Practices for Well-Being: Supporting Social Workers

Supporting Social Workers

If you are a social worker or a social work student, now is the perfect time to assess your own ability to integrate practices for well-being into your personal and professional life.  All-things-COVID-19 dominated our lives and posed significant challenges for our clients and for us in 2020. As you step into the new year, explore the many ways you can initiate new self-care practices and foster improvement and growth in your own mental health.  I encourage my students and supervisees to give yourself the “end of the year” gift of reflection. Stop now and assess your capacity for taking care of yourselves in this last year. Determine how you might increase your well-being in the new year.  Be deliberate. Be intentional.  Set intentions (not necessarily goals!). Identify a word, phrase, or affirmation that you can carry with you into your daily life.  You will benefit. Your clients will benefit.

Identify What Works for You

Stop:  Make Time for Self-Reflection Now
The first thing to do is carve out time now for self-reflection.  Give yourself this gift now in order to set yourself up for success later.  Consider all of what worked well for you last year.  Consider those moments where you struggled.  What helped you keep a positive momentum and mindset?  What hindered your progress? These a just a few simple questions you might ask yourself first.  Maybe you will choose just a few questions for consideration or maybe you will consider many questions. There is no right or wrong way to do this as long as you give yourself the time to sit with your answers.  Maybe you will use these questions as a dialog framework for talking with a friend or partner.  Maybe you will use a journal to write out your responses. Your choice.

Be Deliberate/Be Prepared:  Tools for Clinical Social Work Supervision & Reflective Practice
Find simple, matte-finished lined journals made specifically to support social workers receiving clinical supervision: Journals For Social Workers Receiving Clinical Supervision

Self-Reflection: Some Questions to Consider
In her year-end email,
Kelly McGonigal, (a writer, researcher, lecturer, and psychologist from Stanford University: offered her readers a very simple, yet helpful list of 48 potential questions we can use for self-reflection as we enter 2021. I have included that list of reflection quesions at the end of this blog post.

Recently, I was interviewed about my work by Valeria Teles, author of the book, “Fit for Joy” and host of the podcast entitled, “Quest for Well-Being.”  This portion of the video animation is a summary of various practices for well-being, including mindfulness, meditation, and journaling.

Experiment & Explore Wellness Practices that Support Your Personal Growth & Professional Development

Activities to Consider

1. Daily Journaling – Try doing what Julia Cameron calls morning pages. Consider evening as a time for reflection and journaling. Try free-writing for 10 minutes at lunchtime. Get a journal that has pre-written prompts and let that guide your writing.

2. Mindfulness Practices –  Explore various mindfulness practices as described and guided by practitioners like Tara Brach, Pema Chodron, Sharon Salzberg, or Kristen Neff.  Each of these people has podcasts and offer guided mindfulness and meditations.  This is a helpful and accessible way to explore the world of mindfulness. and meditation.

3. Year-End Self-Reflection –  Use any or all of the questions for self-reflection as you end 2020 and step into the new year. Listend below are the 48 questions as shared by Kelly McGonigal.

A List of Reflection Questions offered by Kelly McGonigal:

  • What were the biggest losses, disappointments, and regrets of the past year?
  • What broke your heart this year?
  • Who or what do you miss?
  • What are you yearning for?
  • What mistakes, missteps, or setbacks do you want to learn from?
  • For the most important losses, what do you want to remember or honor?
  • What are you looking forward to in the coming year? What is a future memory you can imagine and cherish now?
  • What lessons do you want to take forward into the new year?
  • What actions are you committed to, to make the next year better for yourself or others?
  • What are you proud of, or grateful to yourself for, from the past year?
  • What were the best decisions you made?
  • What accomplishment or activity are you most proud of?
  • When you look at how you got through the past year, what personal strengths or choices can you acknowledge and celebrate?
  • What is the story you’ll be most proud to tell from this current year?
  • What photo or other memento from this year makes you smile? What photo or object tells a story about this year that you want to remember?
  • What changes, choices, or commitments do you want to carry forward into the next year?
  • What brought you joy, hope, or meaning this year?
  • What activities brought you joy, hope, or meaning this year?
  • What roles or relationships brought you joy, hope, or meaning this year?
  • What places or experiences brought you joy, hope, or meaning this year?
  • What communities or connections brought you joy, hope, or meaning this year?
  • What do you want to take away from this, as you imagine the coming year?
  • What do you want to give more of your energy and time to in this new year?
  • Where did you find comfort, support, or strength this year?
  • How did you take care of yourself?
  • What practices or routines were most helpful?
  • Who were you able to count on?
  • What communities did you rely on?
  • Who needed you this year, and how did you show up for them?
  • Who could you reach out to and thank, for how they supported you this year?
  • How could you pay forward any support you are grateful for?
  • What could self-care or supportive community look like for you in this new year? 
  • What is a step you want to take in this direction?
  • What do you hope for in this new year?
  • What do you want to experience?
  • How do you want to grow?
  • What do you want to learn, or explore?
  • What do you want to commit to?
  • How do you want to spend your time?
  • How will you celebrate?
  • Imagine yourself doing this process again at the end of this year?
  • What will you be most grateful to yourself for?
  • What will you be most likely to celebrate?
  • What do you want to commit to, to put yourself on this path?
  • What’s something you can do today that reflects this vision for your future self?
Next Steps:  Integrate some of these coping strategies into your daily life.

~ In this blog, I write about various practices that I have found helpful to my personal and professional development which readers might integrate into their personal and professional lives. My hope is that this blog will support all readers, especially clinical social workers, clinical supervisors and their supervisees, and therapy or coaching clients.

  • Start a gratitude journal.
  • Create a logbook to track your exercise and movement success.
  • Begin a sketchbook for your artistic visions.
Click on the video below to enjoy a brief animated clip of my interview with Valeria from the Fit For Joy: A Quest for Well-Being Podcast

You can listen to the full hour-long interview on episode #190 of “The Quest for Well-Being” podcast here:

Play Video