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Community & Behavioral Health | Recovery | Social Change


Changing the Conversation

Dealing with Frustration & Heartbreak while Supporting Clients

This is a poem I come back to over and over again. I found it years ago, and every time I look at it, it seems to resonate in new ways.

After some days of supporting clients, it’s the “immense responsibility and very little authority” that catches me. After other days, it’s about “resounding triumphs and devastating failures.” And still other days, it’s about “always be[ing] frustrated.”

My frustration is sometimes directed at the systems. Why are they so complicated? Why do they set people up to fail? Why don’t they support people the way they should?

Sometimes, quite honestly, my frustration is directed at the people with whom I am working. Why did she go back to her abusive partner? Why did he spend his $10,000 settlement in a month? Why did he pay his phone bill, but not his rent? Why did she use again?

Five Tips for Self-Care

Self-care…I heard a lot about how I should practice self-care while getting my degree in social work, but not much about what it should look like and how to do it. Coming to social work from bodywork (I am a licensed massage therapist), I was very aware of the critical importance of self-care and how to incorporate it into my schedule.

Based on prior experience and conversations with colleagues, here are my top 5 tips for self-care:
  1. Plan and schedule it!

We plan for everything: meetings at work, dinners with friends, doctor appointments…you name it, and it probably has a space on your calendar. Your self-care practice should not be any different. My social work friends and I try for “Self-Care Sunday” every other week. We all have different work experiences, but our daily routine can start to wear us down. These self-care get-togethers give us something to look forward to during stressful times and help reboot our thinking so we stay positive and mentally healthy.