The Practice of Self-Care

In Mental Health & Addictions - Alana, Student Blog by Alana LathamLeave a Comment

The past two months have been both exciting and busy. We are now starting our fifth class of the Community Mental Health and Addictions (CMHAW) program and the days seem to be flying by.

Having not been in full-time school for almost a decade I was quite nervous beginning this program. After I was able to balance the full-time schedule of school as well as work I realized that those nervous feelings were a natural part of taking the step to further my education. The CMHAW program is an amazing fit and I couldn’t be in a better place for myself. Balancing my schedule has taken some practice and will be an ongoing process of learning and adapting. The material we are learning has had such a positive effect on this process.

The job of a Mental Health and Addictions Worker is one that is extremely fulfilling and meaningful. With that, working in this field can also take a toll on a person’s well being. There are many skills and strategies to apply, both to build our own inner strength and to model hope for others.

In order to set a good example one must reflect on and ensure that their own internal needs are met before teaching others.

As we go through the first months of our program there have been many lessons on self-care and how to recognize what we need as individuals to be successful both at work and at home. There was a time in my life that if someone asked me if I practiced self-care I may have disregarded the importance and gone on with my day. I may have regarded self-care as another task or something to have on my ‘to-do’ list. Now, preparing to enter a field that utilizes empathy and compassion in order to connect, assist, and guide people on their path, I can see the importance of self-care. I am learning that self-care is not only important but key in being able to work in the field long term. It can be as basic as getting enough sleep and enough to eat. It can also incredibly enjoyable, and I have been discovering what activities truly bring me joy and happiness. I have tried different things over the past weeks to see what strategies work best for me. I have gone to yoga classes, practised clearing my schedule, and was even able to go to a small concert and enjoy a night of laughter and fun with a good friend!

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What I am finding to be the most useful is research. Talking to others who work in the field and finding out what they do when it comes to taking time for themselves or managing their schedules has been extremely useful. One of the common factors that I have found with those who I have spoken to is humour. Co-workers have each shared stories with me of how necessary laughter is to combat some of the hardships and feelings they encounter at work. When watching a funny movie or spending time with children, laughter connects people together and lightens the work. When we take care of ourselves, ensure our needs are met, and take time for breaks, we are better able to show up and be available to others in both our work and home lives.

With that; enjoy the snow and winter weather, take time for yourself and have a Happy Holidays!

About the Author
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Alana Latham

Alana Latham is a student in Stenberg's CMHAW program. The recipient of the inaugural Karen O'Shannacery scholarship, Alana volunteers at a residential substance abuse treatment centre and co-founded a women's support group.

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