6 Self Care Strategies For Social Workers

6 Self Care Strategies for Social Workers













Being a Social Worker is hard work! That’s why self-care strategies for Social Workers are of the utmost importance. Your role entails planning, behavioral management, creating program curriculum and group work, case notes as well as keeping up with CEU’s and professional development. And then you get asked to sit in on the case consultation meeting. Add in family, leisure, just trying to have a life, let alone a soft life. You can look up and suddenly you’ve filled up an entire 24 hours of the day and still have more to do. And we’ve not even factored in the fact that you haven’t slept yet. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how much you try to cram into your days, because you already know. 

Listen, I get it…this is a demanding profession. The good news is there are tools, resources and routines that you can create in your life, that makes things a WHOLE lot more manageable. When I was working in the field, I was able to take advantage of platforms like Course Hero to cut hours off of my time. I also became very intentional about using self care strategies when I worked as a School Social Worker. The school where I worked was really good at supporting their staff. We all got access to Advancement Courses where I was able to learn really good self-care strategies.

I remember this helping me feel so much better. It also gave me the opportunity to build really good connections with the school based staff. If you are a School Social Worker and would like to try out their courses, you can click the link to get $75 off a 3 credit course!

If you’re not a School Social Worker, I wanted to share a few strategies that I have added to my self care routine along the way. Self-care strategies for Social Workers don’t always mean candles and bubble baths. It can be all the ways that you honor commitments to yourself, make guilt free decisions and choose to bet on yourself.  

I know that most of you became Social Workers because deep down you want to make the world a better place. You’re also extremely dedicated and you probably want to do all of the things. But the reality is, you just can’t. Say it with me – you just can’t do everything. It’s impossible (and that’s ok). The most difficult pill to swallow is that, you can for sure find your MAIN THING. But you won’t be able to do ANYTHING, in a sustainable way, if we don’t start practicing some type of self-care. As a Social Worker, although unintentionally, you carry the burden of other people’s struggles within your body. Because at your core, you are a fixer. You are a helper through and through. So the importance of self care for helping professionals of all types cannot be stressed enough.


You may be asking, “What is self-care?” Because now it seems as if everyone has their own definition. The generally accepted self-care definition is anything that you do purposefully to take care of your own physical, mental, spiritual. and/or emotional well-being. Think about what keeps you healthy? What makes you feel good? Where do you find your joy? The answers to those questions are your personal self-care activities.


Let’s start with a self-care assessment. This might be a good time to start a self-care journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can use one of these guided emotional self care journals I found on Amazon. 












Or you can use these blank Self Care Journals. With these, you can take self-care notes to think about the questions I asked you above.










Do you have specific things you do to stay healthy? It doesn’t have to be something huge, like a two-hour daily workout (though that might work for some of you). When I worked in the pre-school setting as a Family Support Specialist, I  had a ritual that I believe helped to keep away potential illnesses – every day before I left, I would quickly wipe down my desk and common play areas with antibacterial wipes. It took only a few minutes, but I believe it kept me much healthier than I would otherwise have been.

What do you do to make yourself feel good? I know you spend your days making others feel better and helping them solve problems in their lives. But what about you? When was the last time you did something just because it made you feel good? It’s not selfish to do things that make you feel good. You spend your whole day focusing on the concerns of others. You must remember to take care of yourself, too. I like to take a few minutes every day to read a chapter from a book and listen to a few of my favorite YouTube channels to keep my spiritual center.

Lastly, where do you find your joy? What makes you feel that deep down satisfaction, that true success? Do you have goals to help you reach that success? And have you made intentional time to work towards those goals? I have written before about creating a vision board so that your goals are right in front of you. Seeing them inspires you to work towards them. One self-care idea for you might be to create your own vision board.


Self-care strategies to manage stress as a Social Worker.

Sometimes I swear that the rolling cart industry is financially supported by Social Workers. We fill up those large square rolling carts with papers and files, books and supplies intending to get all of the things done that we need to do when we get home. We haul it to the car and then the house, where our lives interfere, and that cart stares at us from the corner all night, creating an insane amount of Social Work guilt. Please stop doing this to yourself. The world will not crumble if you didn’t get the wording for your ISP JUST perfect. I promise. Leave work at work.


Self-care strategies for Social Workers, Therapists and Helping Professionals

Even if it’s only for a few minutes every day, take the time to go outdoors. There is something wonderfully peaceful about standing in the open and breathing fresh air. The body craves sunlight – make sure it gets some every day (but remember to wear sunscreen, please).


Self care strategies to prevent burnout in the profession and beyond.

Did you know that dehydration is a huge contributor to feeling tired most of the day? Though the numbers vary from person to person, health care experts generally recommend that you drink 64 ounces of water per day. That’s a half-gallon every day for optimum hydration. This can be tricky for Social Workers, as we sometimes work in the field many days, transporting clients, attending multi-disciplinary team meetings, or like me, sitting in hour long, back to back, therapy sessions with clients. Try substituting in water for that afternoon cup of coffee. Once your body is properly hydrated, you might even find that you no longer need the caffeine boost.


Taking time for yourself without guilt, should be part of self care strategies in the workplace.

Though Social Workers tend to be social people, we still need some time to ourselves, too. Make sure that you spend that time doing something that makes you feel good or brings you joy. It doesn’t have to be a large chunk of time, though that would be great. Five minutes peppered throughout your day can have just as many benefits as an hour of time blocked off. And you might find that it is much easier to fit smaller blocks of time into your schedule. During this time you can choose to meditate; go for a walk, stretch or do mindful breathing or to take a nap! Do what works for you, but please take the time to do it daily, and do it guilt free. This means, do beat yourself up, or make yourself feel bad for talking your break. Begin to see this as an imperative part of your professional development. 


One of my favorite tips for self care is to find what makes you feel special and pamper yourself.

One of the hardest self-help skills for Social Workers seems to be pampering ourselves. We give and give and give  and then give some more. The thought of “wasting time” or money on ourselves seems almost unheard of. However, you must take care of yourself. Pampering yourself can actually payout many times over because when you feel good, you are more able to make others feel good. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression of not pouring from an empty cup. You will find that you have more energy to give to others when you give to yourself first. 


Why is self care important? Understanding your own internal systems is the key to a happy healthy mind.

Mindfulness just means focusing your mind on what is happening in the present. There are many paths to mindfulness, meditation being one of the most popular. There are numerous types of meditation, many of which take no longer than a few moments to practice. Mindfulness for Social Workers is especially important. In a session with a client or completing a service plan or a diagnostic assessment requires being focused on the present, instead of worrying about the notes you haven’t done or how long the team meeting will be. Practicing mindfulness allows you to put your full attention on your clients. Your clients will definitely notice when they have your attention and when they don’t and this connection can have a huge impact on the progress of their work with you.


I know you’ve heard this one a million times, but are you listening? It’s important. A healthy body is necessary to function in life. You don’t have to love working out to get the exercise your body needs. You don’t have to go to the gym or pay for an expensive membership to prove that you are prioritizing your health. Take a walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from the door. Run around with your school aged clients or try walk-and-talk therapy as a different approach.  Do what you need to do to keep your body moving as long as you are getting up and not sitting at your cubicle or desk all day. 


I love to get my self care affirmations from audiobooks. Podcasts and YouTube videos are also a great wealth of information.

I have learned so much in the past few years by listening to podcasts and YouTube videos. Even if I can’t watch the video, I still enjoy listening to it when I’m working or on the go. What you hear could literally change your life. If you’ve not tuned in you can have your first listen to my podcast for Social Workers, Therapists and Helping Professionals.  You can check back here weekly for episodes that inspire you to map our your Social Work Success Path. 


Self care versus self-indulgence is necessary to protect your own mental health.

You know how when someone smiles at you, your first instinct is to smile back? Unfortunately, the opposite can hold true as well. Toxic colleagues spread that negativity. Every level of practice has them, micro, mezzo and macro –  the Social Workers who spend all of their time  talking about the problems, about leadership the NASW Board, about their supervisors, or about other Social Workers. These people can suck the joy right out of you. Practice positive self-care strategies and stay away. As Social Workers, it is our role to identify problems within systems and society. But the major part of role is to be problem SOLVERS. If you notice that your colleagues are more inclined to complain about the problems without offering a thorough, well thought out solution, then this is a red flag. Also, do you notice they they are all talk, and are not willing to help take action? Make sure you don’t get caught in that trap.


I honestly believe it costs you nothing to be kind, but you will reap riches in return. Smile at your clients as they engage with you. Wish them a good morning, compliment them where appropriate, thank them for attending a group or session and for their work when your meeting is over. As a therapist, when I know I have done heavy work with a client, I frequently tell them…”you did good work today. I know this can be a lot.” Soften your voice when you are talking about difficult topics. Try to listen more than you speak on most days. None of these suggestions will increase your workload; you might even find that they lighten that load. When you are kind to others, it inspires them to be kind to you and to those around them. 


Too often we are our own worst critics. We say things to ourselves that we would never consider saying to another person. That stops now. You are intelligent. You do deserve good things. You are capable. And you are not your mistakes or the mistakes made by others. Your failures or your faults do not define you. You are enough. Make these your mantra and say it until you believe it. You deserve that. And if you can’t believe in yourself, lean into someone else’s belief about you until you get there. 


Searching for a deeper self-care strategy

Remember those resources that I mentioned, that can make things a WHOLE lot more manageable in your life? Still wondering how to implement self-care skills into your routine? I’ve created this self-care skills checklist which you can download here. Know that self-care comes in many forms. For many, it is found in bubble baths and sweet-smelling candles. For others, it’s about getting outside for some exercise in nature-filled spaces. But what if your self-care looks like engaging in more professional self care? Where you are challenging traditional ideas about your Social Work career and allowing your inner creative to shine? What if it looks like stepping outside of your fear and investing in your own future, quieting the noise of other peoples opinion around your career choice?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea the connection that teaching what I know and selling my Social Work resources online would mean for my own personal self care journey. And when I first started doing it, I had no idea it would even work for me and I thought that it just might turn out to be a huge waste of my time. But what I learned, was that there is an entire world of being a Social Work Content creator that allowed me to hone in on the art of creating my Social Work resources and selling them online. Over the last 4 years, I’ve tried and tested as many hacks and tricks as possible and finally found the perfect equation. Cracking this code, unlocked my ability to prioritize every aspect of my self-care on my own time.

And now, I’ve created a program that teaches Social Workers exactly how to sell your own Social Work resources and become a Social Work Content Creator in your own right. I’m ready to be your mentor while we practice self-care together, knowing that we ARE worthy of making more income while making an impact. We no longer have to choose. To help get started teaching what you know and selling your Social Work resources online, you can get started with my free workbook right here.

Consider this your first investment, in taking care of you.

Related Article:

Read more about Social Workers: 4 extremely important self-care activities for Social Workers

Meet Manicka

I created The Social Work Success Path blog and podcast, during the pandemic of 2021 to provide online education and mentorship for Social Workers. I felt very isolated and disconnected being only in the second year of running my private practice. I strongly considered going back to work when everything shut down. The resources and tools that I share helped me to maintain my practice through the pandemic and plan a successful transition as a Social Work content creator, doing work that I love and connecting with Social Workers all around the world. I did this in the span of 1 year, but using the resources, trainings and tools that I have pulled together, and all my all lessons learned, you can make your career transition much sooner than I did!

Follow Along

Leave a Comment