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  • kimzepler

And as the summer sun fades

For many of us, warm long days can allow us to meet up with friends, family, take a welcome break from work and enjoy life.

For counsellors this can often be a quiet time and that's ok - we like long warm days in the sun (or shade) too.

We all need time to recharge our batteries and in the UK summer is often that time. Taking time out to go to the beach, sit in a park, catch up with friends and spending time with loved ones or even watching your favourite show are all important acts of self-care and gratitude. It can easy to think that self-care is something that needs to be planned after all we often read about all the 'things we can do' to look after well-being. Sometimes it's the 'being' that really counts. It can be sitting quietly in the garden with a cup of tea doing nothing, just being there. It is easy to overlook the small pleasures in life and with the hectic pace that many of us chase (sometimes willingly, sometimes blindly) taking a few moments ‘out’ can make mean we are less likely to snap at those who matter to us.

This can be a time we can sit and quietly reflect upon the things that we value. Self-care can be an opportunity to think; I am really lucky to have my (fill in your own personal favourite bit!). Favourites can often include friends or family members and these can be part of our unique self-care team or cheerleader(s), for example, when I feel angry, I find it really helpful to talk it through it Fred/Freda. Or, I really can’t be bothered or I am feeling down, if I talk with Jo/Joe they won’t try to cheer me up, they will just be there for me. Pets can be great soul soothers, after a stressful day a walk with the dog can help alleviate the tenseness we carry or sitting with the cat can quieten our mind. Talking to the fish, rabbit or lizard can all help.

Exercise helps us with managing stress, for some it can be running, or something more cathartic such as boxing. It can be useful to remember that exercise doesn’t need to be vigorous! Tending the flower beds or veggie patch can give us a sense of purpose which after a day of frustrations can give up back some meaning, for those you work best in ‘doing’ mode we can reconnect with our sense of purpose.

Micro-breaks during the day can help us recentre or ground us, that brief chat with a colleague at work in the kitchen or taking a short walk during your break. 10 minutes can be invaluable and for those you struggle with this it may be useful to remember that small breaks can increase our productivity by reducing stress plus our brains need rest.

It is also helpful to recognise that some forms of self-care may not be as beneficial as the ones written about above and these can involve too much of anything. The people who value us most will often spot these before we do. If we are over drinking or exercising, for example our loved ones often try and say something.

There can however be times or situations where we feel that professional help is needed. This is okay and this is what counsellors are for. There could be times when the weight we carry on our shoulders feels to too heavy and we don’t feel able to share the burden with others. This act of self-care is as valid as any other.

My final thoughts… Time for a wander around the block to see what the neighbours are up to….

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