I was very excited to hear about the launch of SelfCare Psychology and honoured to be asked to write a guest blog as over the last few years I've been on my own journey of discovery working out what SelfCare is!
When I first heard the term SelfCare a few years ago I wasn't really sure what it meant; I related it to personal care as in the basics of showering, putting make up on and doing my hair and thought I had it covered!
Since then, and through exploration in my counselling training, my eyes have been opened.
I learnt a valuable lesson that SelfCare is not crisis intervention, like when you have to press that little red alarm box on the wall in an emergency, but that SelfCare is a lifestyle choice.
Looking back now I realise it took me a while to grasp it. I think I was almost fighting against it, and there was a point where if I sat and did 'nothing,' I would feel guilty.
I would have to make sure absolutely everything was done before I allowed myself to 'sit', but my mind still fought against it and I remember thinking how can doing nothing be so difficult! Looking back as I write this I realise I've come a long way on my SelfCare journey since then!
When my life changed dramatically overnight, due to a medical procedure going wrong, which affected my mobility, I was forced to re assess. I had to really look at what SelfCare was going to look like for me, to enable me to continue with my counselling training, and it's then that I really learnt what it truly meant and it became a priority in my life.
I remember sitting by the sea and thinking how life had changed and how I missed being able to do yoga, I asked myself what was it about yoga? I realised that when I used to step on my mat something incredible happened and I felt recharged. I realised it was an experience where I was totally in the moment, concentrating on my breathing and the asanas and it felt like a power break. So I sat thinking, how can I recreate this feeling off the mat as it were. That's when I realised it was about mindfulness; living in the moment more and checking in with myself throughout the day, asking myself what it is I needed and listening to my body, showing myself some kindness and compassion.
Instead of thinking about things I couldn't do I thought about new doors that could open; mindful cooking, mindful photography, trying to create the yoga mat essence in normal day to day activities.
This lead me to explore meditation and I set up a beautiful meditation zone at home creating a space where I can go and 'just be' and listen to guided meditations without being disturbed.
It's ironic how it took a life changing event for me to understand what SelfCare actually is. It has allowed me to be kinder to myself and being in the therapeutic world of counselling and having sat in both chairs it has given me an experiential touchstone, a greater understanding to be able
to explore what SelfCare means with my own clients.
I think checking in with ourselves, regularly through the day, and asking ourselves what we need and then listening and responding to that is a good foundation for SelfCare. It can be a small thing such as making time for that coffee and drinking it outside listening to the birds and feeling the warmth or coolness of the air and just 'being' for a few moments instead of having a never ending 'to do list' and I'll take a break when it's all done attitude. I've learnt that putting yourself and SelfCare on the top of that 'to do' list makes everything else a lot easier and others around you benefit from it too, especially in the counselling profession!
Quite simply SelfCare is good for the spirit and soul! #Namaste
Michelle will be 40 in September, when she says, ‘life begins!’ She is coming to the end of her BACP, gold standard, counselling training in a few weeks and is looking forward to November when she'll be fully qualified to set up her own counselling practice which she’s very passionate about and will be a dream come true! She is also working on another dream of hers: writing a book. Find Michelle on twitter at @Mwrites2.