I’m a small-town California girl turned mental health therapist. Favorite things: babies (but don’t have my own!), comfy pants, and taking too many pictures. I'm all about realistic self-care, mental health for everyone, and personal growth even if you hate that phrase (cause I do!).
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Back in grad school, I had an ah-ha moment about self-care. I was studying mental health counseling, working with clients at my internship at a local hospital, and finishing classes. I first started to think of “self-care” back in college, so you’d think by now I’d have it down. Right? Nope.
Even steeped in constant conversations, readings, and lectures about mental health, including how important self-care is for therapists, I was still struggling. My ongoing struggles with depression and anxiety were rearing their ugly head, my physical health and stamina were plummeting, but now I had the ethical weight of the wellbeing of my own clients to consider, too. Why can’t I get it together? Why is this so hard? I’d often wonder this at the end of another day, feeling as if I had nothing left.
The missing piece! Sure, I knew all about mindfulness and grounding techniques and relaxation tools and meditation and the importance of exercise and support etc etc etc. But I was still caught in the hampster wheel of hardly actually doing any of those things. Why?
To be sure, the answer is complicated. There were other factors that needed to be addressed––my physical and mental health primarily. But even to do that, I needed to actually believe that 1) my needs were real and 2) I deserved the effort it took to do something about them. That I was worthy of being cared for in ways that I never had before.
Instead, I would compare myself to others––my colleagues or classmates who were stressed, no doubt, but seemed to be able to do it all. If they could, I should be able to also, right? I just need to hustle harder, get organized, buckle down.
Instead, I would minimize my experience. I’m just tired, I’d think. When in reality, I was so exhausted I was stopping half way home just to rest + eat because I was too wiped out to do make the drive in one sitting. I’m just stressed, I’d think. When in reality, I was extremely absent-minded and forgetful, constantly feeling like a spinning top, an indicator that my anxiety is through the roof. It’ll be fine once I graduate, I’d think. The problem was that every single day was a loosing battle. There was no way I could make it another 8 or 10 weeks.
And I didn’t. I quit. I quit my internship early, which would end up delaying my graduation another year.
And in that moment that would have made me feel like a complete failure was actually one of the most important decisions I’ve made ––I was instead trying to believe that I deserved the care I obviously needed. That I wasn’t truly serving anyone if I was not functioning. That practically killing myself in the process was not sustainable.
I suspect this is a missing piece for others, as well. Maybe we rationalize why we don’t need xyz, or why we should be just fine. Maybe we compare ourselves to other people, and determine that the problem is with us, not that we need more support and care. Maybe we just always end up prioritizing others’ needs before our own, ending up putting ourselves on the backburner again and again. We know self-care is important, but the things we tell ourselves in our mind tells a different story.
The truth is we have to decide and believe that we deserve to feel rested, relaxed, and nurtured. That we’re allowed to need a break, need help, or need to quit. That it’s okay if we aren’t able to accomplish as much as we hoped. That our worth isn’t tied to what we produce or do for other people (because there’s no room for practicing self-care if we’re constantly needing to prove ourselves).
Believing we are worthy of our own care is often the disconnect between knowing about self-care and actually practicing it. If this resonates with you, here are some questions to get curious (not judgmental) about:
37-page Self-Care Guide + workbook is a complete resource for reflecting on how you’ve been caring for yourself and crafting a holistic, personalized self-care vision. Together we will address the mis-conceptions. Deepen our dialogue. Empower you in your practice. Tackle what what gets in the way. All of it.
by Kylie |
January 3, 2019
© Tend and Mend, Kylie Bennett 2019.
I'm Kylie. I’m a small-town California girl turned mental health therapist. Favorite things: babies (but don’t have my own!), comfy pants, and taking too many pictures. I'm all about realistic self-care, mental health for everyone, and personal growth even if you hate that phrase (cause I do!).