Written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks
In your life, you are more than just a hypnotherapist. As well as your hypnotherapist persona, you may be a relationship partner, a parent, a son or daughter, a friend, a neighbour, a colleague, a team mate, and many other roles that you may not have even considered. With each of these roles, come both benefits and responsibilities. By the time you address all of these responsibilities, there may be little energy left for your own needs. Whilst that soak in the bath with candles and a glass of wine, or that snuggle on the sofa with a mug of tea and a good movie might seem an extravagant use of time that you could instead optimise to work on your business, spending time focusing on your own self-care is a critical aspect of being an effective hypnotherapist in the long term.
Imagine a garden pond. Whenever it rains or snows, the pond fills up and the streams leading from it distribute that nourishing water throughout your garden, keeping your pond at the right level. However, if you don’t take care of the pond, those streams can get blocked. Then, when it rains, the pond overflows, no longer able to work effectively, flooding some areas of the garden, and leaving other parts of the garden missing out.
Unlike the physical effort of having to dig out weeds in order to maintain a pond, self-care for hypnotherapists is much more easily achievable. Whilst, as humans, we are less able to deal with stresses that come out our way if we are already physically and emotionally depleted, as therapists, we have the knowledge and tools available to us to develop helpful coping strategies and to boost our resilience. Rather than list all the multitude of hypnotherapy approaches you could use within your own self-hypnosis sessions, or perhaps in a therapy swap with a colleague, this blog is a gentle reminder of some of the key fundamentals of personal self-care.
There are clear benefits, both personally and professionally from investing in our own self-care. Therapists who neglect their own personal needs, who don’t take time to nurture themselves, can be less able to convey the benefits of doing so to clients. They can have less empathy and find it more difficult to build and maintain rapport, which is not ideal when rapport can significantly aid the therapeutic process. This can then reduce their professional success and lead to low self-esteem. Furthermore, therapists can become unhappy with their therapeutic practice, and can even develop feelings of resentment towards their clients.
From a physical health perspective, addressing fight/flight responses and promoting the relaxation response can prevent the adverse physical effects of chronic stress, whilst eating healthy food and having sufficient hydration helps keep the body functioning well, and better able to cope with times of high demand. From an emotional health perspective, taking time to care for yourself creates a mental balance and can help to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue.
Personal time is a fundamental aspect of good self-care. Whilst personal time needs can vary according to your level of introversion or extraversion, some personal time is essential. Giving yourself time to have a balance in your life is more than a work-life balance. It may be that the most pressure is currently coming from your personal life. However, if you don’t address that, then it can adversely affect how you work with your clients, such as with a low frustration tolerance. It is important to get enough rest and have quality time out away from work or whatever is causing you pressure (not just when you are exhausted at the end of the day). When you do have time out, focus and be present in those moments. For example, if you take a bubble bath, leave your phone in your bedroom. Focus on the sensations of the water, the sound of gentle music (if there is any), perhaps the scent of a candle, even watching the flicker of a candle flame as you bathe and relax. By moving your focus away from whatever is pressuring you, you are able to allow your mind to work out your problems, benefit from self-reflection and gain insight without deliberate thought.
Also, on the topic of time, it is beneficial to regularly allow sufficient time to plan your day, week and month. This can help you be objective about priorities and can help you avoid focusing on doing the easy or pleasant tasks, rather than the important and beneficial ones. Indeed, the busier your life, the more important good time management skills are.
As well as helping the mind to rebalance, the body benefits from care as well. When someone is stressed, they start to tense up physically, and this tension can, over time, cause physical symptoms, even injuries. A few minutes of ‘progressive relaxation’ can help the entire body release tension that you may not even have been aware of. This can help with blood flow and boost body functioning. Let’s also not forget the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. So, a healthy diet, sufficient hydration and activity/exercise keeps the body functioning and more able to resist physical and psychological stress. In addition, having good sleep hygiene is a fundamental component of personal care. Not only enough sleep but good quality sleep and a healthy sleep routine.
At first glance, this might all seem like common sense. It might be something you likely already know. Yet, just for a moment, think about how balanced your life truly is. How good are your strategies for avoiding having your buttons pushed, or dealing with what happens if a stress response is triggered? When was the last time you truly focused on what you are doing, whether that is at work, mowing the lawn, or even whilst arguing with a friend or relative? Take time soon to simply focus on all the different aspects in your life, and become aware of what you are holding on to that no longer serves you any benefit, as well as what you can add in to your life that will help you live the most rewarding life for the whole you. After all, you deserve it.
If you’re not sure where to start, and you’d like help creating mental balance in your own life, contact us directly to book a hypnotherapist supervision session, where we can help you move forwards.
We hope that this blog about creating mental balance as a hypnotherapist has been helpful. If you have any questions about this topic or anything else for that matter, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Dr Kate Beaven-Marks