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High-Mileage Questions for Social Worker Self-Care

Woman Runner

by Ellen M. Craine, JD, LMSW, ACSW, INHC

Written for The New Social Worker Magazine

As an LMSW who is also trained as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, I work with social workers and other professionals who want to be healthier both personally and professionally. What is certain for all of us is that self-care, which may include self-healing, is important to a person’s well-being, success, and maybe even survival, both in personal life and work. My work is premised on the belief that we all have the power to be healthier, and our bodies and minds know what they need through the help of being asked high mileage questions. In addition, my work is based on the premise that there is no one thing, or group of things, that will work for everyone. Instead, the answers are unique to who we are and what we bring to the table of self-care.

The concept of self-care reminds me of the directions the airline flight attendants give you as the plane is taxiing to take off. They tell you that if the oxygen mask falls, be sure to give yourself the oxygen before you help someone else. This idea that we have to take care of ourselves adequately before we can effectively care for others fits so beautifully with the topic of self-care.

A few high mileage questions I ask myself are:

  • Did I get a good night's sleep, and do I feel rested?

  • What was my water intake like yesterday? How can I improve that today?

  • What was my nutrition intake like yesterday? How can I improve that today?

  • What was my exercise like yesterday? How can I improve that today?

  • What is the quality of my relationships with others like (personally and professionally)? What role do I have in this quality?

  • What do I need to work on professionally?

I try to ask these questions, and others, daily. I start with a morning journaling session that begins upon waking. The notebook sits next to my bed, as does a bottle of water. I ask the questions that come to me and journal the questions and the answers that flow from me. I then set my intention for the day and pick one to three things to work on. Sometimes I get stuck - after all, I am only human. I have people I can turn to for coaching, support, and guidance.

My ultimate goal is to feel as well-balanced and focused each day as I can. I know I need to include yoga, walking, healthy eating, good hydration, adequate rest, and quality time with my children and our dog to feel my best. Only then can I put my best self forward in all areas of my life.

What do you need to be your best? Start by asking yourself this question and examining all the areas of your life to see how in balance you really are, or are not. If you need guidance or support, seek out a health coach, who can ask you the high-mileage questions and help you develop a self-healing path that is right for you.

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