Self-Care is defined by the Student Affairs of the University of Kentucky as the following: "Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health."
They have a great publication about the different areas of self-care and some tips and ideas for ways to implement self-care. Read more about it here.
As a therapist, self-care is a big part of being successful. Because therapists are constantly confronted with the physical, mental, and emotional needs of others, it is important to take time to remove that "stress" from our bodies, minds, and spirits. But this post is not about self-care for the therapist, but about encouraging care-givers (parents, grandparents, siblings, and other people that are responsible for other human beings) to practice self-care.
As a therapist, it is a part of our education to be very aware of self-care and the importance it plays into us being able to do our job to the best of our ability.... but it doesn't seem to be a priority in other areas of education or society. As a therapist, I am able to see the benefits of a care-giver who takes time for his or her self and, vice versa, the hindrances of a care-giver who does not set aside time and resources for his or her own needs. This is in no way a criticism of any person. We ALL have times in life where we forget about ourselves and what WE need. Life gets busy and we do our very best just to put one foot in front of the other.
In Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (pictured below), he lists specifically what a person needs to take care of in order to reach "self-actualization". In order for a care-giver to be able to attend to another person's needs, he or she must make sure they are fulfilling all the levels of care for his or her self.
There might be other areas that need addressing in order for someone to feel "whole" (i.e. physical wellness and spirituality), but whatever it is that needs attention, it is IMPORTANT.
Caregivers who practice self-care are better able to provide care to their child or loved one. They are able to really HEAR what their loved one's needs include. They are able to PROBLEM SOLVE or LOOK FOR RESOURCES to meet their loved one's needs. They are able to really ENGAGE and BE PRESENT in their loved one's journey of growth.
I'll just go ahead and say that pedicures are a really great form of self-care... Not that I would know anything about that, though. (cough, cough). :) I've just heard that they are really good for the soul.
Take care of yourselves.
-Miquel Garland, MT-BC