tendency to not get done and messy time management leads to things not being able to be planned. Look at how your spending your time, with the amount of distractions the world has now I’m sure it has affected your efficiency on both sides of the equation.
Self-care takes work to understand, plan and implement; it takes dedication, discipline and commitment which means there will probably be days you need support. Having a lean in team, a group of peer/social network, you can reach out to is a pivotal part or all self-care plan.
Self-care is mandatory for all of us it is an integration not a balance that takes commitment, scheduling, and discipline. We need to sit with ourselves and understand what do those stress free days look like and how do we achieve them more frequently, what are the things we need to do more of and what do we need to have stronger boundaries with.