7 Self-Care Strategies for Social Workers
Tips for proper self care in a caring profession, via our addiction recovery center:
To create a healthy social work practice, it is necessary to have healthy social workers. But because of the nature of this caring profession, many social workers allow their own personal health to fall to the wayside.
Social workers are taught to care for others but not always for themselves. Many social workers have said something along the lines of “I don’t have enough time to do my job well and take care of myself,” and therefore deny themselves the self care strategies social workers need. Many social workers suffer from burnout, a job hazard that has become synonymous with social work. But we believe that social workers can improve their lives and professions through the practice of self care.
It is certainly true that the job demands of social work often exceed the hours of the day. But, it is also true that one cannot do their job well without self care, especially over the long term. In order to be effective social workers, one must make time for self care.
Self care must be planned and implemented ahead of time. Once burnout has set in, it is unlikely that self-care strategies will be effective enough to reverse it on their own. That’s why our addiction recovery center has compiled a list of self care strategies to prevent burnout to include in your daily routine.
The 7 Categories of Self Care Strategies Social Workers Need
Self care begins in the workplace by setting up a professional space that supports you and your needs. Set up a peer support group at work in order to stay accountable about self care. Seek out mentors who can give you tips on avoiding burnout. And take the time to attend professional development activities to think about your professional goals.
Physical care is one of the most important self care strategies social workers need, and yet it is so often the last priority of the busy professional. Carve out time in your schedule to exercise regularly, plan out healthy meals, and get some well-deserved rest. Physical self care is not optional!
In order to remain clear-headed and in the game, take care of your mind. When you are able, turn off your phone and email when you leave work, spend time with your family and friends, or take up a hobby. Journaling is also a great tool for relaxing your mind and reflecting on your life inside and outside of work. If you are having trouble leaving work at work, consider speaking to a counselor or other mental health professional.
Ask yourself how you feel on a regular basis. Do you feel tired? Stressed? Bored? Angry? Happy? Be honest with yourself, and then think about what you need, based on these feelings. Do you need to spend time with a social group besides your professional peers? Do you need to be kinder to yourself and appreciate the hard work you are doing? Don’t be afraid to confront your feelings.
If you are a religious person, find ways to keep this in your life. But if religion isn’t your thing, you can still use the practice of spiritual self-care. This can involve focusing on the big picture through practices like meditation, yoga, or mindfulness activities to help you keep things in perspective.
Take time to cultivate diverse and meaningful relationships, because these people will become the core of your support system when you are going through particularly stressful times. Prioritize what relationships are most important to you, and make concrete steps in keeping these relationships healthy.
What might get in the way of your self-care strategies? It is vital to consider what potential obstacles might hinder your self-care practice. Anticipate these obstacles, and work to avoid them before they can affect your plan.
At Recovery Centers of America, we know that caring for yourself is just as important as caring for other people. Self-care strategies social workers employ are useful for all caring professionals, and our addiction recovery center supports the use of these strategies — so that we can best serve our clients and patients.
To learn more about the work of Lighthouse and our mission to help patients, families and caring professionals, contact us today by calling 1-800-RECOVERY.