Whatever You Need ll By Rich Brodt

Among my efforts to help my clients take better care of themselves, I have run into barriers with getting clients to buy into the idea of self-care. For whatever reason, many people hear those words and immediately think I am trying to convince them to pick up some athletic activity that will be difficult to enjoy. This narrow view often leads individuals to blow off the idea of finding activities that will be beneficial to their physical and mental well being.

The truth is, self-care can be just about anything, and long as you are doing it to actively meet one of your needs.

Self-care is picking up that book of poems you have had your eye on for the past couple months, it is buying that latte at the fancy coffee shop once in a while, it is texting that friend who always makes you laugh, it is scheduling that massage youve been wanting. Self-care does not require you to force yourself to do things you dont enjoy simply because they are good for you. It is about finding relaxation, and mental peace – and treating it like a chore becomes counterproductive.

Look, having a self-care routine can be great. Ive had routines that I maintained in the past, which were extremely helpful, until the circumstances changed and the routine became more difficult to maintain.

When we become overly strict with ourselves about maintaining the routine, we can end up feeling guilt and shame when we are unable to follow through.

Each time we miss a workout, morning meditation or some other event we had scheduled into our routine, we feel upset with ourselves. This is the opposite of what a good self-care routine is supposed to accomplish. That is not to say that routines are bad, or that self-discipline isnt a quality worth striving for. But when an inability to follow through on that routine leads to feelings of shame, we probably need to take a closer look at what is happening. If the idea of self-care is making you more upset, you might be doing it wrong.

Instead of a routine or set of particular repeated behaviors, some people might find it helpful to look at the idea of self-care as more of a shift in mindset.

A mindset where ones needs are regularly assessed and addressed, where one gives themselves permission to do the things they enjoy.

Maybe that means getting up extra early on a Saturday to go hiking in the mountains before the crowds arrive, maybe it means stopping at the bakery for a doughnut on your way home from work, or grabbing that cocktail with a friend you havent seen in months. If it feels good, doesnt cause you harm, and helps you find your center, it is self-care and whatever it is, is necessary for you in that moment.

Often times, perfectionists have the hardest time with self-care. Perfectionists tend to resist the idea of self-care because they feel their time could be spent more productively.

Often they will spend weeks or months without giving themselves a break or treating themselves to anything they truly enjoy. Instead, they see things as black and white. When they are working they work, and when the work is done they can enjoy themselves. This self-denial along the way often leads to problems. When things have built up for so long, perfectionists need a release, the inability to stop along the way can lead to things boiling over into impulsive, unhealthy behaviors. This is why I encourage an approach to self-care that is not perfectionistic, but instead makes space for whatever needs pop up along the way.

About Rich Brodt

I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth