Self-care…I heard a lot about how I should practice self-care while getting my degree in social work, but not much about what it should look like and how to do it. Coming to social work from bodywork (I am a licensed massage therapist), I was very aware of the critical importance of self-care and how to incorporate it into my schedule.Based on prior experience and conversations with colleagues, here are my top 5 tips for self-care:
- Plan and schedule it!
We plan for everything: meetings at work, dinners with friends, doctor appointments…you name it, and it probably has a space on your calendar. Your self-care practice should not be any different. My social work friends and I try for “Self-Care Sunday” every other week. We all have different work experiences, but our daily routine can start to wear us down. These self-care get-togethers give us something to look forward to during stressful times and help reboot our thinking so we stay positive and mentally healthy.
- Talk about self-care activities, and include friends and family.
My group meets a couple times a month, and we encourage each other to do self-care activities by ourselves between our get-togethers. I am an introvert and need more alone time than others, so a little time by myself after work can be helpful. I like to de-compress by reading and drinking tea in my sunroom. By including friends and family, we help each other be accountable.
- Keep it simple.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, long trip to a hot and humid country, but simple things like dim sum on a Sunday morning, getting a manicure or pedicure, talking a walk, or a night making dinner and watching movies with friends and family are fantastic de-stressors! These simple activities help me feel better and recharge so I can keep doing the work I do.
- Keep work/personal boundaries in place.
Boundaries can be really hard to keep in place, especially for those of us who have to be on call or available day or night. If possible, try to keep work and personal schedules separate. There may be times when you need to work late or go to the office early, but it’s okay to let something wait until the next day if it is not urgent.
- Have fun!
I have fun doing all of my self-care activities: crafting, hiking, going to the beach, and reading a book with a big cup of tea.
One final point: Make it your own. There is no single formula that works for everyone. Do the things you enjoy by yourself and with others. I find it helpful to smile, laugh, and enjoy the company of others to help revive my energy level. As with anything, the more you practice self-care, the better you get at it.
What works for you? Please share your self-care suggestions, comments, or thoughts.
Learn more about self-care with this t3 Knowledge @ Work webinar on "Self-Care: Don't Forget to Breathe."
For more tips on maintaining healthy boundaries with clients, watch this t3 webcast on "Boundaries in Human Services Work."