Sunday, January 1, 2017

Self Care For Mental Health Workers, Peer Support Specialists, IHSS Workers, Social Workers, Therapists & Healing Practitioners

Self Care For Mental Health Workers, Peer Support Specialists, IHSS Workers, Social Workers, Therapists & Healing Practitioners is your Number #1 Top Priority.

Be dedicated to it.

It will save your life and many others as well.

You're no good to anyone when you are burnt-out.

Wellness is a lot about prevention and delayed rewards, so it's extra important to create a daily wellness plan to have to keep at it.

Your health is important

Your mental health is important.

Your ability to speak and teach and mentor about recovery and wellness from your own experience is important.

You are a role model in helping others, so practice what you preach and you'll feel better and your clients will take notice too. Win-Win.

There are countless benefits to self-care, including the awesome accumulated effect is has on one's life. The more you do it and the longer you practice it, the better everything gets.

There's been a lot of new brain science out in the last couple years that shows self-care activities are healing the brain and stimulating the brain to heal you!  How awesome is that! It's like giving yourself a ton of healthy anti-depressants and anti-anxiety boosts rolled into one.

People usually come up with all the excuses and reasons why they can't keep at it or they're too busy or they'll forget. So here are some tips to make is super easy and fun to do that you look forward to.

First of all, only pick a few activities for your first daily routine. Even just one activity for 5 minutes is better than zero. So the first tip is make it EASY.

People like easy. If it feels easy, then you're more likely to do it. So this is not "goal setting" and this is not a "list of things to do", this is a wellness routine you can live with.

Second to easy is it has to be FUN!  People love to do things they find fun. So think of a few ideas of what you enjoy, what makes you happy and find some (or just one) fun activities that you could add into your daily routine.

Third, there's no way out of it so you might as well embrace it and find your favorite way to exercise.  There has to be some form of MOVEMENT in your daily routine. Even if it is to get up out of your chair more often. Sitting is the new smoking. If you must sit or lay down most of your day for whatever reason, get up an extra time each day and make that your movement daily routine for awhile.  You can always increase it later to getting up every 2 hours for a short walk around the house or office.

I know many of us collapse at night and on weekends. We give all we got to others who are so needy and need our help that we are spent and hit the bed face first and lay there for an hour before getting up the energy to eat. Or we lay on the couch and binge-watch our favorite shows and barely open the curtains.

Mental and physical exhaustion is real and it only gets worse over time so even though you may feel too tired to move, the more you move, the more energy you will have. "Motion is lotion", moving nourishes all your joints and blood and oxygen flow etc. etc.

If you're at this low point, then move more by doing some arm stretches or leg lifts during the commercials.

If you're not that far gone, then add in a daily walk or 15 minuets of yoga poses or anything you find easy and fun to do.  I started off with doing Qigong (self taught with YouTube vidoes) at home and it did wonders for my achy, stiff, exhausted body.

All you need to do is INCREASE your movement each day to accomplish this daily routine. Take more stairs, park father away in the parking lot at the store. Walk around, stretch, dance, yogo, Ti Chi, bouncing on an exercise ball, riding your bike, swimming, practice martial arts moves. Come up with your own routine. But so something physical each day and watch your mood improve and your body thank you with feeling stronger, more energetic and less aches and pains.

Fourth - SOCIAL SUPPORT - any social support will do; one on one with friends, chatting in an online group, face to face support groups, mentors, sponsors, hotlines, warm lines. As long as you are social with one human being per day and that you increase your options of social support from people who have something in common with you - you are fulfilling your social support need. Even journal writing or self-help book reading can be a form of social support, but try to do every other day with a real human being. We need touch, we need the personal energy of being with people, and we're social being with a real need to engage and connect.

If nothing else, say hello to everyone you pass by or every clerk at the store, etc. Don't go inside forever even if you are the world's most introverted person, we still need each other. Weed out the assholes that give us good people a bad name, and look for like-minded future friends who are cool.

Fifth - have at least one GOAL you are working on in your life and each day take a tiny or large step toward it. Part of your daily routine should include taking at least 1 action that is moving you closer to accomplishing something that you really want. Decide what that one thing is and write down some actions you need to take to get there, and each day try to accomplish a baby step in that direction. Even if you spend time brainstorming your goal, that counts. So focus on your desires, wishes, dreams and goals, pick a few you can work towards over time and each day take one.

You'll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment and eventually you will have the reward of the goal complete and you'll be excited to set new goals to work toward. Don't over-do it, pick 1-3, maybe 5 top goals for the year and find every day actions that you can easily do toward them. Drop them if you have to and just stick to one at a time. Be nice to yourself, don't overwhelm yourself with workaholic frenzy and then beat yourself up for not being superwoman. No one can. One of my first goals was to learn Qigong. There were 18 moves I had to learn and memorize, so I got my movement and my goal action done at the same time. That's not cheating to combine goals. It's actually a very smart thing to set goals around your daily routine.

It's the daily routine over time that will save your ass in the long run anyway.


Each day treat yourself to something pleasurable that you enjoy or is relaxing, refreshing or just plain feels good.  This could be anything because everyone is different. It could be losing yourself in a book or an art project, it could be enjoying your favorite songs, it could be a bubble bath, it could be fixing your favorite meal, taking a joy ride in the car exploring a new part of your town, it could be a hobby or a pet, or playing games or watching comedy shows. Anything that feels good, makes you feel good and that you're glad you did it when you look back on it later.

Seventh Tip is: REWARD yourself!  Give yourself rewards and treats for getting things done and for doing your routine. You can even "trick" yourself into doing your routine by making it mandatory for you to get an activity done before you can "reward" yourself with going back to sitting around doing nothing all day. If you're so tired you just need rest, then make yourself get something done first. For example, I use to run out of something on purpose and then have to walk to the corner store to go get it and then I'd say hello to the store clerk and walk back with my item. Then I'd crash on the couch and watch my favorite movies. After a few hours, I made myself stretch and do leg lifts on the commercials.  I'd put on my favorite music and before you knew it I had the urge to get up and dance a few minuets.  The secret to rewards is it gives you an incentive to get something done you might otherwise ignore.

Keep in mind you might not feel like doing any of these things - the whole point of a daily routine you plan in advance and try to accomplish each day (no one is perfect, so don't worry if you don't get it all done every day, instead strive to get what you can done).  The point is having a routine you can get back to or start over again each day.  If you have it planned and you already know there's a benefit in it for you later, then its easier to just do it as a homework assignment rather than wait until you "feel like it" to get it done.

Remember, the more you do, the better you feel. Not the other way around... so sometimes you have to force yourself to jump-start the doing and then you feel better later.

Self-Care and Wellness are things we do to prevent future break-downs. So have a think and brainstorm your daily wellness self-care routine and then get one thing done TODAY!!

Here's an Example of one of my first WELLNESS ROUTINES:

G - Goal:  Learn 18 Qigong moves
R - Reward: Reward myself by watching my favorite shows
A - Action: Practice a Qigong move and try to do without watching video
P - Pleasure: Enjoy chocolate, cafe moca or lose self in coloring
E - Exercise: Practice a Qigong move and try to memorize it
S - Social: Say hello to everyone I come across.

Now, this might not seem like much, and it may seem like the over-lap in activities is "cheating", but hey, it got me going. It got me doing. It got me used to a daily routine of self-care and wellness.

A year after this I was riding my bike almost every day and my goal was to go a little farther each day. I had built up to about 5 miles!  And then I learned tennis!  One does not just go from the couch depressed to playing I right? But look where that little Qigong move got me over time.

Another time my goal was to read a long book and so each day I read a page.

I set little fun goals and big challenging goals and tried to mix it up so I wouldn't get bored. I made it fun and easy and gave myself a reward. The best news is that after a few years I was feeling the best I had felt in years and feeling younger and more alive and energetic and that made me a much better mental health counselor.

It's tough work helping people. It may take a couple years to learn the balance of helping others without it affecting you or making you exhausted. But its rewarding and fulfilling work and forces us to take self-care seriously which in the end is a gift in itself.

When you give yourself things to do you create an experience. THAT experience is causing your brain to trigger all the good neurotransmitters to help you feel better and heal your tired old brain and body. Doing may be fun, but its the after-glow affect that you savor and allow in that heals you on the inside. The more self-care experiences you have, the better you feel and the harder it is to relapse into bad feelings.

Remember, with depression, stress, exhaustion, you are feeling worse and doing less and its a downward spiral. When you create a wellness self-care routine you are doing more and feeling better. You are in effect, arresting the downward spiral and creating momentum for the upward spiral and it's accumulated effects that turn into self-rewarding loops.

Try it and see for yourself.

P.S. (Tell the inner critic to shut up and don't let it stop you from taking good care of yourself and giving yourself nurturing love, pleasure and attention.  You can even play creative games with your inner critic and say, "I suck at dancing? Ok, lets see (dance for a few minutes), "there, did that suck?", ok, whatever, thanks for sharing, but I still got my exercise in so the joke's on you inner critic, ha ha ha, I didn't do it good enough but at least I did it!  And it felt GOOD!)

Please SHARE using Social Media Buttons Below. There's someone out there would will appreciate you for it. Thank you! JP Bailey, M.A. Interested in EFT for Codependency Recovery? Get Relief from Emotional Pain & Relationship Issues! Blog: FB: Twitter: Kindle Book: "EFT for Codependency"

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