Category Archives: Paula Cummings

Zen and the Art of Social Worker Maintenance

by Paula Cummings, MSW candidate

December 31, 2014

With a new year dawning, we offer this post to encourage balance in our lives — both professional and personal — in 2015. Guest author Paula Cummings has established a comprehensive self-care regimen; here she reviews what she finds helpful in building and maintaining such a program.



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Take a piece of chocolate. Unwrap it as slowly as possible. Breathe in the scent. What memory does it conjure up? Place the chocolate on your tongue. Let it melt on your taste buds. Take the time to experience how it feels and tastes.


This was an exercise in the Mindfulness and Movement class I take weekly at Sati Virya Yoga & Therapy in Rochester, New York. Being in this class helps me to center myself, so that I am grounded in the present moment. It reminds me to stop and breathe. But most importantly, it helps to buffer the stress of working and studying in the field of social work.


While social work is rewarding and fulfilling, it can also be emotionally draining. We are often drawn to this profession. Our compassion for our fellow human beings and our sense of duty for improving the human condition drives us. However, our compassion and commitment can leave us vulnerable to work-related stress. Without proper attention to our own wellness, we can find ourselves in a position where we are giving too much.


This can lead to a loss of meaning, connection, and awareness, causing us to focus only on getting through the day-to-day activities of living, losing sight of the bigger picture of human rights and social justice.

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