Self-Care Tools

Here are some tools to help you care for yourself during transitions, or any time at all.

1. Ground Yourself

When you are experiencing change, it’s helpful to have something you can focus on that is constant, comforting and meaningful to you. Choose an image that provides you with hope, comfort, and meaning. An image can be anything you do or call up in your mind when you need it, at a moment’s notice.

Here are some examples:
  • a physical position or movement, such as putting your feet flat on the ground, or putting your hand on your heart
  • a visual image, such as a place you love, a person, or a symbol
  • a word or phrase that is calming to you
Call up this image, even for a minute, when you’re feeling anxious, sad, self-doubtful or any of the other feelings that tend to surface during uncertain times.

2. Be Patient with Yourself

Remember that no matter how swift the external change, internally, change is a process. What might happen in an instant can take months or years to process and integrate inside. As part of this process, you will likely find yourself experiencing different moods and feelings, some might be enjoyable, some not. Keep in mind that your moods and feelings, too, will flow and change. Difficult memories might surface, and so will your vulnerabilities. So will your strengths, if you let them.

3. Make Time for Yourself 

Make time every day for yourself, whether it’s five minutes or a few hours. Do something that makes you feel peaceful, centered and grounded. For example: walk or sit in a nature setting; read something that inspires you, such as a biography, page-a-day, or spiritual reading; meditate; journal; draw; take yourself out, or in, for coffee or tea.

You will probably have to set boundaries with people and commitments in your life in order to make this time for yourself, and to prevent interruptions. This can be quite a challenge, but it is one that is crucial and worth cultivating, both for your transition and for your life.

Think about these questions:
  • When in your day will you make time for yourself?
  • How will you spend this time?
  • What boundaries will you have to set to secure this time for yourself?
4. Trust Yourself, or Learn To Trust Yourself

Early experiences and aspects of our culture often teach people to look to other people, achievements and material success for validation and a sense of self. Transitions are an opportunity to learn to trust yourself—that quiet voice within you that knows what’s best for you, but that you might have difficulty listening to because there are so many other competing voices and opinions about who you are and what you should do.

The other tools described here are designed to help you make use of a transition to enhance your ability to trust yourself, and to shape your life from the inside out, to every extent possible.

5. Find Someone to Talk to

Find someone to talk to about your transition, preferably someone who isn’t involved in your life, such as a therapist or coach. Someone who will encourage you and help you listen to your own voice, and who will not impose their opinions or agenda on you, someone who will help you learn to trust yourself. Someone who will challenge you in a way that feels safe and comfortable, but not too comfortable.

While you want to stay in touch with people you care about, you need to consider whether they are the best people to talk with about some aspects of your transition. The changes you are going through might impact your partner’s, family member’s, friend’s or co-worker’s own situations, fears or disappointments. People in your life might fear losing you or their relationship with you in its current form. A therapist or coach can help you find a way to maintain your important relationships while also giving you space to work on what’s changing in your life.
© Copyright 2009 Maxine Sushelsky

Maxine Sushelsky, LMHC provides individual and group psychotherapy for people going through transitions.  For more information on Maxine's practice, please call Maxine at 781-874-1970, or email her 


  1. Maxine, this is a really helpful article with tips for transitions. I think you're spot on with your tip "Do something that makes you feel peaceful, centered and grounded." I'm going to share this with our counseling team. Thanks again!

    1. Thank you. I'm glad you found the article helpful.