The Road to Self-Care
Self-care. Why do we as professionals need self-care, and how do we implement it?
Why do I need self-care?
In order to understand what self-care is and how to begin, we must first become aware of how self-care affects our daily lives, specifically within the professional setting. According to Jay Miller (2019), “Self-care affects a myriad of aspects…such as staff morale, professional accountability, ethical conduct, burnout, and ultimately the health of our organizations and the profession itself.” Without the practice of self-care, the day-to-day stresses of working in the nonprofit sector can add up in a way we may not be fully aware of. In short, lack of self-care could ultimately lead to earlier burnout and overall stress. Incorporating self-care skills and techniques into your daily work can enhance your opportunity to grow, learn, and teach (Melinda Lewis, 2019). Why is practicing self-care so important? It allows our minds to relax, our thoughts to flow without being restricted, produces creativity and longevity within your field, and sets the body up to become its healthiest self.
Is self-care that important?
We professionals are aware of the everyday struggle to find the time to decompress and to whole-heartedly focus on ourselves. Therefore, it is easy to brush off the importance of self-care. It is unusual to hear of earlier generations taking a ‘Mental Health Day’ or utilizing all of their vacation days to go on vacation and leave work completely behind. It’s rare for people to just simply take a 10-minute break to walk outside, breathe the fresh air and connect with their surroundings - but it is highly recommended and needed! Susannah Winters (2019) speaks to the reasons why self-care is crucial and emphasizes how stress is one of the leading causes of health problems in the United States. Humans think roughly 600,000 thoughts per day, with 80% being negative when zero self-care is practiced. All-in-all, self-care in not only important, but it is necessary to thrive within the current working world.
What are the self-care options?
One of the greatest things about self-care is the fact it does not have to take a lot of time and/or money to do. Sure, a spa day sounds amazing, but to be practical, a home face mask and relaxing music will do the trick. Susannah Winters reports on just three things it takes to get the most out of your self-care routine: moments of stillness and silence, movement (any type of exercise), and time in nature. Each of these three aspects allows for the individual to disconnect from their work and reconnect with themselves and the earth around them. Another great aspect of self-care is how customizable it is, therefore practicing self-care just 30 minutes a day can improve your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health both inside and out of the office. You are in control of your self-care in all areas, and it is time to indulge yourself with care!
J “Jay” Miller, Erlene Grise-Owens, Self-Care: An Imperative, Social Work, Volume 65, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 5–9, https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/swz049
Melinda L. Lewis & Dione M. King (2019) Teaching self-care: The utilization of self-care in social work practicum to prevent compassion fatigue, burnout, and vicarious trauma, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 29:1, 96-106, DOI: 10.1080/10911359.2018.1482482
Susannah Winters. 2019. Self Care: What It Really Is. TEDxHiltonHeadWomen. www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBn0ETS6XDk
Emily Fatheree is an ABN intern and an Advanced Standing Student in the University of Tennessee's Master of Science in Social Work and Veterinary Social Work programs. She enjoys advocating for and with a variety of populations, and is passionate about informing others on important issues experienced by humans and animals around the globe.