Radical Self-Care Therapy | Counseling | Therapy

Radical Self-Care Therapy

Raegan — Intern therapist

Radical Self-Care Therapy

It can be difficult to find a self-care practice that works and has long-lasting results. Looking online for answers, it’s almost impossible to ignore the ads of the latest “mango sugar body scrub” and the “reversible 5 mm yoga mat” that is offered as the key to finding inner peace. We are often encouraged to pursue this commercialized version of self-care that prompts us to spend money on products as a way to fulfill our needs. But these solutions are often temporary, and we’re left to continue to fight burnout, exhaustion, and hopelessness because we don’t know what to do next.

Everyone needs self-care. Often, an apt metaphor for the importance of self-care is an oxygen mask being lowered in an airplane. The instructions we follow are to put our oxygen mask on before assisting others. The clear reason for this is that it’s not possible for us to effectively help others when we aren’t helping ourselves. It’s not selfish or self-indulgent to practice self-care, but a life-preserving and life-improving practice that can help us thrive. We breathe in the metaphorical oxygen and feel ready to take on other challenges.

Knowing that we need to practice self-care isn’t very helpful until we discover for ourselves what works and what doesn’t. In practicing self-care, we can become detectives and expert assessors of what brings us relief or contentment. We can be honest about the outcomes of different activities that we try and if they leave us better off than if we didn’t use them at all. Self-care can help rebuild and fortify ourselves so that we can feel ready to take on the world and become the best version of ourselves.

The practice of radical self-care means going a step further beyond temporary quick fixes. This practice was developed and popularized by Civil Rights activists who understood that self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s a means of survival. It was a way for people to care for themselves, fight burnout, and continue bringing their whole selves to their movement. They defined radical self-care as identifying the deep and meaningful things in our lives that will bring us nourishing care. Understanding the deep roots of this practice can help us differentiate between commercialized self-care and radical self-care.

The effects of practicing radical self-care are long-lasting. They leave us feeling nourished, energized, and hopeful. They help us show up better in our lives and relationships. They help us pursue our passions. They help us become our best selves. Some signs of commercialized self-care are feeling numbed out, triggered to compare self to others, dissociation, and anxious feelings. Commercialized self-care often encourages us to spend money on products or experiences and promise a quick change or a “brand new you.” While commercialized self-care might feel good for a bit, like the rush of dopamine we get while scrolling through Tik Tok, its effects are not long-lasting and often leave us feeling wanting more.

Self-Care Inventory

The first step in engaging in radical self-care is taking note of the self-care practices you already incorporate into your life. What is working for you? What needs to be changed? Maybe your self-care routine has grown a little stale, and what once helped you isn’t quite cutting it. Searching for new avenues of self-care can bring a refresh that we didn’t know we needed. Take some time to identify what kind of things you like to do and what brings you rest and peace. Understanding how these new activities affect you is just as important as the activity itself.

Going through the following list, put a checkmark next to or write in what you’ve already tried in your self-care routine in relation to these different categories.

Physical Self-Care:

  • Getting enough sleep/rest

  • Exercising

  • Walking

  • Stretching / Yoga

  • Playing sports with friends

  • Cooking your favorite meal

  • Eating nourishing foods

  • Sitting in the sunlight

  • Screen Breaks

  • Scheduling doctor appointments

  • Other:________________

Emotional Self-Care:

  • Going to therapy

  • Deep breathing

  • Meditation

  • Journaling

  • Learning new coping skills

  • Other: _______________

Personal Self-Care:

  • Engaging in hobbies or creative activities

  • Practicing self-compassion

  • Identifying your goals and values

  • Listening to a podcast or book

  • Other: _______________

Social Self-Care:

  • Creating boundaries

  • Reaching out to your support system

  • Limiting the use of social media

  • Spending time with friends and family

  • Volunteering

  • Activism

  • Other: _______________

Spiritual Self-Care:

  • Spending time alone

  • Visiting places of worship

  • Listening to / reading spiritual texts

  • Congregating with others

  • Meditation

  • Prayer

  • Spending time in nature

  • Practicing mindfulness

  • Practicing Deep breathing

  • Other: _______________

Self-Care in your Space:

  • Cleaning your room/home

  • Creating a safe space to live in

  • Other: _______________

Self-Care in Work:

  • Creating boundaries with work

  • Protecting your work/life balance

  • Taking time for breaks

  • Reaching out for support when you need it

  • Other: _______________


Try asking yourself some of these questions as a way of processing what you’ve noticed from this activity.

  • How does my self-care routine make me feel? (Burned out? Excited? Anxious? Numb? Guilty?Content? Peaceful? Fulfilled? Challenged?)

  • Do I have any hesitations about doing my self-care activities?

  • What are the results of these activities in my life?

  • How has my self-care changed over time?

  • Who are the people that have made self-care possible for me?

  • Who influences my self-care routine?

Ways To Deepen Your Self-Care Practice

Physical Self-Care

Understanding that your physical body and mental health are connected is an important step in radical self-care. Focusing on self-care for the body can get us out of a rut if nothing else seems to be working. Taking care of your body can look different for everyone, and there are many ways that you can explore what this looks like for you. Perhaps it's finding an activity that you already love and incorporating it into your schedule more intentionally. Maybe it’s attending to the sometimes monotonous tasks of being a human, like making that dentist appointment, putting down your phone, or cooking yourself a nice meal.

Emotional Self-Care

A way to deepen your emotional self-care routine is to take time to feel your feelings. Often we turn to numb our feelings as a way to make it through the day or to not be overwhelmed by the negative emotions that we might feel. As a result of this, our feelings can build up and explode when we don’t mean for them to. Our anger, sadness, or anxiety can begin to feel untouchable. Feeling your feelings means that you sit with the sensations of your feelings, asking where it is in your body and what it is asking of you. If you’re feeling sadness, that feeling might be asking you to cry. If you’re feeling anger, that feeling might be asking you to scream into a pillow. If you’re feeling joy, that feeling might be asking you to dance or sing. Addressing your emotions and feeling your feelings is a great way to care for yourself as you let the emotions move through you and allow you to move through the feeling and move on.

Personal Self-Care

One way to improve your self-care routine is to embrace your creative self. People are inherently creative beings; this means that you can express yourself in creative ways, even if you aren’t an artist or musician. Take time to identify the ways you like to be creative and how that impacts your mental health.

Social Self-Care

Spend some time thinking about your current relationships or support systems in your life. Which are the people that you enjoy spending the most time with? Who lifts you up? Who makes you feel heard and understood? Which relationships cause you stress? Which requires more of you than you have to give? Remember: taking stock of the relationships in your life doesn’t need to lead to cutting off relationships, but they can help you assess your boundaries and make necessary changes to balance things out.

Care for your community can also impact your mental health. When we are taught about self-care, it’s often understood that this type of care should only be focused inward. However, a big part of radical self-care is the understanding that your mental health and the health of your community are connected. Giving to others and volunteering your time can help boost our satisfaction and help us find a purpose in life.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care can involve anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning and understanding. It can help you identify your values and beliefs and help you understand how they intersect with your world. One way to deepen your spiritual self-care practice would be to connect with those within your same spiritual practice. This can mean going on retreats, attending religious gatherings, or observing rituals. It can be significant to share experiences with those who share similar values and beliefs.

Self-Care in Your Space

Sometimes taking care of your space can feel like a last priority when there are so many other things going on. Even with limited time in your schedule, a way to help your self-care practice in your space is to take 5 minutes (set a timer if needed) and clean or organize. Five minutes might seem like an inconsequential amount of time, but it can make an impact over time to give you a place that provides a calm and relaxing environment.

Self-Care in Work

Practicing self-care at work is an important way to combat feelings of burnout and stress. It’s essential to cultivate a healthy work-life balance to be able to show up well for things in your personal and work life. Some examples of ways to deepen your self-care at work are

learning to say no, taking breaks, having open and honest conversations about your needs with your employer, prioritizing your health, communicating boundaries so that you can truly unplug, investing in relationships, taking your vacation days, and scheduling family time.

Some important things to remember...

You might not discover your perfect self-care routine right away. It’s important to acknowledge that there are pressures on us day to day that pull us away from giving ourselves the care we need. Systemic pressure might derail us on our self-care journey - things like access to resources might discourage us from pursuing certain kinds of self-care.

Some forms of self-care might only last for a season. For example, a self-care exercise that’s meant to distract from a painful event happening in your life might only work for a while until the need to process that painful event becomes too great and that coping mechanism fails. This is ok, and this is normal. Human beings are subject to change internally and externally. Sometimes it's hard to adapt to this change when it comes at a time when we aren’t ready. But radical self-care is accepting that sometimes we need to leave things behind to find practices that suit us for this time and place.

At TCFG you can schedule directly online with a shame therapist. If you prefer talking to a shame therapist first, you may call (215) 922-LOVE (5683) ext 100 to be connected with our intake department. Lastly, you can call our Director, “Alex” Caroline Robboy, CAS, MSW, LCSW at (267) 324–9564 to discuss your particular situation. For your convenience, we have six physical therapy offices and can also provide counseling and therapy virtually.

OUR GUARANTEE: you deserve the best couples counselor or marriage therapist possible. If you don't feel like the couples therapist that you met with was the right fit, then free of charge you can try out a different therapist. Being in a group practices allows for flexibility.

At TCFG you can schedule directly online with a shame therapist. If you prefer talking to a shame therapist first, you may call (215) 922-LOVE (5683) ext 100 to be connected with our intake department. Lastly, you can call our Director, “Alex” Caroline Robboy, CAS, MSW, LCSW at (267) 324–9564 to discuss your particular situation. For your convenience, we have six physical therapy offices and can also provide counseling and therapy virtually.

    OUR GUARANTEE: you deserve the best couples counselor or marriage therapist possible. If you don't feel like the couples therapist that you met with was the right fit, then free of charge you can try out a different therapist. Being in a group practices allows for flexibility.

    The Center for Growth has offices in multiple states. We offer both Couples Counseling and Marriage Therapy inperson as well as virtual appointments.

    The Center for Growth Therapy Offices in PA, NJ, VA, RI, NM, CT

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