Core Values for Social Work Self-Care

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”Mahatma Gandhi

Social workers are committed to helping others.   It is in our professional DNA. One of the primary values of our Code of Ethics is service. We serve our clients, our co-workers and our families. The difficulty comes when we are so busy taking care of others that we fail to take care of ourselves. As a result, we become frustrated with our clients, burned-out on our jobs, and unsatisfied with our lives.

As social workers, we need to take care of ourselves while we taking care of others.  This can be done by knowing and living our core values.

What are core values?

Core values are principles that define who we are and what is important to us. Core values help us interact with the world from our values not the ones we learn from society.

How do I find my core values?

There are many sites that can help you identify your core values. Scott Jeffrey has an excellent 7-point step to identifying your core values on his blog at:

I know my core values, now what?

Now that you have identified your core values, you want to understand how they will serve as the foundation for your self-care practices.

Core values are important in helping you create a self-care lifestyle for three reasons. – First, they will help you value your time as you will choose tasks that align with your personal core values.  One core value I have embraced is my faith. Spirituality is an important part of my life and helps me cope with difficult situations. Taking time to step away from the busyness of life, and being thankful for my blessing have taught me that it is O.K. to say “no” to things that will take you away from being grounded in my faith.

Next, core values will help you spend more time in enjoying the important things in life. One of my core values is fun. Now that this is a priority in my life, I am making a conscious effort to have more fun in my life. I have fun in life by being creative (I am learning to sew) and spending quality time with family and friends.  I am learning to let go of people and activities that sap my energy and my ability to have fun in my life.

Finally, core values will help you reach your destiny. Being clear about your core values will help you achieve your purpose in life and set your destiny into motion. I recently realized that at the point in my life that I value financial freedom. Now I have embraced this value, I am in the process of transforming my career to make this a reality.

So many social workers are professional and personal caregivers. But, by learning and living by our core values we will have time to value our time, focus on what is important to us and reach our destiny. As we advocate for our clients we must learn to advocate for ourselves and lay the ground work for good self-care practices. It starts with developing and living our lives by our core values.

Let the journey begin!

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