5 Self-care Tips For Social Workers to Prevent Burnout

Social Workers

Social workers play a constructive role in society by helping the most vulnerable part of our population. It is a means of earning a livelihood and a fulfilling journey to emotional gratification. However, like any other occupation, it comes with its fair share of challenges.

Although job burnout is rampant in every occupational field, social workers are more susceptible to it as their work frequently exposes them to social injustices, trauma, poverty, and inequity. Sometimes the resources might not be enough to meet the demands of people in dire need.

With all these factors combined, social work can lead to severe burnout, which includes physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. To counter it, you can practice self-care, which will be an antidote to your chronic work stress. If you feel like this social work is taking a toll on you, here are some self-care tips you should consider.

  1. Step Back and Evaluate Your Options

You can take up many roles as a social worker, from being a therapist to serving in different professional leadership capacities, etc. However, your set of skills should match your job description. If you do not feel content with what you are doing, step back to evaluate your options, and many pathways will be available for you to take up.

To open and explore new avenues of opportunities, you can also consider upgrading your degree, such as pursuing a Master of Social Work. Instead of returning to full-time studentship, you can explore online MSW programs to unlock your capabilities, hone your skills, and ultimately make the right choice for your career.

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Once you upgrade your skills and land in the right place, you will love every moment of your work. With this psychological satisfaction, you will become more resilient to daily stress and ace your job, which is crucial for self-care.

  1. Practice Mindfulness

As a social worker, you work to lessen the impact of different tragedies that befall people of diverse backgrounds. Though a noble deed, its only downside is that you will have to deal with many problems daily that might affect you one way or the other. It might be your first time witnessing them, which can be potentially disturbing and unknowingly leave a mark on you.

Mindfulness is a way to slow down things to assess your reaction towards them. It will help examine your negative emotions and thought patterns that seem automatic in response to different situations. You can streamline them towards the brighter side by staying aware of the present moment, calm, and alert.  However, to reap the benefits of this stress-releasing activity, you should practice it daily. However, it is not something you do in your free time.

It is your overall attitude throughout the day. Notice your feelings and sensations with every action, whether sitting, standing, or moving. Whatever comes and goes, be open-minded, and greet every emotion with compassion and wisdom without holding a judgemental eye towards them.

You can only then tap into the essence of mindfulness and learn to control the chronic stress that social work brings. Train your mind to live in the present, practice meditation, and you will feel things toning down.

  1. Connect With Your Support System

A support group is not only meant for emergencies or when you are going through a rough patch in life, but it should also be your everyday go-to place. A strong connection with your friends and family bolsters your mood and contributes to overall psychological well-being.

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Having a reliable person by your side decreases the perception of stress and dampens the intensity of emotional turmoils that burnout brings. Perhaps, a stressful situation might feel more like an adventure when you find a good friend in a colleague who is there to tag along. Likewise, a blow at a job might not feel so devastating if you have someone by your side to share the burden.

So connect with your social circle and do not shy away from taking help when the need arises. A supportive social group to lean on will mitigate the effects of your burnout, and the situation might not feel as grave as before.

  1. Avoid Overloading Yourself

Even after completing your formal education and extensive training to become a fully qualified social worker, you might be unprepared for the level of exhaustion and workload in practical life. The last thing you will want is your mental health to take a hit while struggling to help others.

While aiding the people in need, you might feel obligated to turn to everyone who asks for help. Though the act is empathetic, avoid doing it if it pushes your limits, as it can be physically draining and emotionally overwhelming. You might not as well be able to play your role efficiently if the burnout is taking a toll on you.

  1. Practice a Healthy Routine

Training your mind and body to carry out healthy lifestyle habits that center you is a crucial part of self-care. It will bring strength to your body, clarity to your thoughts, and resilience to your mind.

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As you get up in the morning, prepare your body for another hectic day. Slide out of your covers early in the morning and breathe away your exhaustion in the crisp morning air.

A daily workout will boost your energy levels, making you more efficient in running your office errands. Likewise, choose a healthy diet for your meals that will keep your energy levels up for the rest of the day. Practice meditation, take a good night’s sleep, and stay hydrated. Along with boosting your physical health, these practices will be handy in improving your emotional balance.


As a social worker, you can transform individual lives by acting as a bridge and connecting deserving people to the resources they need. You can stir even greater differences by creating a ripple effect throughout the community and, ultimately, a wave of inspiration throughout generations. However, for the betterment of the community, it is of utmost importance for you to function at your best.

So instead of tossing self-care aside, view it as a means to avoid compassion fatigue, burnout, and developing skills to tackle challenges that can otherwise take you down. While improving other lives, do not be oblivious to your calling of a change, and you will be able to bring better changes in your as well as other people’s lives.

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About the Author: John Watson

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