Last week I attended a One Girl Band expertise session hosted by Lola Hoad on the subject of self care. The session was presented by Dionne Elizabeth, self care expert Brighton, from Changing the Menu. Dionne creates art, music and wellness projects and promised to talk about how to “find, adapt and implement self care techniques into our daily working lives”. The event listing said:
We will be covering a range of related subjects including mindfulness, meditation, food + nutrition, being + living well, work/life balance, combating busy-ness, energy, creativity, and self care.
Often when I am working with clients who are under a lot of stress, or struggling with anxiety or depression, their self care routines are the first things to slip. This is completely understandable – we all know that feeling of being under pressure, something has to give and we let our own wellbeing be that thing – but it’s actually at times like these that we need to look after ourselves the most, both so that we can cope, but also so that we can effectively be there for others. You’ve got to put your own oxygen mask on first.
I decided to go along, thinking it sounded like an interesting experience and hoping that I might pick up some new ideas both for my clients and for myself, as it is vital that therapists take the very best care of themselves so we can be there in a full and open way for our clients.
Self care expert Brighton Dionne was an interesting and inspirational speaker and the activities we did were eye-opening. For example, Dionne asked us to draw a pie chart of how we used our time on an average day, divided into categories such as work (which might include paid and unpaid tasks), time spent with family (which might include parenting or caring), social time with friends, time for sleep or rest, movement or health, and pleasure. Many of the attendees were surprised by how they divided up their time when they thought about it like this. Some even asked what pleasure might include, highlighting our cultural need for more time spent enjoying ourselves just for the sake of our own wellness.
We looked at the rituals we can create for ourselves for our own wellbeing, such as walking, writing, and maintaining our social connections; other ways that we prioritise our awareness of our feelings and needs; how to set and maintain boundaries; the importance of our support networks; and ways that we can be kinder to ourselves, such as making sure we are eating and sleeping as well as possible, and making time to play.
I also scribbled down a few little tips over the course of the evening, such as:
- set a bedtime alarm if you struggle to get to bed on time
- set your phone to automatically switch to ‘do not disturb’ at set times of day
- change your password to a word that reminds you of the change you want to make in your life right now
Ultimately self care expert Brighton Dionne stated her aim for the session to be that the attendees “craft their own meaning of self care and ways to access it that are sustainable”. She also asked the question “do you feel like you deserve to look after yourself?”
I think Dionne’s focus on those two things was insightful, because I often find in my work with clients that improving their sense of wellbeing comes through a two-pronged approach: considering things they can do for themselves every day to help themselves feel better, but also looking at the root causes, or how they came to find themselves in a place of self-neglect. In that way, with both understanding and practice, lasting changes can be made.
If you would like to work with a self care expert Brighton and Hove, I can help. You can read more of my ideas for self care here, or if you would like to book an appointment to discuss this in person, please get in touch.