Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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Self Care


Is it time for you to take care of yourself? If you are overtired, stressed, worried about your parents, your children, your friends, what about your job and your boss? Health issues? Will it never end? If this does not apply to you, read no more. If you're content, your life goals secured, your career on track, your family issues settled, read no more. If, however, the spirit of discontent or disillusion moves you, if there is a disconnect between what you want and what you have, then read on. Consider the possibility that you can take some time to think about your own needs and wants. Consider the possibility of taking some time for yourself so that you can become energized and revitalized. But, you say, there is no time for yourself. You say, the problem is time, that there's not enough time to do whatever you have to do and is no time left over for yourself. However, time spent on self-care will actually help you "make time" by helping you gather energy to cope with all your responsibilities. By making a few life changes in self-care, you will also have new energy to share in caring for others as well as yourself.

If this article speaks to you, read on. Take this time to consider your options. I am a psychologist with a lifetime of experience as a woman, wife, mother, friend, and as a therapist and life coach for many clients. As I settle into a mature phase of my life, I hope to share what I have experienced and learned. I have realized that self-care is a critical ingredient in nurturing ourselves and others. Self-care is very different from selfishness. Self-care is responsible attention to meeting our own needs, allowing us to become altruistic toward ourselves and others without depleting our resources. Selfishness, on the other hand, promotes ones own welfare without regard for others, often resulting in direct or indirect harm to other people.

I've also learned the importance of a balanced life. Positive physical and mental health results when we can achieve a balance in our lives between opposites such as work and play, concentration and relaxation, noise and solitude, home life and work activities, exercise and sleep, material and spiritual matters, and so forth. Stress occurs when life is over-focused in some areas while important needs are ignored. If you take a moment you can probably identify areas of imbalance in your life. An important part of self-care is recognizing and correcting these imbalances. Most people don't stop to realize that we have the power of choice. The more " stuck" we feel, the more we need to exercise our freedom of life choice. If you are still reading this article, you may feel " stuck," overworked, overtired, constantly "running on empty" and never catching up. Research has shown that, when we choose to change our behavior and lifestyle toward greater balance and self-care, other positive changes follow. You can make some changes yourself, although many people profit from sessions with a therapist or life coach to refocus and plan these life changes. As a simple experiment, consider the influence of TV in your life. Many of us find life dominated by the television set, either finding ourselves exhausted "couch potatoes" at the end of the day or running around the house doing chores with the TV on in the background. If so, consider turning off that television set occasionally. You'll find more peace and quiet and less stress when you are freed from the bombardment of bad news, numbing sitcoms or artificially engineered reality shows. You'll find you can get news from news magazines and enjoyment from real life activities. You'll find you sleep better at night if you turn down the light, the noise and the distraction levels of TV programming. This is just one simple step, but simple steps add up.

I've learned a lot about living and enjoying life, and I'd like to share more of what I've learned with you. A part of self-care is learning to conquer personal problems, stress and depression and then learning how to achieve a state of happiness and optimism. The other four articles I wrote in this Reading Room address these issues.

Self-help articles and books are valuable sources of new ideas, but often difficult to put into practice. Not all of the good ideas will apply to you, and it's difficult to pick out the ideas most applicable to your life circumstances. Reading too many good ideas can be overwhelming and even discouraging. Then, the good ideas too often fall victim to the routines and pressures of daily life. That's where the individual assistance of a psychologist or life coach comes in.

I am very excited to introduce my Forest Garden office described in this web site. The office is a part of my life work and goals, illustrating a way to achieving peace and harmony through contact with natural beauty and with the individual attention of a trained and experienced psychologist/life coach. The gardens and fountains provide year-round interest. In the spring or summer we can sit and talk on the counseling porch overlooking the flowers, watch the butterflies and hummingbirds, listen to the soothing noise of the water fountains, or we can choose to walk on the walking trail through the woods. Another choice is to retreat to the air-conditioned office with its own water fountains. In the winter we can sit around a fire in the fireplace with the trees and evergreens as the backdrop through the windows. The office setting illustrates how the introduction of peace and beauty into your life functions as an antidote to stress. More information about this office as well as my training and background is available on this website.

There is a wisdom that comes with life and experience and there is a wisdom that comes with surviving and learning from life crises. Life is not all sunshine. Some of our peace and happiness needs to be won in spite of adversity. I have learned a lot from life problems such as parenting children into adulthood, caring for elderly parents, grieving family deaths, coping with work and financial crises and surviving health problems. If you feel like you are just "treading water" in your life or even "drowning" in difficult life circumstances, I'd like to share a helping hand.