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Self-Care for Social Workers…And Everyone!

Laurel S.
Laurel S.

Social Workers are well aware of the importance of self-care. In fact, it is something that everyone should pay attention to. Ensuring that our own needs are met, relaxing and spending time with whom and what we enjoy, and making sure that we recharge our batteries are all important aspects of self-care. In that vein, over the past few months, I have spent most of my Sundays doing something I am not really used to doing. But I have found it so helpful for my own self-care!

Resting

As in, sleeping. After church and lunch, I have been climbing into my bed, tucked nice and warm under a heated blanket (cold weather has lingered far too long) and sleeping all afternoon. Allowing my body and mind to catch up on the sleep I so desperately need but don’t always get. Going into a deep slumber away from the busyness and the chaos that is the life I love, but need a break from sometimes. In fact, just knowing that I will have this time for myself helps me breathe easier during the stressful weeks.

When I first started taking these naps, I felt guilty. I questioned myself for not being productive during that time. I wondered if my time would be better spent doing something else. After all, who doesn’t have a never ending “to do” list? But, then, God reminded me of something. A very  simple truth from the first pages of the Old Testament.

God rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done. (Paraphrased from Genesis 2:2).

Exodus 20:8-11 tells us to keep the Sabbath day holy, and again reminds us that God Himself rested on the 7th day.  Fellow social workers, if God Himself rested…shouldn’t we? He had a plan for this rest and I believe we should honor that. Thankfully, I came to the realization that I was being productive during these naps. They are just what I need to help re-energize for another busy week to come. And we all know that in order to help care for others, we have to take care of ourselves.

Perhaps not everyone needs the extra sleep, but there are different ways to rest. Maybe you make sure Sundays are spent with family and friends. Maybe you make sure you don’t work on Sundays (unless it’s really necessary). Maybe you take a break from your computer and phone. There are lots of ways to take a break to rest. I am thankful for rest. It’s the self-care I need to recharge. I hope you also rest. May I suggest you go take a nap?

Dr. Laurel Shaler is a licensed social worker in South Carolina and Virginia with a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision. She is an Assistant Professor at Liberty University where she serves as director of the Human Services Counseling Program. Laurel has been a member of NACSW since 2011.  Read more of her writing on her blog, “Lessons From Laurel.”  You can also connect with her on Facebook  or on twitter via @DrLaurelShaler.

4 thoughts on “Self-Care for Social Workers…And Everyone!

  1. Yes!!! Several years ago, my husband and I realized that Sundays had, sadly, become the busiest days of our week. One Sunday we called a halt to all of the excessive activity and started taking naps and relaxing every Sunday. I can honestly say that it was the best thing we have ever done. Thank you for reminding us of this important truth!

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Laurel! Sometimes social workers emphasize "work" above all. We feel the pull of the needs of those we serve and neglect the rest that brings renewal. I appreciate the great reminder to rest.

  3. Laurel,

    As a fellow educator, I have to commend you for modeling the material that we teach. Too often I find myself talking to my students about self-care and not doing such a good job of it myself. It's a real gift when students can see someone they admire actually taking the time to be still and rest.

  4. Laurel, you have reminded us that we all need to take a Sabbath for both our spiritual and physical health. If all we bring to those we love and those we serve is a frazzled, worn-out self, then we not much of a gift! Rest in the Lord every day that He gives us.

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