My Favorite Self-Care Strategies

Posted on June 27, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek

Counseling is hard work, and often, I feel pulled into the troubles of my precious clients. But I know it’s a signal for me to slow down because after all, it is practically midsummer, a time to celebrate!

Looking back at the last six months, I’m amazed at how much I have grown, even in spite of the fatigue. I have noticed that self-care practices have been vital for me to lean on. I thought I’d share some of my favorite self-care practices, or what Barbara Brown Taylor affectionately calls the things that are “saving my life right now.”


1. I now practice EMDR on my phone via the Anxiety Release app. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is an evidence-based therapy for anyone who has survived trauma, whether that’s big “T” trauma like sexual assault or little “t” traumas that assail all of us, at some point or another.  The app provides several short sessions of tonal bilateral stimulation, which helps us get unstuck from obsessive thinking and allows our bodies to relax. I can’t recommend it enough. (Make sure to use it when you are feeling anxious in the moment, as it is not something to be done as a daily relaxation protocol.)

2. I recite the first line of the Serenity Prayer during difficult times to find stability:  God, grant me the serenity. Truly it is a remarkably healing prayer and refocuses my attention on what is good, true, and beautiful rather than my fearful thoughts.

3. Coloring with markers is a wonderful way to release stress and making affirmations using markers is even better.

4. Reminding myself that my role as counselor to educate others, not fix them. I detach from the suffering of others with compassion and remember that everyone, even those living in chaos, are dearly loved by the Divine. In fact, I believe God is with them in solidarity, in the muck doing what He or She can to honor their choices and to help.

5. I practice gratitude daily through the use of a beautiful journal. I write three things I’m most grateful for each morning before I get out of bed in the morning. There is so much evidence that a daily gratitude practice is life-changing because it reminds us we live in a universe that longs for us to fully inhabit our lives and show thanks for all that we have been given. For any of you (like me) who are bookworms, check out Diana Butler Bass’s latest book on Gratitude.

6. I let go of perfectionism, people-pleasing, and performative tendencies as measuring sticks for my worth.

7. In my meditation, I ask God to help me sit with the difficult feelings of overwhelm, compassion fatigue, and sorrow.  My feelings are a clue for me that I need to rest, and that waiting for answers is a kind of practice too. I often wonder that God would talk more to us if we just stopped moving for awhile and stayed still long enough to listen.

(Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)
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  • Reply Valarie

    Wonderful insight, as usual.
    I love the last sentence! Makes me think of, “Don’t just do something; sit there!”
    Love love love

    June 28, 2018 at 12:45 pm
    • Reply Rose

      You’re the best! Yes, I’m planning on keeping my butt in the chair the rest of the week and next to rest! xx

      June 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm
  • Reply Lori Williams

    I really appreciate your honesty in this post. Working in a therapeutic environment as an administrative assistant , I can totally understand why you would feel burnt out. So much responsibility! It’s actually really good for me to see this from your perspective. I always wanted to be a therapist myself, but that never happened. Reading your post helped me to see that even if I’d become a therapist it wouldn’t fix my struggles with low self worth. That only comes from finding dignity in who we are. Thank you for reminding me of that. Also, I appreciate very much a peer approach to helping others. There is definitely a need for therapists who have more insight and education than their clients, but never someone who feels more powerful. For someone like me who has experienced the fallout from power being abused, I am very intimated by others who want to fix others. Planting seeds and trusting God to do the work is a very humble approach that trusts is our only real source of power. I pray that your new job gives you a new sense of purpose and dignity. God bless, Lori

    June 29, 2018 at 4:25 am
    • Reply Rose

      Thanks, Lori! Initially, I did think that counseling would give me a self-esteem boost but I discovered we can’t give if our own well is empty! Thankful for your sweet note and prayers! xx

      June 29, 2018 at 2:29 pm

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