Learn About Self-Care Psychology

By: Sarah Fader

Updated January 25, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

Self-care is an essential practice that we need to engage in that helps your body and your mind. It’s as simple as taking breaks throughout the day. When you take care of yourself, you take care of your needs and wants. The American Psychological Association has some great resources on self-care. The bottom line is, you need to take care of yourself so you can be well. Part of that is being mindful of job stress and family relationships that can impact your wellbeing. But there’s more to self-care than just taking a bubble bath or having a cup of tea at the end of a long day. If you don’t take care of yourself, it can lead to burnout. It’s essential to make an effort to integrate self-care skills into your life because you need to be stable to take care of yourself and others. Your family life will improve when you take care of yourself, and it’s crucial to get quality sleep at night. That way, you are rested for the next day. When you don’t take care of yourself and do not sleep well, it’s a vicious cycle. Poor sleep can lead to mental health issues. Mental wellness involves getting an adequate amount of sleep so that you can function during the day. Poor sleep habits are challenging to break, and that’s why it’s good to get on a routine. The more that you practice self-care, the better you will get at it. One of the integral parts of taking care of yourself is self-compassion, which can connect with self-care.

Self Compassion: What Is It And Why Does It Matter?

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Self-care is different from self-compassion. When you take care of yourself, you’re putting effort into your wellbeing. Self-care means putting your needs first. On the other hand, self-compassion is about being kind to yourself. When a friend is suffering, it’s easy to be compassionate because they’re not you. You want your friend to be able to feel better, and you can be there for them, empathize with their pain, you can provide them with self-care resources to help themselves. You pay attention to their feelings, and you may even offer them a support group to join. It’s much easier to be there for someone else than engaging in self-care for yourself. But, it’s crucial to practice self-compassion. Self-compassion means being empathetic and compassionate towards you. Kristen Neff, an Associate Professor at the University of Texas Austin in the Educational Psychology Department, has written a great deal about self-compassion. What Neff asserts is that self-compassion is part of a human experience. Here are the steps that you need to take into account when you are self-compassionate.

  1. Notice Suffering– This might seem intuitive, but many people ignore their suffering. For example, you might gloss over it. Let’s say that you’re feeling depressed because you lost your job and you’re having trouble getting out of bed and looking for a new position. Take some time and notice, I’m feeling really bad right now, and that’s difficult; I’m feeling like a failure or all the negative thoughts that go through your head. There’s nothing wrong with noticing that you are having a difficult time. You would do the same for a friend, so it’s essential to do so for yourself.
  2. Being Kind And Compassionate- The next step after you notice your suffering is being human to yourself. It’s difficult to have feelings of inadequacy. Have an open heart toward you, the same way that you would a good friend.
  3. No One Is Perfect- And the third thing is to remember imperfection is part of the human experience. What makes us human beings is that we make mistakes; we are not perfect. Perfection is a myth, and that’s why it’s crucial to remember that you are part of a larger human experience if you are imperfect.

The great thing about self-compassion is that you will always be there for yourself. Friends can come and go, but you are a constant in your life, and the more that you are self-compassionate, the better relationship you’ll have with yourself, and you’ll be able to model that for others. Self-compassion is a huge part of self-care psychology. And part of self-care psychology means learning about self-compassion.

Therapists Need To Take Care Of Themselves Too

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Self-care psychology applies to individuals but also to mental health professionals. A big part of self-care means acknowledging that you’re human. When you find a therapist, and you work with them, remember that they are human beings. Though they may be accredited by the American Psychological Association, they’re a person with feelings. They are there to help you, but they also engage in self-care because they wouldn’t be present to support you if they didn’t. Their professional psychology is different from their stance on caring for themselves. Your therapist is not above you in any way. They are just a human being who understands psychology and wants to show you how you can achieve personal growth. Therapists need to spend time working through their professional distress because it’s not easy to be a mental health professional. So just understand that you might be struggling and comparing yourself to your therapist and thinking that they’re some sort of superhero. They’re human beings, and they are there to help you learn to engage in self-care exercises such as taking time to eat. Maybe you are struggling with depression eating, and you find that you’re over-consuming food. You can talk to a therapist about something because they’re a person who understands feelings. Depression eating is a vicious cycle where if you’re eating a lot of food because you are sad and you want to fill a void, it’s difficult to break out of that. But, a therapist does understand that because they are part of the shared human experience.

Self Care, Psychology, And Sleep

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A big part of self-care is eating and sleeping. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s a good idea to look for sleep care resources. When you sleep, you nourish your body and mind, and you’re less likely to feel worse during the day. There’s nothing quite like feeling professional distress. If you’re at your job and feel like you haven’t slept enough or haven’t taken care of yourself, you might be scared that you will lose your position because of having poor sleep. These sleep issues can lead to different problems with your family life, and it’s crucial to make sure that you get enough sleep. Even for helping professions, this can be true. Therapists need to sleep well because they are working with clients during the day. Early career psychologists need to be especially mindful of their energy levels. They don’t want to burn out. Remember, a therapist has a demanding job. And in their early career, it’s essential to be awake and alert to work with their clients. So, no matter who you are, you need to remember that sleeping is essential. If you need to find self-care resources for sleep, they are out there. When you find a therapist, who can treat your mental health problems, they may provide resources to get a better night’s sleep.

Should I find A therapist?

You may be practicing self-care each day, and it doesn’t appear to be enough to better your mental health. If that’s the case, you might want to find a therapist who can help you learn techniques to take care of yourself. Some people are fearful of seeing a mental health professional. Maybe they’re convinced that they don’t need a counselor or therapist. They might be ashamed of the stigma associated with therapy. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you’re struggling and want to find a therapist. It’s similar to what you would do if you had a physical ailment. You would see a doctor about the issue. The same thing goes for mental health. You can find a therapist who’s ready to help you work through your mental health concerns, and that includes taking care of yourself.

Online Therapy Can Help

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Practicing self-care each day helps you feel good about yourself. Another thing you can do to better your life is to find a therapist. Every session you attend with your therapist each day helps you better your mental health. There are many different types of therapy, including online counseling. Online therapy is an excellent place to get the help that you need to live your best life. Therapists are well-versed in professional psychology and how it relates to self-care. They understand how crucial it is to take care of yourself and be gentle with yourself as well. Self-compassion is a part of the process of self-care so, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. That support could include an effort to find a therapist. When you see a mental health professional, you can learn about different therapy types, such as positive psychology. This type of counseling can lead to personal growth. Positive Psychology focuses on what’s right with you rather than what’s wrong. Your inner critic can run rampant when you are not practicing self-compassion. The therapists at BetterHelp want to help you and support you through tough times and encourage you to live your best life. They may recommend a support group that can provide you with additional resources. Still, individual counseling is crucial to your mental health, especially during isolation, when we cannot see somebody in person. Support groups can provide an extra level of community that we need during the pandemic. Mental health professionals are available online and don’t be afraid to reach out to them when you need support.

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