Self-Care Tips for Social Workers

For social workers, case managers, and all involved in treating trauma or abuse, it is very important to incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Here are 8 self-care tips for you to explore that can help thwart burnout or compassion fatigue.

1. Structure and schedule how you use your time
Set limits to your schedule, client needs, and even your family commitments. A structured schedule helps prevent burnout and identifies when you work and when you have downtime.

2. Eat, Drink and Sleep Well
Eat healthily, stay hydrated, and get enough rest to fuel your schedule and demands of social work.

3. Maintain Boundaries
Maintain boundaries with clients, colleagues, friends, or family. Boundary issues are usually covered in ethics classes but it bears repeating. Maintain your boundaries and don’t give in to pressures that, over time, could become the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

4. Schedule time for fun
Create time for enjoyable pursuits whether it is walking and bicycling to dancing, reading or journaling.

5. Don’t Be a Sponge
Social workers can experience vicarious traumatization when treating clients. Experiencing vicarious trauma calls for immediate action, such as taking a break, vacation, or talking with your supervisor.

6. Get Moving!
Physical movement “fuels the brain’s stress buffers.” Incorporate walking, swimming, stretching, dancing or yoga into your daily routine. Guidelines recommend 150 minutes or 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity a week. Does that overwhelm you? Well, remember that starting anywhere is better than not starting at all!

7. Gotta Get Away
Use your personal and vacation time. If a trip is not feasible then any slight change of environment and scenery can be invigorating – even if only for a day.

8. Talk About It
Finally, identify someone to speak with about work, your stressors, or whatever is on your mind. This may be a supervisor at work or a therapist outside of the job.
Schedule time to care for yourself, starting today.

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