Self-care is the process of maintaining and promoting one’s health, well-being and development to meet everyday challenges and stressors with energy, vitality and self-confidence. Rather than a passive process, self-care calls for active engagement and intentional action. Self-care can be a combination of physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological or intellectual processes.

For people working in demanding positions, self-care is especially important to managing one’s level of stress and preventing burn out. In fact, “according to Health Canada (2009), stress and stress-related symptoms account for 85% of all visits to doctors.” Many studies point to the process of self-care as an acquired set of skills rather than a personal attribute.

Covenant House feels that part of teaching youth new and healthy coping behaviours is to model that in their staff team. They celebrate birthdays and special events (of both youth and staff), they provide training in new areas to facilitate learning and they create a supportive staff team. Supervisors always check with their direct reports on how they are managing and if there are any issues that are presenting that need to be addressed. Staff retreats and an annual renewing of the covenant (a day which features past youth returning to share their success stories) is part of re-motivating and energizing the team.

Staff also talk about self-care – with each other as a staff team and with the youth they work with. Strategies for self-care are as diverse and varied as people, but include activities that help you relax, feel better, deal with emotions or otherwise take care of your physical and emotional self.

Self-care activities can include such things as:

  • eating healthy meals/eating your favourite comfort food
  • exercising or doing a fun activity
  • relaxing with a good book/TV show/movie
  • talking with friends or family
  • spending time with pets
  • meditating/engaging in spiritual pursuits
  • going for a walk or drive to your favourite place

In this section, you will find tools to help assess your level of stress. You will also find toolkits and solutions that will help you learn some of the necessary skills for applying self-care to your everyday life.