On Self-Care

It seems that as much as we talk about self-care with our clients, in our classes, and among colleagues we still have a long way to go when it comes to self-care. I recently heard in one of our classes how people in the mental health professions seem to be on the lower end statistics when it comes to self-care. Isn’t it scary?

A lot of us come into this profession because we like to help others. We like to see others get better, we like to take care of others and even so, statistics seem to reveal that we are a group of people who don’t take a lot of care of ourselves as some professionals in other fields do. Interesting, huh? When I heard about these numbers (I don’t have the formal stats, but constantly people in the field talk about this as a fact, as something that is known), I then realized why MSPP really do take care of us by constantly encouraging us into taking care of ourselves. And I really appreciate it.

I remember last year in orientation week we had a very interesting and useful talk on self-care. How self care is not only about balancing our time, but also really about nurturance: nurturing all the parts of ourselves (body-mind-soul) necessary for our learning to be productive and over all, meaningful (and yes, the basics of self-care say that we really need to sleep and nourish our bodies with other things besides caffeine to be able to function adequately and bring more quality into our work).

In theory this sounds great, but in practice this can sometimes be very hard, especially when it all starts to happen. I remember one year ago I was substantially overwhelmed with all the school and practicum work, adding to it the fact that we are in a field that deals with human emotions (so really, self-care is not an option, is a must).

Adding to the huge amount of work, I had to deal (as everyone else) with the adjustment process of starting MSPP. For me, that process involved getting used to “the new C’s”: a new City, a new Country, and a new Culture. It took a while to have it all together and start wondering about my path into taking care of myself, and what I understood about it; as frequently I would feel I was not taking care of myself because I was not going to a dance class, as it is something that I really enjoy (it is nourishment for my mind, body, and soul).

After I got over this mini self-flagellation, I started to think about all the possible things that I could actually do that involved self-care. I found that writing, going for walks around the neighborhood (instead of wanting to go every time to a perfect magical place), and having quality family time with my dog (Maruru) and my husband were substantially beneficial for me. Also, I started to pay attention to food and sleep so I cut back on refined sugars and meats, it really helped.

Once I felt more adjusted to my new life, I added some of my old passions to it, such as going to low-cost psychoanalysis (which I found through MSPP) and to interesting psychodynamic conferences every time I could. I have found that sticking to my passions within psychology is important for me as it helps me to generate questions and integrate other complimentary learning experiences into the whole MSPP experience, and that is one of the wonderful things about MSPP being in Boston: that learning can be highly personalized in an ideal scenario.

Coming back to this year: yesterday I went to a modern dance class at the Boston Ballet dance studios! I am very happy that I am going back to it, although I now know that I don’t need to do it as a self-care rigid statement. In fact, I’ve found that every time I find myself being “disciplined” about self-care the concept seems to dissolve, and then I go back to the basic concept of bringing enjoyment to whatever it is that I’m doing, while I build back into the whole self-care lifestyle again. When I feel I’m losing my self-care positivism, I try to think ofMaruru and her enjoyment for life. If you are thinking on coming to MSPP, I highly recommend starting thinking about self-care now as a way of living, as opposed to a far off concept that seems so away.

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