Chloe Walker – firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally posted April 28, 2010
In a helping profession such as social work, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. Making sure that we are healthy in our mind, body, and spirit is a prerequisite to being able to help others. Fortunately, the Foundation Semester at the GCSW emphasizes the importance of self-care by requiring all MSW students to create a self-care plan. I was excited about creating my self-care plan last fall because balancing my school and personal life has always been important to me and I generally try my best to have fun, even when I am in school! This year of graduate school, however, brought some unexpected challenges to practicing self-care. Having already completed my first year of law school when I started at the GCSW, I underestimated the rigor of the coursework and field education here. Finding time to salsa dance, run, and spend time with my family and friends became a challenge when I was attending five social work classes in addition to spending 20 hours a week at my first field placement at Child Protective Services. I had a great plan, but executing self-care almost became another assignment that caused me stress, rather than relieving my stress.
This past semester I decided to run my first half marathon. Training for the half-thon (I learned new lingo as well!) was a way to give my mind a break from graduate school, but also gave me a structured exercise plan with an end goal. Training was not easy! I had never run more than six miles in life, so pushing myself to run 8, 9 and 10 mile runs on the weekends after a long week at school and CPS was a struggle. I enlisted a couple of training partners to help me make it on those weekend runs and it always felt great (but tiring) afterward. I definitely had some setbacks during my training; some days I would have to stop in the middle of a run because my body just wouldn’t cooperate with me that day. Rather than becoming frustrated with myself, I eventually learned to embrace the moments when a long run went sour by enjoying the day and going for a nice walk. Crossing the finish line of my first half-thon was an amazing experience. Fueled by adrenaline, I actually enjoyed every moment (except probably that last 1/2 mile) of running the race despite cold, wet weather and unexpected rolling hills. Moments like that give me the energy I need to be the best social worker I can be. Knowing that I can do something like train for a half-marathon is very empowering and I think speaks to the power of self-care. To top it all off, the GCSW offers an entire elective course on Self-Care taught by Professor Sandra Lopez!