11 Self-Care Tips for Therapists

All mental health professionals should understand the importance of self-care. It’s paramount to your mental health, well being, and to help avoid burnout.

As much as you preach the importance of self-care though, do you practice it in your own life and profession? Taking care of yourself will ensure you have the strength to fight off things like compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatization, secondary traumatic stress, and other common challenges mental health professionals face.

Below, find 11 self-care ideas for therapists: 

Set daily intentions for self-care

Schedule regular breaks

Take care of your physical health

Nurture your relationships

Learn to say no 

Embrace your humanity and acknowledge your growth

Identify enjoyable activities or hobbies

Incorporate self-care into small moments of your day

Regularly check in with yourself

Seek help when needed

Remember that self-care is non-negotiable  

The Importance of Self-Care as a Therapist

No matter how much of a pro you might be at helping your clients navigate their emotional well-being, you may forget about taking care of yourself. Therapist self-care is essential for staying emotionally balanced and being able to create healthy boundaries.

Practicing self-care for therapists can help:

Prevent burnout

Avoid compassion fatigue

Enhance professional effectiveness 

Improve mental health outcomes in patients

Foster healthy boundaries

Promote personal growth and development

“It’s very important for a therapist to be in constant gratitude. In this state, I am grateful for sharing information about self-discovery. This constant state of gratitude allows a therapist to have fun in a profession where burnout is common. Gratitude helps them be present with each client knowing that good will come from each session.”

– Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith LCSW DD

11 Self-Care Tips & Techniques for Therapists

By focusing on your needs, you’ll be better equipped to help clients while still achieving a healthy therapist work-life balance. The following 11 self-care tips for therapists are easy to incorporate into your daily life.  

1. Set daily intentions for your self-care practices

One of the most effective and simple self-care ideas for therapists is to start every day with an intention or goal focused on self-care. For example, you might decide in the morning that you’re going to take a walk during your lunch break or dedicate time at the end of your day to relax and read a good book.

2. Schedule regular breaks  

Scheduling breaks is essential, regardless of how busy you are on any given day. Designating time throughout your day can let you step away from work and other responsibilities in life. 

Use this time to practice mindfulness, stretch, do yoga, journal, or get fresh air outside. Breaks help recharge your mental batteries and ensure you’re ready to take on your next challenge.

3. Take care of your physical health

Even if you already make time for your mental well-being, with hectic schedules and many responsibilities weighing you down, it can be easy to let your physical health slip through the cracks. 

Don’t forget to prioritize working out, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Regular physical activity has been found in studies to help reduce stress and boost feelings of positivity and well-being.

4. Nurture your relationships

Spending time with loved ones and people you care about can help you get through those long or arduous days at work. According to research, solid social connections offer valuable emotional support, especially during difficult times.

5. Learn to say no  

Learning to say no and setting boundaries are essential in your professional and personal lives. Being able to say no — and not feel bad about it — protects your time, energy, and mental state. It’s a critical skill you must develop, particularly given your demanding and taxing profession.

“My client told me that she was struggling with the word boundaries. We came up with another word — “guidelines.” Guidelines are things that match our highest potential identity, and they let others know how we can interact with each other. If one of my guidelines is that I only do things that nourish my soul, then violent movies are off-limits. So, if someone wants me to go to a violent movie, the answer is no. Just refer to your guidelines to be in your happy space.”

– Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith LCSW DD

6. Embrace your humanity and acknowledge your growth

Accepting imperfections can be hard for any of us — but when you can look at your mistakes as an opportunity for growth, those challenges can help you professionally and personally in every aspect of life.  

7. Identify enjoyable activities or hobbies

Finding activities outside of work that you love and bring joy to your life is vital for anyone with high-stress jobs, like mental health professionals.

8. Incorporate self-care into small moments in your day

Find small ways throughout your day to integrate self-care into your downtime. For example, you could practice deep breathing exercises between each therapy session or take a short walk around your office during your break.

9. Regularly check in with yourself 

Part of taking care of yourself means routinely checking in to assess how you’re feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically. When you focus on becoming aware of your feelings, you can address things quickly before they escalate.

“Remember, this life can be so much fun. Let your little girl or boy come out to play. When a great song comes on in the grocery store, I am the one boogieing down the aisle. When the new “Little Mermaid” came out, I sent out an important invitation to all of my female friends to show up at the theater in their best mermaid outfits. It was an opportunity to get out the green hair color and glitter eye shadow. Such great playful energy. The best way to care for your mental health is to create fun.”

– Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith LCSW DD

10. Seek help when you need it

Just like you’d recommend for a patient, it’s important to recognize when you need help, too. Seek support from colleagues, supervisors, or mentors when you feel overwhelmed. It can help change your mindset so you can recover from the burdens and stress of your profession.

11. Remember that self-care is non-negotiable

Self-care should be a non-negotiable in life. The importance of prioritizing your own mental and physical well-being is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. When you prioritize your self-care using the self-care ideas for therapists we’ve discussed here, you’ll position yourself in a place that allows you to offer superior care for every client, every day.

Assessing Your Well-Being

As a mental health professional, you should take the time to assess how you’re doing so you can identify places where you might need more self-care. Recognizing signs of therapist burnout or emotional exhaustion early and seeking intervention when necessary will be key to helping you recover.

How to assess your well-being:

Monitor your physical health: Pay attention to changes in sleep, eating habits, energy levels, or appetite. Significant changes in anything related to your physical health might indicate stress or fatigue.

Evaluate your emotional wellness: If you’re feeling overly irritable or sad, or if anxiety and depression are prevalent at any moment, your body might be giving you warning signs that you should pay attention to.

Analyze your work-life balance: Getting caught up in the busy cycle of life is easy, but ensuring balance is key to being an effective mental health professional.

Acknowledge your achievements and your growth areas: Don’t forget to recognize your successes when you have them and pay attention to places where you feel you can grow.

Prioritizing Self-Care as a Therapist with Talkspace

As a therapist, you know how important taking care of yourself is. Incorporating self-care into your lifestyle will help you achieve work-life balance, avoid exhaustion, and remain mentally healthy.  

Talkspace is an online therapy platform that acknowledges the essential aspect of self-care for therapists. Talkspace therapists enjoy flexible scheduling options so you can manage your workload effectively without sacrificing personal time or compromising on the treatment you provide. There are also opportunities for continuing education and peer consultation groups for even more support toward growth and development in your profession. Talkspace therapists also don’t have to deal with billing and overhead issues, which can be stressful and time-consuming.

Learn more about how becoming a Talkspace therapist can be a great addition to your overall self-care practice. Reducing stress, enhancing capabilities, gaining support, and having the time and energy to do what you love — helping people — can be precisely what you’ve been searching for in your profession.


Childs E, de Wit H. Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in Physiology. 2014;5. doi:10.3389/fphys.2014.00161. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013452/. Accessed June 8, 2023.

Umberson D, Karas Montez J. Social Relationships and Health: A flashpoint for health policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 2010;51(1_suppl). doi:10.1177/0022146510383501. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/.  Accessed June 8, 2023.

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