Ways to Practice Self-Care

Working in what you might call a “helping profession” is something that can provide a lot of highs and lows. In the role of a Supports Planner, I get to make a direct difference in people’s lives by helping them receive home and community-based services that make it possible for them to remain living independently. There are also low moments where there are particularly difficult situations or defeating decisions about the amount of care someone qualifies for, etc. As Director of the Supports Planning Agency, I also manage a team of Supports Planners and juggle my regular caseload with playing the part of a supervisor with additional meetings and responsibilities.

One thing I make sure to emphasize to both my team and myself is the importance of self-care. You cannot help someone else unless you are also taking care of yourself. Self-care takes many different forms and looks different to each person depending on their preferences. The most important thing is that you are finding something that helps you relax and that makes you happy. Here are some of the things that I do to practice self-care:

  1. Alone time. I am an introvert. Now you might be wondering how I ended up in a profession where I interact with people almost all day every day, but what can I say, I love what I do. The way I feed my introverted side is by giving myself time to recharge. My husband and I love spending time together and we do that a lot, but at least once a week he plays video games downstairs while I relax and read upstairs alone (would love to say that I read, but really I am watching some form of mindless TV and doing a facemask haha).
  2. Reality TV/video games. While I do relax watching other forms of TV or movies, I find that reality TV really allows my brain to shut down and get lost in other people’s lives for a little while. The same thing goes for video games. It’s a whole other world that allows me to leave behind anything I might be carrying from work or any other kind of stress.
  3. Getting my nails done. This isn’t something that happens weekly, but I try to go and get my nails done with some regularity. Sometimes I go with friends or my mom, but even if no one is able to come I go on my own. I love fun nail art or picking different fun colors. I feel like it’s a great way to express creativity. I also find that it’s an hour where you have to put down your phone because someone is working on your hands. And you just get to sit in a comfy chair and get pampered.
  4. Spending time with my husband and cats. While this might not seem quite like something that should be in the “self-care” category because it is just living life, I do believe it belongs here because both my husband and my cats bring me endless amounts of joy. They make me laugh and we have a lot of fun together. It’s important to surround yourself with people that bring you happiness and support you. This really helps get you through stressful or overwhelming situations.
  5. Visiting with other animals. I absolutely love animals and there is something about cuddling with something furry that puts a smile on my face. Luckily most of my friends have a pet of some sort all of whom I love and will pet and cuddle at any opportunity. Even getting pictures from friends of their animals or looking at adorable animal videos online can give me that little boost I need to get through a hard day.
  6. Spending time with family and friends. Sometimes when you’re in the beginning stages of burnout it can be really hard to motivate yourself not to give into that feeling to isolate yourself. Making plans with family or friends is a great way to combat this. It is hard to dwell in a negative space when you are out doing something fun or having people over for dinner.
  7. Gardening and cooking with the things that we grow. This is not for everyone, but there is definitely a certain kind of satisfaction in creating something delicious by putting in some hard work. Gardening is great for a few reasons – in most cases (unless you are growing indoors) it gets you outside and moving around a bit, but doesn’t have to be strenuous. There is also nothing quite as delicious as eating something that you grew yourself.
  8. Different arts and crafts. It can be hard to force yourself to relax right away after a busy day because your mind is still going. Some kind of crafting project (although puzzles also have the same power) helps your brain to have a slow comedown. I find that it continues to make me feel productive, but allows my brain the time to slowly switch from work productive to hobby productive.
  9. Baking. People who know me well probably wonder why this one is last on the list. Baking to me has always felt relaxing. It is very similar to crafts or gardening to me in the sense that it allows me to have an outlet for some of that extra energy that I might have. The difference is that for me, baking really helps me with the nervous energy that I might have. Rather than helping with the come down from a busy day it actually helps me output some stress. For example, at the beginning of the lockdown, I baked 5 different types of blueberry baked goods, packaged them, and dropped them off with people using “contactless” practices. It allowed me to release some of that pent-up nervous energy that we all had at the beginning of lockdown.

It’s so important to prioritize finding the thing that helps you relax and gives you that happiness boost. There are always going to be stressors on both macro and micro levels, and burnout is very real. We all handle stress in different ways, but any way you cut it, it takes a toll on your body internally and externally and we have to find a way to mitigate that. Self-care is a great place to start.

Ways to Practice Self-Care

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