“Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort.” ~ Fred Rogers
Life can be draining. We are constantly surrounded by a barrage of common, everyday stressors like financial strain; employment, unemployment or deployment; addiction; sickness; or familial discord. If we are not careful, life’s demands can overwhelm, frustrate, and discourage us. Self-care is a tried-and-true method prescribed by therapists and other professionals to help clients improve their overall health. And, thankfully, the recent focus on self-care has placed importance on taking stock in what you need to fill your cup, feel happy and less stressed, and be more capable of tackling life’s challenges. I have a suggestion that ticks all those boxes: Therapy as self-care.
Benefits to Self-Care
You may already have a self-care regimen. It likely includes bubble baths, rigorous workouts, spa days, creative or musical outlets, spending time outdoors, meditation, repeating empowering mantras, practicing gratitude… the options are endless. Self-care is the art of taking an active role in protecting your own well-being and happiness–especially during periods of stress. Self-care is how you unwind, how you recharge, how you work through emotions; it is how you connect with yourself and your inner needs. Self-care is beneficial for you and is always worth the time you put into it.
Benefits to Therapy
Therapy gives you the opportunity to focus on yourself. Instead of repressing emotions, you work through them. Therapy connects you to the capable, grateful, calm side of yourself. Therapists are not there to solve your problems; instead, they help you develop tools for dealing with particularly tough emotions. Abraham Maslow once said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Therapy gives you additional tools you need for when a hammer is not working. Therapy enables you to lead your best life, overcome any obstacles that come your way, and helps you take care of yourself so you can take care of everyone and everything that depends on you.
The benefits of self-care and therapy are strikingly similar; that is because therapy is a form of self-care. Yes, therapy is yet another way to practice self-care! We often overlook or ignore it because of the stigma that therapy is shameful and should only be used as a last resort. This could not be farther from the truth! Therapy should not be a last resort, and it most certainly is not reserved only for those who have suffered a trauma or loss. Rather, therapy can benefit anyone trying to better manage the challenges of being a human in this complex world. Mental health and self-care are important, regardless of whether that includes regular girls’ nights out and yoga, or weekly therapy sessions and medication. We should never be ashamed of doing what we need to do to be healthy and happy so we can live our best lives and be our best selves.
Yes, you could talk with your mother or best friend(s) about what is weighing you down (it might seem easier to talk with someone you know about your innermost thoughts and fears). Or, you could try therapy and see that being vulnerable gets easier with time — even easier, in fact, than confessing your musings to those closest to you. Your therapist will not judge or try to fix you, nor will he/she compare or one-up his/her own experiences with yours (like sometimes your friends and family might). Your therapist will listen and offer guidelines for how to navigate your complex emotions. The skills you learn in therapy can be carried over into every aspect of your life. The ROI from therapy is unmatched!
Self-care is about setting aside time to understand your issues, take a break, heal, and empower yourself. Doing planks while working out strengthens your core muscles. Repeating empowering mantras lifts you up. Going through therapy strengthens your hope that life can get better. Working with a therapist supplies you with strategies to deal with the bad days. Therapy is self-care; though I am biased, I might argue that therapy is one of the best forms of self-care. Start the new year right by adding therapy to your self-care regimen. Contact me today to get started!
Melissa Cluff is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Lewisville, Texas, personally seeing clients in the North Dallas area.
- BuzzFeed: “10 Soothing Self-Care Tips Straight From Therapists”
- Central Counseling Services: “17 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate YOU to Start Therapy Today”
- Cluff Counseling: “8 Unique Ways to Practice Self-care”
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- Cluff Counseling: “A Letter From Your Future Therapist: 5 Things I Want My Clients To Know”
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- Cluff Counseling: “Making 2018 Your Year: Resolutions”
- Cluff Counseling: “The Most Forgotten of the Human Needs”
- Cluff Counseling: “The Not-So-Secret Recipe to a Successful Relationship”
- Cluff Counseling: “The Power Behind Vulnerability”
- Cluff Counseling: “Self-care: Is it Selfish?”
- Cluff Counseling: “Self-Compassion: A Neglected Form of Self-Care”
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- Forbes: “11 Intriguing Reasons To Give Talk Therapy A Try”
- Jonathan W. Kanter, Jonathan S. Schildcrout & Robert J. Kohlenberg (2005) In vivo processes in cognitive therapy for depression: Frequency and benefits, Psychotherapy Research, 15:4, 366-373, DOI: 10.1080/10503300500226316
- Pop Sugar: “Sometimes Self-Care Means Going to Therapy, or at Least That’s True For Me”
- Sydney Morning Herald: “It’s time we make therapy as a method of self-care acceptable’