Back in May 2017, I fell into a rut with my depression and anxiety. My therapist and I discussed different ways for me to express myself healthily. I mentioned to her that I wrote poetry off and on as a teenager and into early adulthood. Poetry was merely a way for me to express myself. I never published any of my work or put it out there really for others to read. I lost my passion for it during college though. Who would want to write a poem after you just finished a ten-page paper? My therapist brought up the idea of starting back up with poetry or another means of writing since I generally struggled with being in touch my emotional side. A few ideas were thrown around, and the topic of blogging popped up.
I often scoffed at the idea of blogging. I always envisioned the hipster type sitting at a Starbucks with their chai tea latte writing about the most recent fashion trends. My perception changed when I started interning at an adult day program for those with mental illness. As the low man on the totem pole, I primarily facilitated educational and therapy groups for the clients (especially groups the staff members did not want to run). At first, I thought I had plenty of evidence-based material and techniques to cover. I ran somewhere around five to ten groups a week and admitted quickly that I was very wrong. I realized I need to think outside of the box in order to keep things fresh. That was when I started looking to sites like Psychology Today that often hired professionals to blog. I found amazing information that my clients found helpful, and not only were the writers professionals, but also individuals who shared their own stories in dealing with mental illness. Blogs offered up valuable information, and I continued to use them in group and individual sessions over the years.
I approached blogging with more of an open mind as a result. I took my time and thought about the main focus, the structure, and even technical details such as a hosting site. After toying around with the idea for about six weeks, I started up “The Caring Counselor” that June with the following post:
While researching how to start a blog, I read over and over again to find a niche that is near and dear to your heart and that can apply to others. I contemplated for well over a week on what I would want to discuss with the Internet. I knew that I wanted to focus on something mental health related given my background as a mental health counselor and my own personal battle with anxiety and depression. I narrowed it down to something that is not commonly discussed and that is often forgotten about — ourselves.
I remember sitting in my practicum class in grad school when my professor was asking for topics to be covered over the course of the semester. He suggested picking topics that may not have been discussed in other classes or in the textbooks. Almost instantaneously, I muttered, “Self-care.” It was not something that had been covered in-depth in any of my classes given that I was about to enter a field with extremely high rates of job-related burnout.
My message is simple. I would like to open up the discussion on self-care to help others engage in self-care strategies in order to prevent such high levels of stress and burnout in everyday life. It should not take until graduate school for someone to understand and apply these concepts in our increasingly stressful society. Therefore, I am asking you to join me on this journey of self-care. I will be exploring concepts, philosophies, strategies, and ideas behind self-care. I will share some that I have worked for me personally, and others that might work best for you. Remember: we will be putting the “self” into “self-care.” I look forward to it.
-The Caring Counselor
From there, I wrote about self-care techniques, self-care theories, and my own personal journey with self-care. Over the next few months, I felt the benefits of blogging and discussed at great length with my therapist.
Expression of Self. I have a pattern of stuffing my feelings and not acknowledging them until they become a problem. Blogging provided me with an outlet to let them out in a healthy manner. It forces me to reflect on these feelings and the reasons they are there. Writing about them also helps me to organize them and process through them on my own. As a result, I develop stronger insight into myself.
Sharing with Others. A blog made for a wonderful platform for sharing. For one, I am able to put educational information out there about different techniques and skills that may indirectly help someone who reads it. Second, I share my own personal experiences that way an individual does not feel so alone or to learn about what might have worked for me.
Blogs also tap into the ever-changing technology behind today’s society. People can readily access it online through their computers, phones, and social media.
Fueling a Passion. The topic of self-care is one that is near and dear to my heart, especially since it largely pertains to my true passion of helping others with their mental health. Self-care plays a huge part in mental health and one’s overall well-being. Writing about it makes me feel fulfilled with purpose. My blog helps me to become a better professional and overall person.
-The Caring Counselor