The agency for which I work in Tucson is a non-profit and therefore often has to manage services on a tight budget. Fortunately, the company has yet to skip on employee benefits. We have a quality health insurance plan, reimbursement for memberships to a gym, and more than three weeks of vacation the first year on the job. They are also extremely understanding of mental break downs; I know I am not the only staff who has had to take a leave of absence for mental health reasons.
The agency provides these benefits because they recognize the importance of self care and self love in a career field where vicarious trauma is a regular occurrence. They know we are stressed, they know we work hard, and they are well aware of the fact that the average employee lasts only two years or less before leaving for a position with more sanity.
Without the opportunity for self care, the stress and burnout would be much worse. Cases of staff becoming ineffective and uncaring would be much more common, and our clients would suffer for it.
My agency provides an example of taking care of oneself in order to serve others. What I want to get across with all of these blog entries about self love is that this idea is not limited to the field of social work. Self care is vital for all humans beings in all walks of life. Want to be a better mother? Take care of yourself! Want to be a faster runner? Be good to yourself! Want to excel as a student? Treat your body with respect!
Each of us were created to do amazing things with our lives and to influence the people around us. If we forget about self care we are hurting not only ourselves, but the world around us that seeks to benefit from our existence.