“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
March is Social Work Month. The 2018 Social Work Month theme “Social Workers: Leaders. Advocates. Champions” shouldn’t just apply to the work we do on behalf of our clients. As social workers, we must be our own best leaders, advocates, and champions. While the purpose of the social work month campaign is also to improve the image and respect of the social work profession by educating the public, the media and elected officials about our great profession, we should strive to take better care of each other. I invite social workers to also use social work month to hold each other accountable for adequate and responsible self-care so that more of us avoid burnout and compassion fatigue.
Fact: Many social workers are over worked and under paid.
Self-care is an essential social work skill. Self-care refers to the activities that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Self-care entails making healthy lifestyle choices and eliminating and managing stress. Self-care is intentional, comprehensive, ongoing and necessary in order to perform at your professional best.
Here are 31 Ways Social Workers Can Practice Self-Care:
- Commit to yourself
- Make your health a priority
- Set clear boundaries
- Live beneath your means
- Enroll in continuing education courses
- Ask for a utilize supervision
- Get active
- Plan leisure time in your schedule
- Combat negative self talk
- Pray and use positive affirmations
- Pay attention to your body and the signals it sends you
- Take regular bubble baths after work
- Learn meditation techniques
- Get a regular massage, manicure, or pedicure
- Listen to your favorite songs
- Know your triggers
- Keep a professional journal
- Read a good book
- Advocate for yourself
- Be authentically you
- Trust your instincts
- Get adequate rest and sleep
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Spend time with people you love
- Avoid toxic people
- Laugh more often
- Get comfortable with saying no
- Release any guilt that is weighing you down
- Regularly disconnect from the news and social media
- Avoid tobacco, recreational drugs, and over indulging in alcohol and food
- Seek professional mental health support when needed
The bottom line is that you must develop your own individualized self-care regiment that works best for your overall health and wellness. Happy Social Work Month!
Nicki Sanders, MSW, is a cupcake lover with a passion for self-discovery and career development. She has a strong background in developing and managing interns and successful internship programs. She is an accomplished manager, professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has packaged her Master of Social Work degree and 20 years of diverse work experience into Packaged For Success, a full service training and professional development company.
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