A self-care plan to revive a weary spirit

RACHEL DOHERTY

Social worker, teacher and the founder of Tweens2teen

If you’re a youth worker or school chaplain and feel overwhelmed, it’s time to have a look at your self-care plan. Or if you don’t have one, it’s time to put a plan together.

Let’s face it, we only get one shot at this life. If your job is to make other people’s lives better, it’s important not to wear yourself out in the process.

“Be you. Love you. All ways, always.”

ALEXANDRA ELLE

When you work in the helping professions or serve in ministry, most relationships are one way. You give to others without receiving that care back. If you have a stressful job, either with a big workload or some challenging crises, your well of energy can drain faster than a leaky bucket.

If you don’t listen to your body, you’ll run that bucket dry. I’ve written another article about burnout, but here are six self-care tips to keep your practice fresh:

1. Reflect on how you’ve done things

Check your programs and services fit with your purpose and meet specific needs. Read this article for a reflection process that can help you with this.

2. Make time to learn new skills and knowledge

It could be as easy as joining my monthly webinars. You might enrol in a course or sign up for some professional development instead. Don’t see training as a one-off, make it a regular habit.

3. Try something new

Don’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again. Have a look at my article on planning principles you can use to take your youth work to the next level.

4. Keep your life in balance

Work-life balance isn’t something you can have without sacrificing the quality of your life or the comforts of it. Check out my article about 6 steps you can take to improve your work-life balance.

5. Unpack your practice on a regular basis

Book yourself in for professional supervision at least every term. It will help you debrief the tough stuff and keep a clear picture of where you’re going. To learn more, read my articles explaining what supervision is and what to look for.

6. Take regular breaks

In this article, I want to unpack this last one. Let’s look closer at how to develop a self-care plan for when you’re heading off on a break.

“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn

Creating a workable self-care plan

Whether you have a few days to revive, or a few weeks, the principles stay the same. This means you have to give yourself permission to set aside time for four stages if you want to be at your best when you go back to work.

The four stages you need to include in a self-care plan are:

1. Rest

Be lazy. Give yourself permission to sleep in, go to bed early and have a nap during the day. Do them all!

Our bodies need to stop now and then and do nothing, so ignore any guilt that might be telling you to do different. If you have kids or other responsibilities, do it in short batches when you have help.

2. Recover

Do things you haven’t had time to do lately. It might feel insignificant like cleaning up your house or working in the yard. It might be catching up with a couple of friends over coffee.

It’s what gives your life meaning and a sense of peace and connection.

3. Rejig

Once you have some more perspective, work out what you could change going forward. How could you keep your newfound sense of balance and control? Are there some things you need to say no to? Others you might have to work on bowing out of?

Identify a couple of tweaks that could make life more livable.

4. Refresh

Finish up your break by doing some things just for fun. Fill up that bucket of joy so that you head back to work with a smile on your face and a skip in your step.

All these stages need an equal share. You can’t skip one. If you’re wanting to have an enduring presence in youth work, you need to make self-care as much a part of life as having breakfast or exercise.

Have you got a self-care plan that works for you? If you’re needing help to work out one, then send me a message and get in touch.

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