From Ana Hristić, MA, MSW, CSWA, Training and Education Coordinator, Trauma Informed Oregon
As the Education and Training Coordinator at Trauma Informed Oregon (TIO), I get the opportunity to engage in dialogue with folks in our community and then reflect on ways in which my training and practice is informed by all of you! I really love this part of my job!
Earlier this month, I facilitated a workshop on workforce wellness with 30 Master’s degree students at Portland State University’s School of Social Work. I appreciated having a room full of adults eager to explore what has become a hot topic in the field, self-care. Though we covered much more that day, I continue to be informed by the experience and wanted to share some rough thoughts on the topic. What is your take on self-care?
As I see it
As a reaction to the self-care “movement”, some folks are doing away with care of the self altogether. So as not to collude with those that blame the victim/individual, for example, some folks say that to talk about self-care is to ignore the systemic and operational lack of wellness individuals often find themselves working in. Others remain critical of self-care through the lens of privilege and whitewashing and not wishing to engage in dialogue that’s exclusionary and irrelevant to so many. And, some reflect on the difficulty of engaging in any activities that feel extracurricular or are not embedded in their already maxed-out daily grind. Finally, I’ve heard some individuals not wish to talk about self-care, as much of the focus historically has been about Band-Aid type activities that relieve immediate distress, and not on skill-based activities that promote resilience and sustainability.
While the above analysis of the self-care movement is a VERY important one, I’ve also noticed the importance to complement this rhetoric with a few other considerations. I noticed that this became especially important to me as I spoke to students who aspire to engage sustainably in good work once they graduate.
“don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”
- Self-care can be a form of radical resistance especially in a dominant culture of competition and capitalism where the wellness is not celebrated and valued; to care for (love, accept, nourish, celebrate) the self is a radical act.
- Self-care may be difficult for many of us as we notice having, for years, become experts at prioritizing and valuing the other. After all, it is in service of the other that we have spent long days at work, accepted low paying jobs, carried exorbitant caseloads, etc.
- Self-care is about discovering strategies of both release and restoration, so that at its core lie resilience and sustainability.
- Self-care is nothing without workforce wellness.
- Self-care is an essential part of wellness, and most of us have been doing it all along—we just didn’t call it anything special.
- Vicarious resilience and compassion satisfaction are forms of self-care.
- Self-care is unique to the individual and community it is practiced by; self-care lies at the intersection of race and trauma, social justice, and much more!
- Self-care sometimes involves self-awareness and vulnerability that in some cases doesn’t feel so good.
- Self-care does not mean that you don’t care about others when caring for the “self”—they are not mutually exclusive!
- We don’t have to look far for activities that nourish ourselves; our history and culture could serve as a healer.
- Self-care is not a fad or a trend but a declaration of an essential part of our work.
As I continue to be enriched and informed by dialogue with you all, I will blog on this topic in the future. For now, tell me, how do you relate to self-care and what resources have you found helpful?
Here are a few resources I’ve found inspiring. The first link is a tool to help you evaluate your self-care needs.