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Self-Care

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

I strongly believe that I cannot model for my clients a state of being that I haven't mastered or embodied.

The Buddha said,"Treat yourself as if you were a loving mother holding their child".

With our time-poor lives, our focus can be pitched to activities that we judge as yielding visible results such as work, raising children and maintaining our homes.

“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.

– Unknown


Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.


Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with ourselves and others.

If you had asked me what self-care was in the past I would have said it was getting a massage, having an Epsom salt bath, getting regular manicures, visiting the hairdressers instead of doing my own do and having regular facials.

I believe that there are various levels to self-care and in hindsight I see the above list as grooming.

The next level of self-care for me is: eating well, engaging in regular exercise, practising yoga and meditation, swimming and spending time in the ocean and seeking therapy when I need extra mental and emotional support.


These are activities that I've come to enjoy, and engaging in these activities are a demonstration of care for myself.

I would label this level of self-care as maintenance. These activities assist in maintaining my physical and psychological well-being.


As a therapist those listed above are not luxuries but are necessities for me in order to support my clients effectively and hold a safe space when facilitating workshops.

According to Nelson et. al, If counsellors do not learn to care for themselves, they may experience stress in their personal and professional lives, leading to burnout. Part of my role is to model self care for my clients. I strongly believe that I cannot model for my clients a state of being that I haven't mastered or embodied.

I also believe that if I don't engage in maintenance self-care I can easily project my own emotional states onto my clients or take on their emotional reality.

The Buddha said,"Treat yourself as if you were a loving mother holding their child".

As women who are used to being other focused, the idea of taking time out of all the things we have to do and just do nothing, which is what self-care can feel like for some of us, is unthinkable or impractical.


With our time-poor lives, our focus can be pitched to activities that we judge as yielding visible results such as work, raising children and maintaining our homes.

The next level of self-care for me is not allowing myself to harbour negative thoughts, to monitor my internal critic and to practise self-compassion.

Lazarus defines compassion as being moved by another’s suffering and wanting to help. Buddhist psychology believes that compassion for self is just as essential as compassion for others.

Again as a therapist, I could not do my job if I was unable to be compassionate to those I work with. It would be incongruent for me to be compassionate to my clients and yet be unable to exercise self-compassion.


Nelson et al agrees that having compassion for oneself allows counsellors to develop the emotional capabilities and skills needed to show compassion towards others.

For me self-compassion is forgiving myself quickly when I make a mistake or act in ways that are far from skilful. It's also not holding myself up to unrealistic ideals of perfection or not imposing onto myself the belief that I have to have all the answers.


Self-compassion is being kind and gentle to myself, allowing myself time to learn new things and praising myself often for small wins.

Jack Kornfield sums it up beautifully in this quote,

"If your compassion doesn’t include yourself, it is incomplete"


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