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Self Care After Foster Care by Rachel S.: Assessment and Building and Action Plan

Finding ways to take care of yourself amidst the demands and stress of college is very important to success! Rachel S. knows what this is all about...and is not afraid to break it down to you in a honest and real way! Check out the final installment of Rachel's three part blog series on Self Care After Foster Care!

Ladies, gentlemen, and every other magnificent soul existing outside of the archaic gender binary, welcome to the final installment of Self-Care after Foster Care!  In the last post, I mentioned three steps necessary to establishing effective self-care; break down what self-care might look like for you, determine if and to what extent you currently engage in self-care practices, and develop a self-care plan.  Hopefully, we can now cross step one off our list and transition into a more hands-on investigation of steps two and three.  

But before we do, I’d like to share a handy graphic that can help to approximate where you’re at on your journey:

This graphic builds off of the idea that there are levels in your relationship with self-care, and provides a broad description of each.  It’s important to note that although these levels are a great general reference, the self-care process is not cut-and-dried, and you may often find yourself oscillating between levels.  However, determining where you fall on the scale might give you an idea as to how you might utilize the information presented in this blog. 

Now brace yourself, because I’m going to be throwing a ton of self-care tools your way.

 

Do you currently practice self-care?  What do you do, and how often do you do it?

A great way to comprehensively answer these questions is to perform a self-care assessment.  Completing your assessment is extremely important because it helps you to quantify positive self-care behaviors that enhance your overall wellbeing.  This will also help you to identify areas in which you are thriving and those in which you may need more work, so that you can begin to develop an action plan.

There are many resources available online via a simple Google search, and each assessment uses a similar scoring method.  I have taken the liberty of screening for the best resources, and have determined that Princeton’s UMatter Wellness Self-Assessment is the easiest to use.  They also include an action plan (which we will cover in the next section) within the same document.  However, I found their inclusion of Environmental Self-Care a bit odd and out of scope, and their sections weren’t as comprehensive as I would have liked.  If this is also the case for you, I recommend this assessment by MENTOR or this assessment from Brown University.

In my search, I also came across an interesting assessment provided by the University of Buffalo School of Social Work that allows you to reflect on negative self-care practices alongside positive ones.  Here is a link to the PDF form for download.

Should you choose to modify any of the forms and need help coming up with ideas, [here is a list that may help].  Additionally, Danny’s Place offers a personalized Self-Care Wheel that you can download and print.

 

Do you have an action plan?  What are the steps you can take to maintain and improve your self-care?

Once you’ve completed your assessment and have a pretty good idea of where you stand, I highly encourage you to develop a self-care action plan.  Building an action plan will help you identify your self-care goals, work out solutions to any obstacles you may face, and - most importantly - remain accountable to yourself.

Many worksheets and action plan outlines are available online, but honestly, the University of Buffalo School of Social Work is at the top of the self-care game.  Along with an insane amount of self-care resources and exercises in their Self-Care Starter Kit, they offer a self-care maintenance worksheet that blends in some assessment elements and allows you to identify new self-care practices you’d like to try, target your barriers and negative coping strategies, and draw out the changes you’d like to make.  They also offer an emergency self-care worksheet so that you can put a plan in place before you hit those mega stressful periods in life.

 

And that’s a wrap, folks

I hope this blog series has encouraged you to evaluate your relationship with self-care and that the tools provided will help you to establish effective practices and improve your current ones.  When thinking about self-care, it’s crucial that we recognize the following things: 

  • Self-care is highly individualized.  Your journey won’t look like anyone else’s, and it’s okay to approach self-care in a way that’s most comfortable for you
  • It’s not always easy to do, but as long as you commit to making a little time for yourself, self-care is always accessible
  • Self-care is divided into many areas that span across all scopes of life.  It’s important to monitor your progress in each category, as well as recognize your growth and celebrate your progress
  • At its core, self-care is about self-compassion.  That love you give so freely to others?  Give a little of that back to yourself
  • Self-care is critical in switching from a ‘survive’ to a ‘thrive’ mentality.  It’s a huge first step in healing from trauma and learning to how to reach your potential

Good luck on your journey, and remember; you are worth the investment in self-care.

 

About Rachel S....

Rachel is an Administrative Assistant at the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design and President of the Youth Advisory Board for Our House – a Washtenaw County based nonprofit dedicated to helping young people transition from foster care to adulthood.

Between the 2014 and 2016, Rachel attempted to establish a successful post-secondary education.  It was not until her move to Washtenaw County, and subsequent involvement in the REACH program at Washtenaw Community College, that Rachel was able to link to educational supports specifically geared toward students with a background in foster care.  This holistic support program, as well as connecting to trauma-informed mental health care services, allowed Rachel to build a stable foundation for her educational career and begin to bring her academic goals to fruition.

Rachel is currently a transfer candidate at Washtenaw Community College with plans to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Wayne State University, and her Master’s degree in Social Work thereafter.  Rachel’s interest areas include child welfare policy and advocacy, as well as program development and analysis.

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