By Cindy Ruble, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel
Recently, thanks to a generous donor, I had the privilege of facilitating a Self-Care Retreat for 25 trauma social workers, staff,and volunteers. The pandemic brought many things with it, including an increase in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse as life moved more into homes and less into public spaces.
For trauma social workers, that resulted in an overload of cases while they were also dealing with the impact of COVID in their own lives. For any of you who are in a helping profession, you know that good self-care is essential to longevity. We spent three days and two nights focused on self-care, learning that self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care is an essential core competency for every trauma social worker, in fact, for every helping professional.
If you intend to work long-term in helping others (this includes ministers, teachers, nurses, as well as social workers,) you have to put on your own oxygen mask first! Every skill you learn in taking care of yourself, you can put to good use to help others take care of themselves. Trauma survivors need good self-care to heal. Social workers who practice good self-care can be invaluable in helping survivors of trauma find self-care practices which can facilitate their way forward, and ultimately, their healing.
What does self-care look like? I can’t tell you what it will look like for you as what is self-care for one can be drudgery for another. It might be time to cook, to paint, to dance, to sing, to meditate, to write, to pray, to walk on a beach, to climb a mountain, to blow bubbles, to have tea with a friend, to stretch, to go up a mountain, to join a book club (or start one), to laugh, to eat nutritious food, to get out in nature, to play a musical instrument, to learn something new, to practice gratitude. Just choose something and keep choosing until you find your way into practices that work for you. You’ll know when you try a practice that fits who you are and what you need because time will pass quickly and you’ll walk away feeling more refreshed.
At the end of our retreat, every participant practiced gratitude and wrote a note of thanks to our donor who made our time together possible. Each participant left the retreat with a small pack of three gratitude journals and a copy of the book The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals by Erlene Grise-Owens, Justin Miller, et al.
Practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven path to increased well-being. It is also a spiritual practice. Interestingly, in scripture, giving thanks is connected to peace, joy, overflow and blessing. Giving thanks is always a good place to start.
Ultimately, it is up to each of us to care for our own well-being. Jesus did when he pulled away from the shore or took the time to go up the mountain. He didn’t wait to do it until after everyone’s needs had been met. If he had, he would never have pulled away from the shore or gone up the mountain. Self-care has to be prioritized and intentional. Jesus modeled the way. Find yours.
Cindy and her husband, Eddy, serve as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel in Malaysia. Learn more about their ministry at cbf.net/ruble.
The Offering for Global Missions provides for the long-term presence of field personnel like Brooke and Mike. The theme for this year’s Offering is “A Place at the Table for Everyone.” In Luke 14, Jesus teaches us to invite those least expecting and, in society’s view, perhaps least deserving of invitation. CBF field personnel serving in countries around the world invite and are invited to the table as they cultivate beloved community, bear witness to Jesus Christ, and seek transformational development.
Learn more about the Offering for Global Missions and access free digital and print resources at www.cbf.net/ogm.