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Finding Time for Self-Care

Navigating and reconstructing micro, mezzo, macro systems requires us as social workers to be on the top of our game. We are also aware that being alert and conscious to these challenges happens best when we focus on our self-care; while remaining aware of positionality. No doubt, the demand for social workers, sadly, gets geometrically difficult because societal crises prevents us from letting go of our grassroots and advocacy responsibilities, while performing what we get paid to do; providing direct services. Add to this the intentionality of the United States to reduce, if not eliminate all together our leisure time, and what we have is an intelligence of undeserving high stress experts.

Certainly, the individualism this nation promotes is responsible for a nation living with an epidemic of mental illness. The field of public policy is too important and valuable to keep us away. Public policy has gone awry and now more than ever the buck that creates leisure time to be distributed by race-class- gender must stop with us; and our mind must be operating at its best.

Leisure time sadly in my community has historically been viewed again as privilege, connected to race, class and gender. I challenge us to stop viewing leisure time as a privilege and insert it as a necessity. I have found that establishing time has been a mental health benefit. Although I wish it was a standard operating procedure, it has not been. For starters, I learned quickly that the time I set aside had to be flexible, but it had to exist, not just for ourselves as Social Workers, but for all human beings.

While I try to set my schedule bi-weekly, you may be more comfortable with a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule. There is no right time to start, in this case, I would say like Nike “just do it!”  Set a recurring date with a reminder on your electronic calendar. If you are like me and still use a hard copy, place a smiley face on that day; a nice reminder that much needed self-care is quickly approaching.

Dates “for me” are most often inexpensive. From quality baths with a great book, a trip to the museum, jazz lounges, or even something as simple as taking a walk, have been some of my outlets. Road trips, making deliberate time to catch up with those I have been missing because of hectic schedules, or taking myself out for a meal, are other ways in which I relax, regroup, and find my center of balance again. For others a day of relaxation may include being around people for refueling. Understanding your positionality while being aware of yourself will help you decide the best methods for self-care.

So my fellow cohorts, here’s to our well-being and most of all being agents of change for our clients. Here’s to restoring and building bridges. Here’s to learning something new while teaching someone something new. Here’s to deconstruction of social constructs and to the empowerment of change and community. Here’s to self-care. This is where advocacy and grassroots initiative cannot be sacrificed.


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