7 Self-Care Tips for Psychologists and Other Clinicians
As a clinician, you’ve dedicated your professional life to helping others. Working with patients to help them cope with issues brings you great joy, but the job can be taxing. You can’t give your very best to your patients if you’re not in a great mental state yourself.
The importance of self-care for clinicians cannot be emphasized enough. If you’re reading this and feeling like spending time on yourself is a luxury you just don’t have, it’s time to realign your priorities.
Here are seven ways to take better care of yourself.
1. Set Boundaries
You’re a giving person, but you’re only human. While you want to do everything asked of you, there are limits to the amount of work you can accomplish in a day. If your boss or a colleague tries to add a new responsibility to your already overflowing plate, don’t be afraid to speak up. A reasonable person will understand you’re only being honest about your limitations — not being a poor team player.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
It might sound a little tacky, but you really are what you eat. If you’re not taking the time to fuel your body with healthy foods, you’re likely feeling the impact of this decision. Make a point to eat a healthy breakfast and carve enough time out to sit down and enjoy a balanced lunch — even if you have to bring it from home, because the cafeteria isn’t known for its healthy fare.
3. Combat Stress Throughout the Day
Your workday can be a lot, and right now, you’re carrying the pressure with you until quitting time. This casts a heavy weight over your day, which is causing you to feel extra anxious and is likely making you less productive at your job. Avoid this by finding healthy ways to relieve stress during the day — i.e., going for a quick walk, talking to a colleague, or finding a quiet place to relax your mind for a few minutes.
4. Make Your Work Environment More Zen
You spend all day in your office, so you need décor that makes you feel relaxed. Give your space a makeover that creates a Zen ambiance. This might involve adding a few houseplants, swapping fluorescent lighting for a couple of lamps, or buying a decorative throw rug. It’s much easier to relax when you’re spending time in a room that makes you feel good.
5. Identify Your Stress Triggers
Stress doesn’t initiate without reason. Everyone has specific triggers that cause them to feel anxious, so figure out what yours are. This could be anything from having patients scheduled too early in the morning — before you’ve had time to settle in — or having too many back-to-back appointments. When you know what’s causing the problem, you can work toward finding a solution.
6. Find Healthy Hobbies
During the workday, you’re laser-focused on your patients. However, it’s essential to leave the stress of work behind at the office and enjoy a full personal life at home. Healthy hobbies are positive activities that boost your spirits — i.e., taking a bubble bath, reading a book before bedtime, playing on an intramural sports league — and allow you to decompress. It’s okay if you don’t have much time to dedicate to a hobby, but carve out at least a little time each day for you.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to Your Boss
Many clinicians feel overwhelmed, but avoid voicing their concerns to their boss, because they don’t want to appear lazy. Feeling this way is understandable, but your manager knows you’re a hard worker who gives their all to the job. If you have a problem you’re unable to solve yourself — i.e., your workload is too heavy or you need to adjust your work hours — talk to your boss. They’ll be happy you came to them, instead of continuing to feel unhappy or even quitting your job.