Helpers need help too sometimes…

I’m sure some of you have heard the term “burn out” before. This can often happen when people give so much of themselves to others that they forget about themselves. Especially those in the helping field, or even if you’re a parent or however this relates to you, the main point that I’m trying to make is that we need to take care of ourselves too.

An example from my life is that as a social worker I am noticing that there is not much support for the workers themselves that are suppose to be strong for others. I’m sure that goes for anyone in the helping field whether it’s medical or mental health or where you’re serving the needs of others.

I remember in grad school we were taught about the importance of self-care & working on ourselves first before we could help others. It was interesting because professors had us do our own inner work & it was therapeutic for us. In class I remember presenting one day meditation techniques as an example of what I could practice with clients & also expressed my own hardships & struggles in life. The reason for us entering the field in the first place….& we all had a story.

What was a rude awakening for me was how in school they emphasized the need for self-care yet when I entered the field & workforce, it’s rarely encouraged & close to non-existent. At least that has been my personal experience so far. Although, I am not the only one with this observation. I LOVE what I do don’t get me wrong & even with feeling unappreciated sometimes whether by clients (which I don’t take personally as much) but more so with upper management, I still feel it is worth it. Still, I believe we’d have more success rates & a decrease in burn out if there was more support & incentives offered. The demands are high & as the famous quote I kept hearing before going into social work was, “overworked & underpaid,” was very discouraging. I remember family members questioning my motives & were genuinely concerned whether this was the right choice for me because they knew what it entailed.

There have been plenty of times where I wanted to rip my hair out or even contemplated a career change…but the truth is I wouldn’t give it up for the world. Of course I do believe in self-respect & after paying your dues as we all do, to demand higher standards & to move up in the field. Because the truth is, the better we are ourselves the more we can help & inspire others to do so in THEIR lives. The more resources we have & more balance within our own selves, we have more to offer.We have to & must lead by example. That is the strongest & most effective motivating factor anyway.

It’s okay to still be a “working progress”, while helping others too. I used to feel guilty or self conscious thinking, “But I myself am not where I want to be or am still young in the field, what can people learn from me?” & I can reassure you that your vulnerability can be your strength. I work with children 5+, adults & elders with a variety amount of physical & mental challenges & they all still gain something. Don’t underestimate your power & potential to help someone, just don’t forget about yourself either! & believe me I struggle with this myself because lately I have been forgetting to attend to me too. & I still advocate & think workers in the helping field need to be recognized more & supported. But in the meantime, we can at least on our off time practice self-care. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup 😉

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