Kids Help Phone’s professional counsellors are experts in the field of youth mental health and well-being. Whether it’s on the phone or via Live Chat, our counsellors discuss self-care and wellness with young people across Canada every day. But our counsellors don’t just talk about self-care — they live and breathe it in their own lives, too.
Counsellor Michelle has been an ally to youth in Canada at Kids Help Phone for over 12 years. Throughout her time with the organization, Michelle has answered countless calls, chats and more. During her sessions, Michelle uses her skills, training and experience to support young people who reach out, especially about things like self-care and wellness. “Self-care is the actions I take to make myself — my mind, body, heart and spirit — feel well,” said Michelle. “It’s also finding ways to make my environment a safe, caring place where I can feel at peace.” Here, we sat down with Michelle to find out what counsellors do to practice self-care:
- Seek nourishment: it’s important to take care of yourself by giving your mind and body the things it needs to function properly (e.g. proper nutrition, plenty of sleep, connection with others, etc.). “Feed your body what it needs, give your mind a rest and talk it out,” noted Michelle. “It’s about filling yourself up with the good stuff.”
- Take a break: switching up your environment or space for a few minutes can help change how you feel. “Sometimes, I need to be in a different setting in order to focus on something outside of myself,” said Michelle. For example, Kids Help Phone has a “quiet room” where counsellors can go to take a break or debrief (talk it out) with a peer. Here, Michelle reveals some of her other self-care break ideas:
- eat a healthy snack
- watch a funny video (on your own or with someone else)
- fidget with an object
- go for a walk
- sit in nature
- take a nap
- play a sport
- listen to music
- do a puzzle
- read a book/magazine
- ground yourself
- talk to a friend/relative
- Try new things: “Everyone is unique, so when it comes to self-care, you have to try new and different things to find what works best for you,” explained Michelle. You can give various self-care techniques a chance. If something makes you feel good, do more of it. If something doesn’t make you feel good, stop and move on to something else.
- Practice self-acceptance: being comfortable with who you are and practicing self-acceptance (in addition to self-care) is key. “Although it’s hard sometimes, it’s about finding a place to just be with yourself, and being OK with that,” said Michelle. You can work on this by trying a mindfulness practice (such as a breathing exercise), meditation or a relaxation exercise.
- Be prepared: try to be kind to yourself before heading into what may be a stressful situation for you. “I always prepare myself before walking in — it may be something I say to myself or something positive I think about,” Michelle emphasized. “It could also be getting a good night’s sleep the night before or listening to something relaxing on the way.”
- Trust your instincts: listen to what your inner voice and your body are telling you. “I find it helpful to make connections between what I’m thinking, what I’m doing and how my body feels,” said Michelle. It’s about paying attention to these thoughts and feelings (your instincts) and taking a moment to slow down and follow them.
- Create a space: whether it’s your room, locker, desk or somewhere else, find a place you can make your own and feel comfortable in. “Design a ‘my space’ and put up pictures of things that make you feel nice,” said Michelle.
- Make time: it can help to factor self-care into your daily routine, and to make “dates” with yourself in order to practice it. “With busy schedules, it’s easy to lose yourself in what you have going on,” said Michelle. “Physically put time for yourself into your calendar to do something just for you.”
- Talk to others: “It’s very important for me to talk to someone I trust when I need to, like a Counselling Manager or my son,” stated Michelle. “Talking about things, and hearing about what’s going on in other people’s lives, helps me focus on something so I don’t feel stuck.” Sharing what’s happening in your life with someone (e.g. a friend, relative, counsellor, safe adult, etc.) can be a great way to release your feelings, find relief and take care of yourself.
Kids Help Phone’s counsellors use different approaches to find balance and practice self-care. Remember, you can apply all of these techniques to your everyday life, too. If you have any questions about Michelle’s tips, or if you need more information about self-care, you can always call a Kids Help Phone counsellor at 1-800-668-6868.