Self Care and Stress Management in Foster Care and Social Work

In this episode of the Family Care Learning Podcast, we hear from Will Savoy, our Specialized Youth Permanency supervisor and James Schlemmer, our Youth in Transition program manager. They discuss self-care and stress management in foster care and adoption and in social work in general. Watch the video or read the blog post below to learn more!

Luke 10:27 says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” In this article, we’re going to be breaking down those four aspects of heart, soul, and strength and mind in kind of capturing a holistic self-care regiment, process, or discipline.

When we talk about self-care, what are we called to do and what does Jesus say are those core elements?

Before we move forward, we would just like to mention that if you’re someone who feels like you need more support with stress, anxiety, self-care, we have excellent Christian counseling services through Arizona Family Counseling.

We’re going to dive into some of the more practical steps to do on a daily basis to take care of ourselves.

Starting with the heart, what makes us tick, what is it about us that makes us kind of passionate? “I think that’s the key, you know, as individuals who have worked in social services and youth ministry, kind of those high can be high stress situations. I think one of the keys is just focusing on that passion, you know, what is it that called to this work in the first place?” James said.

James said working with Youth is what drives his passion but now in his role at CFC he doesn’t have as many interactions with you as he did when he first started in his career. He says there are times when he needs to draw back to that passion. He talks about a special file he puts emails with good stories that he goes to to read and refuel his passion.

“When I’m starting to feel that stress, you know, going back to that file, reading through like, what is the work that we’re doing? What’s the importance of it?” James said.

Will talked about finding your creative outlet or way to meditate and find time with the Lord to refuel your passion and your heart in stressful times.

James talked about having people in your life to check in on you. “We don’t want to wait until the house is on fire to start saying, Hmm, is there an issue with my, with my heart, because I’ve been yelling at people a lot, you know, like that might be waiting too long, you know, how do you take that inventory?” he said.

James said a good way to test how your heart is doing is by recognizing what kind of things you are praying for or praying about. Sometimes that can tell you where your heart is.

The next component is the soul. “In regards to prayer, one of the things that, that has been really helpful for me, or is, um, I listened to a local pastor and when it came up and come to this idea and seminary and things like that is praying as a person. So if we look at like the Psalms as a good example, like you’ve got the range of emotions of like, I’m going to dance before the Lord, I’m so excited and then on the other hand, it’s like, I am crushed and broken and everything that has gone that could go wrong did go wrong,’ Will said. There is this wide range of emotions and Will said how freeing it is to bring those to the Lord and to move forward together.

James said praying right from where you are in whatever moment you are in and giving your honesty to the Lord is helpful. God already sees and completely understands what is going on so He will meet you right where you are at.

Will reminds us that we can relax and have a sense of security when talking and praying to the Lord.

Will also reminds us to spend time in the Word, reading the Bible. “That’s the thing God has given us to nourish our life here on earth,” Will said.

Will also mentioned worship. “We should always have those go to worship playlist or those songs that really resonate to kind of drive us back home,” he said.

Will mentions serving as another way to help refuel your spirit when dealing with stress. He suggests making meal boxes or serving in the children’s ministry at church.

James brought up the great point that when serving it should be something that gives you life not drains you even more. It’s never helpful to burn the candle at both ends he said.

Moving onto the component of strength. James opened up by asking yourself questions like are you eating right and drinking enough water? Are you sleeping enough and exercising enough?

“In the serving fields for the longterm, I think what, what I have found is that it’s not so much about could I stand to lose 20 pounds? Sure. Would I feel better? Would I be healthier? Sure. But I think what are the daily practices that allow me to release this stress,” James said. “It’s about not making it a huge, like if I don’t get this done, I’ve failed,” he added.

“It’s really about like, how do I put these things into practice in the daily? So that when stress hits, it’s not a new, you know, it’s, it’s kinda like those reps, you know, like we’re putting reps in at practice because when it comes game time, we don’t want to have to think about like, what are the things that we’re doing daily so that when stress hits these things, aren’t the first thing fall away,” James said.

Will talked about showing yourself grace in times of stress.

“As people in the helping fields, as individuals who work or participate, serve in foster care and adoption, you know, we tend to be the ones who, as soon as stress hits, we prioritize other people and not ourselves because we look at it almost as like a selfish thing, like self-care is not selfish. It’s what we do in order to be able to do good work,” James said.

The last component is mind.

Will talked about how he had a mentor say to him one time, “One insight brings a catalyst for change.”

“So finding things like podcasts that are 20 minutes long finding short courses on our Family Care Learning, um, and just talking to people, support groups like those little just, it can come from anywhere or maybe you read a book you’re like, great. This one chapter is what I’m going to focus on and what a, what I’m going to try to apply in solving this caregiving challenge, this parental challenge, this, this new opportunity to build trust with the kiddo that, that I want to show is worth their trust in, in some of those things,” Will said.

James talked about having someone to talk to about this new insight that you just learned. Having someone to share things with is very helpful.

“That kind of idea of sharing and looking to apply what you, what, you know, um, and knowing, and again, just giving yourself some grace of like, you’re not going to apply it perfectly in the application,” Will said.