Caring for Yourself Outside of Therapy

In therapy we spend time talking about thoughts and feelings, understanding their origins and how to move past pain to healing and self-acceptance.

We also often spend time talking about living a life that feels worthwhile and healthful. I sometimes explore with my clients big and small changes that can be made to improve how they feel physically, so that they can feel better emotionally.

This can be particularly useful to do in therapy because we can really get into what makes it difficult to make good choices. From there we can come up with customized plans to help you move past obstacles and embrace your best self.

The below are some important parts of a healthful life, based on the work of Marsha Linehan, the originator of a type of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

DBT loves a good acronym, and the one for this life skill is PLEASE. As you’ll see, some serious liberties are taken in making that acronym work. Nonetheless, it’s a helpful checklist to go through.

Treat PhysicaL Illness

  • Take care of your body

  • Attend yearly physicals and meet with your doctor as regularly as needed

  • Be sure to take any prescribed medication as directed

Balanced Eating

  • Be mindful of your eating habits

  • Eat regularly and calmly through the day

  • Try to regularly eat enough to meet your nutritional needs and find satisfaction

  • Avoid, as best you can over eating to the point of discomfort or skipping meals/strictly dieting

  • Notice if any foods make you feel overly emotional and be mindful of your intake of them

  • Be thoughtful about your caffeine use - particularly if you struggle with anxiety

  • Talk with your doctor if you suspect you have any food allergies

Avoid (non-prescribed) Mood-Altering Substances

  • Be thoughtful about alcohol and non-prescribed drugs

  • Talk with your therapist, psychiatrist, or medical doctor if you’re worried that you maybe overly relying on alcohol or drugs to manage your mood

  • Also talk with your team if you have a hard time controlling your use of drugs or alcohol

Balance Sleep

  • Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, or the amount of sleep that helps you feel good

  • Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule, especially if you have difficulty sleeping

  • Check out these posts for tips on improving your sleep

  • Talk with your psychiatrist or medical doctor if you suspect medication is interfering with your sleep

Get a Health Amount of Exercise

  • Be sure to move your body everyday

  • At least 20 minutes of some sort of exercise (including walking) is ideal

  • Also be mindful and talk to your therapist if you’re worried that you may be over-exercising

Questions? Want to talk more about how to make changes to your life that will help you feel good? Reach out and let’s talk.