You might have heard that we had a little bit of snow this weekend here on the East Coast. A blizzard, some might say. As a California girl, I still love getting snow even though I’ve lived on this coast for almost 15 years. We never got snow days growing up in California so the luxury of being forced to stay inside and watch the world around you transform into a winter wonderland still holds a bit of magic for me. And when you are lucky and privileged enough to have a warm place to stay, enough food to last you the weekend, and electricity (most importantly internet!), a snow day turns into a welcomed self-care day; yes, thank you, I will stay inside and take a break from my hectic life.
As therapists, we are taught that self-care is imperative. Because our profession involves giving our full attention and energy to our clients, we need to be physically rested and mentally awake to do our clients justice. Basically, we need to take care of ourselves before we can do justice to our clients. We need to be aware of our limitations and not taking care of ourselves can create potential problems in our clinical work. The American Music Therapy Association states in the Code of Ethics,
“The MT [Music Therapist] is aware of personal limitations, problems, and values that might interfere with his/her professional work and, at an early stage, will take whatever action is necessary (i.e., seeking professional help, limiting or discontinuing work with clients, etc.) to ensure that services to clients are not affected by these limitations and problems.”
Generally, my self-care means taking a break. I am the kind of person who likes to have multiple projects or jobs going on at once, and I excel at juggling all of these responsibilities. But I am learning that I need to slow down every so often, shut out the world, and just rest. This could mean binge watching tv shows, sleeping over 10 hours, reading a book, mindlessly surfing the internet. Other times, self-care is more active, or at least more social, and involves getting together with friends for a meal, going for a run, or being part of a theater production. Either way self-care is about feeding the soul and restoring a sense of balance.
In grad school, we were constantly told to make time for self-care. But with papers to write, part-time jobs to work, internships to attend, and exams to study for, there just wasn’t time. Now, as I’m down to one full time music therapy job and a part-time church job, I actually have time to schedule in self-care. I’ve started running more, cooking more, and reading more for fun. Even writing this blog has been a form of self-care for me. Making time for my support system of family, friends, and colleagues has become more important and more possible. Starting a new job this year has meant a lot of work at home, preparing lesson plans, learning new songs, and coming up with new interventions, but I’ve tried to carve out self-care time as well. And the Great Blizzard of 2016 was a great excuse to do nothing and take care of myself for a day.
Photo taken by Katy Hutchings, January 21, 2014, LOVE Park, Philadelphia