By Janella Parucha, W.O.M.A.N., Inc. Volunteer
Many of us who have obligations and responsibilities at home or at work (or both) forget to take care of ourselves. With so much happening in our lives it’s hard to prioritize taking time to have fun or relax. Simply taking a bath or going out with friends can really help in balancing and energizing a really stressful day. Let’s face it, when we take care of ourselves, we are better physically, emotionally, which in turn helps us do much better at work and at home.
At W.O.M.A.N., Inc. we have wonderful hardworking staff and volunteers who balance a demanding work schedule with self-care. I asked a few lovely members of W.O.M.A.N., Inc. to talk about why self-care is important and to help us come up with 10 ways to practice self-care. Here is what they had to say:
Why is self-care important, especially in the work you do?
“As an Outreach Co-Coordinator and Children’s Group Volunteer, I have plenty of opportunities to interact with survivors, or friends and family of survivors. Self care is important in being able to help those impacted by domestic violence, because in order to best help others, we must first help ourselves to ensure that we are fit to do so.”
“The work we do is difficult and can be triggering. It’s essential that those of us in social work find a balance that is healthy, or else it’s really easy to become burned out.”
“Without self care, I would not be able to do my job properly. In the domestic violence field, it can be easy to fall prey to vicarious trauma and self care is a way to combat that.”
“Regardless of whether we are “on the front line” and answering calls from survivors or helping to plan an event out in the community, everyone who participates in this work is at risk of vicarious or secondary trauma. The work we do is about reducing and responding to violence in our relationships and in our communities. It’s personal and it comes with a real obligation to care for each other and ourselves. When a person hears stories about surviving violence, they may experience the same symptoms of trauma as the survivor. Thankfully, the staff here provides training on this and we have also worked as a team to institutionalize practices to combat vicarious trauma. Lastly, strong self care practices are crucial in anti-violence advocates doing this work for the long haul.”
10 tips for practicing self-care:
1. Think of things that make you happy and do them!!
Mary enjoys going to drag shows and tries to go to one per week. Lily likes to hunt for vintage finds.
2. Schedule time for yourself and commit to it!!!
Tania sets aside certain times in the week and makes sure nothing else interferes with those times
3. If a little strapped for cash, do things that can easily be done at home.
Jaymie likes to take her dog out for a long walk and lighting aromatherapy candles while listening to music.
4. Find a activity/hobby that you like to do that is completely unrelated to your work
Tania likes to read, watch a movie, and hangout with friends
Lily says laughter is a huge source of relief for her, she like to act silly at work (when appropriate) and in her personal life.
6. Have healthy boundaries, do not bring work home with you
Mary loves what she does but believes it is really important to separate her job from her personal life. She tries to view work as a light switch, and switches it off as she leaves for the day.
7. Find other hard working people and practice the benefits of self-care together, i.e. night out with the friends or coworkers
8. Therapy, reflection, journaling
It’s important to get in touch with yourself on a deeper level and understand what your feeling.
Jaymie likes to go out for long walks or jogs and go to the gym.
10. Relax!! Get a massage or sleep!
Getting a good 8 hours of sleep is one of the best ways to feel rejuvenated