Self-Care Tips for Emotional Wellness

Posted Apr 13, 2021

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Summary

Two mental health professionals share self-care strategies they use for their own emotional wellness.


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Welcome to another episode of our wellness podcast. I’m Mark DeFee and with me is KC Schroder. We're both licensed therapists who focus on workplace mental health.

We're also pretty good friends, so we're gonna have a little bit of fun. Maybe tell some stories but most importantly, we're gonna give you some great information to help you develop both personally and professionally. Does that sound good? All right! Let's dive in!

During this episode Mark and I really wanted to do something a little bit different. We really wanted to kind of give you guys an insider's perspective from two clinicians about how we take care of ourselves emotionally. What we do when we get stressed and what we do to make sure that we are paying attention to our emotional wellness on a daily basis.

So, Mark, I think I’m just going to start by asking you a simple question.  What are your go-to techniques when you're dealing with stress or when you really wanna make sure that you are doing all you can for your emotional wellness?

Good question and it's not something that I’m gonna sit up here and pretend like I'm always perfect at [laughs] even though KC and I are therapist, I know…

On what?

Even though we're therapists we're also human, we do experience moments of high stress or anxiety and sometimes I handle them very well. Sometimes I look back going, “man, did you go to graduate school at all for counseling? Because that was a train wreck what you just decided to do” and I think, but to answer your question, the biggest thing I do on a daily basis is thought work. It’s really always asking myself, you know, what's making me have that thought. What's it causing me to do, what do I need to do in this moment to show up or to, you know, represent my values the way I want to. So, when I look back, I'm happy with how I responded or what I did to correct, course-correct or whatever. So, for me, it really starts with being able to challenge my thoughts and keep them going in a positive direction. But I know that's only one technique so, KC, what do you do?

Well, I think what I focus on is really um, communication and my village, like, what I say is my village. My support group. I truly am a believer in, in order to be emotionally well you can't be on your own island. That people really matter and that your support group really matters. So, I do, again, not all the time, you know, there's there's definitely times I too ask myself “wait, have I really been a practicing clinician for, you know, almost two decades now? What did I just do?” But what I really… what I intend to do is to make sure that I am checking in with my support group on a regular basis, that I have people that truly support me right in my village and that, you know, I’m not getting stressed out and kind of withdrawing because I think we all have a tendency to do that, right? If we get stressed out, we say “okay, you know, I don't need to go meet that friend for lunch or zoom with that friend or whatever”. So that's really one of my biggest ways that I stay emotionally.

And that's a great point. I will admit that when I become stressed or struggling with something, you know, feeling symptoms of depression or down, that's one of the first things that falls off my plate. And it's a lot of what you just talked about my thought process being “oh you know, they'll understand.” It's almost like taking advantage of their friendship because they need something too. Llike you mentioned, skipping that zoom invite or that zoom call. They probably were looking for something from it too and now we're not living up to our standards as a friend. And those are the type of things that I think help get me on track is: this is good for me; it's gonna be good for them; I need to commit to this; and carve it out in my schedule. But I’ll admit it is one of the first things that falls off my plate.

Yeah, it is. It is. And what's super interesting when I think about your initial response what you do… My support group, when I check in with them regularly, they're the folks that call me out the most when I have bad thought processes. If I’m being negative, if I’m viewing things in a, in a non, like, you know, characteristic way for me. My support group is the first one's like: “what's going on with you?” And they really call it to my attention and make me start to question my own thought process making sure that I am kind of filtering out the negative and focusing on the positive and things of that nature. So, I do think our two techniques, believe it or not, are actually connected in a huge way.

And that kind of falls into my clinical orientation as a cognitive behavioral therapist. I mean, the goal is to teach people these skills so they don't need to rely on therapy. And so, I like hearing that your friends know what's healthy and they feel comfortable enough calling you out on it. ‘Cause I imagine they're sitting there going: “KC’s a therapist”. Am I really in a place where I can sing? [laughs] You know. She needs to take better care of herself but it sounds like you've created a relationship where they feel comfortable doing that.

Well, yes. And some of them, you know, knew me before I was a therapist which helps, too.

Yeah, that helps. So, another, you know, there are so many things here to consider. I exercise a couple of times a week on my bike, on good weeks. I will look up, you know, and realize “oh I haven't been on my bike in three weeks”. And that's when the stress is really high and I’d take stock of that, and again, adjust and get back on the bike but it's very easy to not notice or to be oblivious that I’m not doing the things necessary to take care of myself. And then the last thing, I’ll just say is, you know, we've talked about it previously, that happiness hygiene plan coming up with one beforehand, before you're really feeling stressed or anxious is important. And in my opinion, it needs to have two components: the proactive stuff, the working out, the reaching out to friends but also in the moment techniques. If something just causes your anxiety level to skyrocket. What do you do? How do you get yourself back on track? So, those are my final thoughts but, KC, what would you add?

Well, and just for those folks who might not remember the happiness hygiene plan is things that we do every day to make ourselves feel better. And I think that's my final thought. We don't get physically, you know, well overnight without actually putting work into it, right? Like we have to eat, right? We have to exercise; we have to take care of ourselves every single day to be physically well. It's the same thing with mental health. You have to take care of your emotional wellness every single day. So, make sure that you're doing at least one nice thing for yourself a day as far as emotional wellness is concerned.

Or like we talked about previously: one nice thing for someone else because that helps as well.

So, this website you're on, there are so many resources here. Please check them out. Until we talk again, take care and be well.

 

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