Socialworkhelper.com focusing on the relationship between self-care and burnout. It was a great event, a mutual process to engage, share and support (you can view the recap here: Live Twitter Chat). As the days have past from this chat I have digested the discussion, while taking into account the feedback and outcomes as a result. You see, the format of the chat is rather quick, one hour in length and as the featured guest I wanted to make sure that while I was participating I did my best to address any and all questions that were coming my way, in 140 characters or less! However, there is so much to share in this needed area of support and so there will always be a need to educate and advocate further...
What I hope to share in this post are my thoughts that have come after the fact, while reinforcing the importance and value we must place on self-care (with a freedom to express more than just a few sentences). In conceiving the idea for this post, I went back into the past and re-read a previous entry that I had put out as an opportunity to educate, advocate and share about self-care, and what it meant through my eyes. I thought It would be a great opportunity to build upon on this post, hence the title, here is the first part: Self-Care, What Exactly Is That?
It is fair to say that (we can all agree) self-care is so needed in our profession in order to thrive and survive, often without the needed support one would hope to find at their respective places of employment. It is fair to say that there are some common ways one would enact self-care: exercise, support system, writing, limitations and boundaries. Sounds pretty matter of fact huh? That's the thing self-care is only as difficult as one makes it to be. For example, the time spent convincing yourself that "I don't have the time" is doing only one thing, reinforcing an outcome that you believe more and more as you say it over and over. Listen up, (in other words Can You Hear Me?) you make the time! If something is of value and importance than guess what? You have the time! Self-Care only becomes unavailable and looked upon as a chore when you identify it as one. When Self-Care becomes a want, a choice/belief and a commitment, then as Sister Maya says "If you're for the right thing, than you do it without thinking." Furthermore, anything that requires effort, discipline and determination can be viewed as work in its essence, but this kind of work is so necessary in order for you to meet the needs of your personal self and professional practice. Therefore, think of Self-Care not as simple, but necessary!
Before I wrap this piece up I want to leave you with some ways that I have come upon to enact and manage my own Self-Care. Let me preface this by saying that my path towards buying into this process (both personally and professionally) has come with some life lessons that have brought to my knees while holding me accountable in a manner that has me all in, wholeheartedly!
- Here is one that I picked up from Tony Dungy after reading his book Uncommon (Finding your Path to Significance). He shared an example of how he puts a "tough day" behind him when he arrives home. Before he enters his house, he pauses near his mailbox, clears his mind and then opens the box and puts his day inside and closes the lid, now it's time to go inside to what matters the most! I practice this when needed, it helps me stay mindful and aware of where I need to be.
- Every night before I go to bed (about an hour before) I turn off my phone and the television, or shut down the computer if I happen to be working. I eliminate the background noise and grab a book or my journal and I breathe into the pages in front of me. This prevents me from being attached and consumed to the devices that I am sure I have spent enough time with already.
- The last, and something that many often do not take serious enough, I get my rest. I go to bed at the same time nightly so I can keep myself regulated while getting the needed amount of rest, something I didn't always practice because I didn't value the importance of consistent sleeping cycles, and I was unable to achieve the amount of sleep to be well. However, when you struggle with sleep and turn to unhealthy ways to manage this, you may find yourself unable to sleep for nearly six days straight, and then you may find yourself ending up in an inpatient bed. If this is to happen (as it did to me) than you are provided with a very, very real wake-up call, Can You Hear Me?
Self-Care, What Exactly is That? If I have empowered and supported you today, then my writing has resulted in an opportunity to facilitate learning, encourage risk and support struggle. What you do with it from here is always a "choice" that you get to make, I'm just trying to hold the door open for you... Breathe well out there, and when you find yourself unable to, please understand that the opportunity to overcome is available, as long as you are!
Daniel Jacob, MSW Email
Founder of Can You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process.
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