Social work is a rewarding career but at times it can be quite challenging. I have heard of people in the field experiencing burnout or even “compassion fatigue”. In the past I began to worry I might be fitting into that category. In order to safeguard myself against burnout I began looking into ways to increase my overall well-being and satisfaction in my career. What I found was Mindfulness and it has been such an amazing gift to my life and social work practice.
My journey with Mindfulness began when I started hearing about the benefits of meditation. I researched the topic and stumbled upon Mindfulness which is defined as the “practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”. I ordered books on the topic and downloaded meditations. It didn’t take long until Mindfulness became a part of my life.
I feel that most people spend a lot of time thinking about the past or future which takes them away from experiencing that “moment-to-moment” awareness that Mindfulness teaches. I didn’t realize how much of life I was missing until I started practicing Mindfulness. My fast pace had become so routine; I often didn’t take time to slow down and enjoy life. Here I was practicing clinical social work with the goal of increasing my clients coping skills and overall well-being, but I hadn’t taken the steps to do that in my own life.
I now make time each morning to practice meditation and center myself for the day ahead. As I go through my day, I pause when agitated and take a break when my body asks for it. I am better able to stay present for my clients and handle high stress situations when they occur. When I find myself going into “autopilot”, I bring myself back to the present moment. I am also able to teach my clients Mindfulness which helps with many symptoms of mental illness. I share my experience with the hopes that others will look into Mindfulness and begin using it.