“Self-Care” is such a hot topic lately, but there’s more to it than most people think. It’s more than just an idea. It’s the practice of being self-aware and knowing when it’s time for a break before you break yourself. As a mental health professional, I frequently provide a tool to clients that is incredibly universal and beneficial. That tool, however, can be used by anyone.
Self-Care is not a Hobby, Please Stop Treating it Like One
I’ve noticed that the use of the term “self-care” has become immensely popularized. I believe we all do things that contribute to our overall wellness; we just didn’t always label it self-care until recently. I love that self-care practices are being talked about and used by more people, but I also think it’s important to note that self-care isn’t like taking a selfie, posting it on Instagram with a filter, then adding hashtags for likes. Self-care is a real thing because it’s really needed.
Self-Care Can’t be Used Without Support to Use Self-Care
A few months ago I posted about the Mental Health Crisis happening in Oklahoma. While legislators found a way to fund outpatient services through April of 2018, the fight continues. If you follow me on Facebook, then you saw the pictures I posted from the State Capitol rallying to “Save Our Services” with other Oklahoman’s. That week was mentally exhausting. The emotional burden of hearing that all outpatient services might get cut state-wide, to the fear and worry I internalized for my young clients and families. And of course, for my own family and what losing my job would mean for us. But, we still had a job to do which was to attend to the complex mental health needs of children. At the end of that week I drug myself into the Friday morning staff meeting, but before we began, my supervisor handed each staff member two slips of paper that were major “self-care” game changers.
She gave us a personal safety plan that could be cut down into wallet card size to keep with us all the time. On an individual basis, this safety plan allows you to be honest with yourself by identifying signs of burn-out early; something only you can do. It provides the opportunity to identify your own course of action and early intervention to prevent burn-out and use self-care tactics that work for you.self-care isn’t like taking a selfie, posting it on Instagram with a filter, then adding hashtags for likes. Self-care is a real thing because it’s really needed for people. Click To Tweet
What Self-Care Should Look Like
I primarily work with youth and adolescents, I see and hear appalling and terrifying circumstances. Nevertheless, hope, resilience, and fight in the clients I serve also exists. The negative aspects can quickly overcome any professional.
Making sure you take care of you is crucial. That’s one thing I love about my job is the support and guidance I receive from co-workers and supervisors on self-help. Until summer of 2016, I never had an employer with such genuine interest in how my family and I are doing. I have a personal fear of becoming burnt out, and I say it’s a fear because I love my job and I don’t want to wake up one day and find myself hating the work I do. My supervisors and co-workers are so engaged and aware of one another that they can often point out the onset of burnout and the need for self-care before I can. Support to utilize self-care practices should come from those that are closest to you – friends, co-workers, supervisors, spouses, partners, etc.
Self-Care & Safety Plan
For this portion of the post I teamed up with my friend Katrina, a therapist from Oklahoma City who works with teens and young adults. Katrina also runs her own website and blog at K. Nicole Writing with tons of mental health resources and informational material. Her resource tab alone is phenomenal, and because of that, we joined forces to share what a personal safety plan entails from a clinical perspective, why they’re needed, and how effective they truly are.
When an individual is experiencing suicidal ideation or self-harming but doesn’t meet criteria for hospitalization, safety plans are great tools to implement to help reduce the risk of harmful behaviors. Safety plans are a preventative approach to avoid mental health crises, reduce unstable moods and emotions, and identify signs of “burn out.” This method helps gauge a client’s feelings and guides the professional in making informed clinical decisions. For individuals that experience emotional or mental distress but do not necessarily require treatment, putting a safety plan into action helps them better identify when they’re at risk of danger and need to seek immediate help.
With a safety plan in place, you will not only be able to identify the triggers and know who to reach out to, you will also develop coping skills that alleviate undesired feelings. This safety plan includes strategies that help you feel safe, more in control, and hopeful. It’s also important to remember to keep it easily accessible. If you ever discover new triggers, ways to cope, and sources of support don’t hesitate to modify it. It is your very own personalized safety plan to help meet your needs.
Your Free Printable
Now that you know what self-care should look like, and how personal safety plans can be used with anyone in any field of work – with or without mental health battles Katrina and I are providing readers with a FREE printable download! Just click the links below, and save or print. Use and share with friends, family members, clients, and for yourself. The printable will also be available on K. Nicole Writing in her resource tab.
After you use this printable, Katrina and I would love to hear your feedback! Leave a comment here with me, or there with her, or on any social media platform – because we’re on all of them!