How can you take good care of your mental well-being? Self-care tips from psychotherapist Shannen De Bruycker
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How can you take good care of your mental well-being? Self-care tips from psychotherapist Shannen De Bruycker

July 13th, 2022,

5 min read

How can you take good care of your mental well-being? Self-care tips from psychotherapist Shannen De Bruyckerfeatured image

In our busy and often hectic world, consciously seeking relaxation is essential for staying healthy and in balance. The question is: how do you do that? One of our moonbird ambassadors, psychotherapist (in training) Shannen De Bruycker, loves to talk about the benefits of good self-care. How does she take good care of herself, and what tips does she have for you?

Breathing exercises bring me peace and a better connection with my body.

Shannen, what drives you in the work you do?

"My mission with my practice BLOOM is to make the step to psychological counseling as easy as possible. Because your mental well-being, whether it’s personal, relational, or professional, is just as important as physical and general health.

I engage with people every day, and together we explore the meaning of the themes and stories they bring in. I try to create a safe and supportive environment in which my clients can quietly sort things out, give themselves space, and find a way to grow further. Self-care and mindfulness - observing emotions without judgement - are very important ways to do this.

As human beings, we are constantly on the move and have infinite growth potential. To be able to guide others in this is a gift.”

What can we do to grow and develop as human beings?

“Follow your heart, connect with yourself, with your body, and your emotions. Nourish your full potential. Try to break free from the automatic pilot, the daily rat race with all the musts and expectations. Slow down, take some distance, and let go of what no longer serves you. Experience peace and freedom in your mind, your choices and desires, in your life.

We need to realise that we are human beings, not human doings. We are not here to ‘do’, like a robot. As a human doing, you believe that you have to do (perfectly!) in order to be seen and appreciated in our society. And this is how you value yourself and others. Human beings strongly believe in their self-worth, defined by how they stand in life, who they are, their strengths and their vulnerabilities.

To be a stronger human being, a shift is needed: from doing to being. From weak to vulnerable and human. Redefine your definition of success, humanity, balance. Allow yourself to take good care of yourself every day.”

How would you describe self-care?

"Self-care is about responding to your needs. Accepting that you are a human being, with human needs and emotions. Not about 'doing', but about 'being', in the here and now. It's about making your body, and your needs a priority. And then actually making the choice to act on what you feel is needed.

Self-care is not about being in a hurry, but about slowing down. With mildness as a starting point: it's all OK, and good enough.”

When do you find yourself in need of self-care?

"I can sometimes become overwhelmed by a restless and panic-stricken feeling. This can be, for example, during an interaction, or because of a message, phone call, or e-mail from another person. My thoughts then jump from one to the other.

This happens mainly in situations I cannot control - or at least not immediately - or when I cannot understand things emotionally, such as cruelty, injustice, or jealousy. So when I am very strict, agitated, or restless, I notice this need for self-care."

What do you do in such situations?

"This could be anything: expressing an expectation to another, saying no, taking a moment for myself... Anything that is in line with my needs. Whenever restlessness overwhelms me, it helps to get away from the context for a while: go outside, into the garden, or a little further into nature. I live near a river, and I like to go there. Here I can stare ahead, at the clouds in the sky, or at the lapping of the water.

If I get up in the morning feeling restless, even before I know why, I use my moonbird to breathe and then do some gentle yoga postures such as cat cows, child poses, and the downward-facing dogs, while paying attention to my breathing as well.

Holding and stroking my cat, Cupcake, also brings me back to the here and now. I then talk to her for a while and can express my feelings and thoughts.

When I go to bed restless, I like to journal. I ask myself the following questions: What do I want to release today so that I don't take it to bed with me later? What do I need to bring myself to rest? What needs more space at this moment? What do I want to leave behind me today and not take with me to a new day?"

What are regular, daily rituals in your self-care routine?

"Every day I go out for a walk. Often this is in the morning, and if not, then at least in the evening after finishing my working day. This is non-negotiable, just like brushing my teeth. If necessary, I go with an umbrella and raincoat.

My moonbird is always next to my bed, and I regularly use it when I feel the need. Besides exercise, breathing, and sleep, I also believe in nourishing your body, from the inside and the outside. So nutritious food and a natural skincare routine are also essential in my daily life."

What does doing breathing exercises mean to you?

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"Breathing exercises bring me peace and a better connection with my body. I experience that my body and mind are inseparable. These are insights that I also use and share professionally. I often give psycho-education to my clients, for example to clients with burn-out symptoms and panic attacks.

I then explain our sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, and how powerful our breathing is controlling both systems and being able to push the brake pedal. I also use my moonbird to demonstrate to my clients. The feedback is always that it is so soothing and very practical to guide the breathing rhythm."

What do you specifically like about moonbird?

"The tactile aspect is the big plus as far as I'm concerned. The fact that it can also be used without the app is also of great added value to me. I keep it with me in bed, and don't need to take my mobile phone into the bedroom."

For more information about Shannen and her work, visit praktijkbloom.be.

© IMAGES CHRISTINE SMEYERS

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