Try These Tips to Make Time for Self-Care
Jade L. H. Letourneau, LPC, NCC
Idaho State University
Graduate Student Committee Western Region Liaison
If you are like me, you have heard repeatedly in your counseling training about how important self-care is. You have heard how lack of self-care can lead to burnout, poor health, and strained relationships. And, if you are like me, you rarely hear how to actually find time for self-care while juggling schoolwork, internships, job responsibilities, and a personal life.
In the midst of completing a graduate program, self-care can seem like a far-off luxury. By the time you get your license and are practicing, it can feel like a distant memory of something you once wanted to do. In the chaos of daily life, what we all know is critical to good client care and our own well-being becomes elusive.
What follows are some time-management tips to help you take care of yourself. Since these are just suggestions, I encourage you to choose the ones that work for you, and find your own additional ways to make taking care of yourself routine.
- Keep a calendar. This is a simple task. Most mobile phones have a calendar that will sync to your computer or tablet. If a paper calendar works better for you, use paper. Being able to look ahead and see what is coming will help you plan better.
- Write a to-do list daily. Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to write a to-do list. If you are a morning person, do this in the morning. If you are a night person, do it the night before. As you complete tasks, check them off your list. You may be surprised how rewarding crossing something off your list can feel.
- Prioritize your to-do list. Not all tasks are of equal importance. Organize your to-do list from most important to least important. You do not need to go straight down the list.
- If there is a quick and easy task closer to the bottom, get it done and check it off. Carry the undone items over to tomorrow’s list.
- Remember to put self-care on your to-do list. These self-care entries should be things that are achievable and appealing to you. If you can couple it with a task already on your list, that is a double reward. Examples of this could be: “Take the dogs on a long walk,” and “Play a game with my kids.”
- Learn to say no. As counselors, we are helpers. Sometimes this makes it hard for us to say no. Do not feel guilty saying no if you do not have the time, energy, or desire to help.
- Break large projects into small pieces. Writing a paper or completing a project the night before it is due is something most of us have all done at one time. Sleep deprivation is certainly not amenable to self-care. Create a work-back schedule from the due date and set mini-deadlines within it.
- Be kind to yourself. Self-care should not produce more anxiety than it relieves. If you miss an intended self-care activity, remind yourself that there is still time. You can plan something else.
Keep up with GSC activities ...
... and stay in touch with clinical
mental health counseling peers through AMHCA’s graduate students Facebook page
Questions? Ideas for Advocate articles?
Contact GSC Chair April Krowel at firstname.lastname@example.org.