How Our Jewish Tradition Advocates We Participate in Self-Care

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Stacey Shapiro

In the chaos of our daily lives, meetings, activities, and home responsibilities it can sometimes be hard for us to take a step back and actualize some self-care for ourselves.

What goes without saying is that self-care is something that every person can benefit from including mental health therapists. We can get so caught up with projects, responsibilities, and stressors throughout our week, that it can affect many aspects of our life. To take a step back and analyze our thoughts, responses, and gauge our emotions is something we should make time for. Everyone is deserving of some “me” time to rest and recharge for the next day or the next week. When we look at iconic Jews in the world, we can see how some were and are acting in the Jewish way of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Therapists are repairing the people who make up our current world. Through our own energy, we are helping to heal the world through our patients, their families, and everyone they connect with outside of our office. We need breaks too. Self-care is not something that is black and white, it is something that can be molded to fit and accommodate each person. One person’s version of self-care is going to be different than mine, and that is okay. We each need to find something that is best for us to experience or do.

When we take time in our day to relax, we can begin to put ourselves first and make better decisions for ourselves. One good example of this is Shabbat blessings for Friday night. When we do this, we need to be calm, aware, and present for things like the blessing for lighting the candles, blessing for the children, blessings over the wine, etc. While we do these things, we are able to practice mindfulness and dedicate this specific time to ourselves and our family. Once I implemented Shabbat dinner in my home, I realized the importance. It’s so nice to be unplugged and protected from the outside world even if it is only for a few hours. It can come to serve as a mini-vacation from our daily life. This unplugging allows space for becoming present and connected to our family and G-d. This time can serve as a catalyst for us to land on a different wavelength than we are during our regular workweek. One can begin to reset our body and mind for what is to come in the following week. Allow for presence in our work. As therapists, if we do not fill our cups back up, we will feel depleted and eventually find ourselves with unhealthy patterns which can create health issues on many levels.

Feeling this sense of deep-rooted tradition in our religion is something that binds us to our customs, and can help grow our sense of peace and reduce the uneasiness we might carry with us. Tradition can serve as a mindfulness practice as well. We are pushed to do good in the world, and doing good also includes taking good care of ourselves. Role modeling good self-care, mindfulness, and being present is one of the best things we can do for our patients/clients.

About the Author: Stacey Shapiro is a clinician and self-care coach whose deepest passion is to support individuals and communities in engaging in and deepening their self-care practices for transformative change. She enjoys supporting highly sensitives, creatives, and empaths from all walks of life. A 20-year veteran psychotherapist and social worker, Stacey currently offers self-care-oriented coaching across the globe through her website, awarenesscoachingllc.com.