Dr Sheri Jacobson on the importance of self-care - The Mind Map
By Jack Gough

Dr Sheri Jacobson on the importance of self-care

“Dig into your tool kit and pull out something that you know from experience works for you.”

Published 29/08/2018

Hailing from Canada, Dr Sheri Jacobsen is a retired senior therapist turned founder of innovative online therapy start up Harley Therapy Platform. The Mary Berry of Therapy, if you like. Dr Sheri’s new platform makes getting counselling accessible and straightforward, either online via Skype, in person or by phone. Sheri believes therapy can help anyone to transform their lives, no matter who they are or how big a problem may seem.

Read on as we uncover Sheri’s thoughts on self-care, her idea of a perfect day, and her soft spot for rap music.

What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?

I am engrossed in a podcast series called ‘How I Built This’ where the excellent interviewer Guy Raz uncovers the start up stories of the likes of Instagram, Stripe, Lululemon, and Chipotle. I love learning from different industries. By complete contrast I also love listening to rap music – my shadow side is drawn to artists like Cardi B and the recently deceased Xxxtencion. I’ve got five books on the go – I pick up whichever one suits my mood. Currently ‘The New Codependency’ by Melody Beattie is my most read – a great book for people pleasers! I rarely watch TV but have recently reignited my love of foreign films and saw a macabre one lately at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (Pall Mall, London) called ‘Under the Trees’.

What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?

My biggest challenge is one that is ongoing – self-care. As a therapist seeing clients all week alongside being a business owner sacrificing everything to work, it was easy to overlook my wellbeing. Although people pleasing is a trademark in the helping professions it meant that I put myself last often and perpetuated low self-esteem. Tending to my physical and mental wellbeing was critical in surmounting this challenge. As is setting boundaries and learning to say no to incoming offers and invitations. I’ve made strides but it is still a work in progress.

What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?

That my appetite for learning and growth is larger than I thought. That I need to balance this with the reality of there only being 24 hours in a day. That I need to be selective in how and with whom I spend my time. And that if I don’t attend to my health then one of my psychological or psychosomatic issues will surface – anxiety, skin rashes or both (as I believe they are interlinked).

What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?

A perfect day to me is more or less how my current days unfold. Do the school run, walk or rollerblade in Hyde Park, have our daily catch up conference call (our fabulous team work remotely), make other calls, have two or three work meetings over a vegan lunch or dinner, put my daughter to bed and do a bunch more work until as late as I can stretch it (sometimes ignoring that sleep is needed for good health…)

For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

For the opportunity to make a difference to the world I came into. It’s the most incredible feeling to be able to craft something with talented people where collectively we can help thousands, and in time, millions of people.

Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”

Seeing my therapist weekly, going to group therapy as often as possible, having at least one self-help book on the go and topping up with therapy retreats.

What do you eat to stay healthy?

I have a plant based diet primarily. I went off red meat at eight years old after a bad incident with a burger! I avoid dairy for lactose intolerance, environmental, and moral reasons. I do sneak in fish though (still debating/discovering if fish have feelings…).

Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?

I’m fairly structured with exercise so there is no excuse for me to duck out. I go to the gym twice a week for weight training, boxing and treadmill sprints. I go on organised rollerblading skates from Hyde Park two to three times a week, weather dependent. Plus I walk (and take the stairs!) wherever I can.

What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?

I’ve read David Burn’s ‘Feeling Good’ over a dozen times and recommended it to countless clients. It covers anxiety and depression as well as anger management. It’s an old book now with a dated section on medication but is a classic in my eyes.

What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?

Identify what you are feeling and how your body is reacting. Notice the thoughts that accompany it and what negative behaviours you are considering (binge eating, drinking, avoiding people). Dig into your tool kit and pull out something that you know from experience works for you. This could be anything from doing a gratitude exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness, self compassion, time in nature, to watching a comedy or calling a friend (me!).