I know what you’re thinking. You’re kidding right? I don’t have any free time! I used to say the same exact thing. However, I’ve learned very quickly that scheduling “me” time is actually something you have to make a point to put on your To-do list regularly. Sounds funny, I know, but it needs to be done frequently and repeated often in order to be successful in our profession.
It’s a foreign concept for many of us, and quite frankly in the heap of papers, exams, projects, and presentations it is probably the last thing on your mind. But in fact, it is the most important. In social work, it is essential that just as we give ourselves to our clients that we are filling ourselves back up equally with whatever it is we need to function. The train can only run on the track with the proper fuel and it is so vital for social workers (even MSW students) to realize this fuel can run out if not properly attended to.
As this semester ends and winter break officially begins, take time for yourself and jot down different leisurely activities that work for you. These activities should refresh and restore your inner YOU. It can be something as simple as taking a long hot shower, or reading a fictional book, or even planning a trip for an upcoming spring month. These activities are not meant to be stressful to plan, but rather an exciting time of relaxation that allows you the appropriate self-care needed to be an awesome social worker.
I recently just came back from Denver, Colorado where I visited a friend who is also working on her MSW. Although I was only there for 4 days, this time of “getaway” allowed me to get outside of my own little grad school bubble and experience new culture for a period of time. For once, it wasn’t about APA formatting, or research assistantships, or job applications. It was simply about experiencing life. This time of leisure allowed me a fresh perspective towards my own studies, and the energy break I needed to reboot around the people I love.
I always thought this idea of traveling during the Advanced Standing program would be near impossible, however, if you plan accordingly and manage your time right, I actually find it to be quite imperative. Academics are extremely important, I cannot stress that enough, however there is more to this degree than just paper writing. It’s experiencing. And I don’t mean “experience” as in having an extensive resume, I mean experience as in taking time to FEEL and really observe and encounter life around you. This component has contributed to my degree because I could then apply these outside experiences to my learning. Learning not only of my studies, but of myself and who Regina is.
As I took time to step back this week during my “me time” I realized: “I am so busy planning for the next season of life that I am missing THIS one”. So with that I say to you—take my advice. It’s time to really experience. Don’t be too busy to the point where you are just going through the motions. Take advantage of your “me time” this break.
In May I will graduate with a diploma in my hand that says I am “finished”, however this experiential learning will never graduate. We are life long learners as social workers. Not just in the classroom, but in our experiences. And it all starts with scheduling me time. Take the plunge today…challenge yourself to some well-deserved me time. Ciao!