The Cost of Caring


What draws people to human services work? 

Some find it professionally and personally stimulating. 

Some appreciate that the work aligns with their own moral beliefs. 

Some live for the personal growth they experience.

And some are drawn to the work because they serve others who are experiencing extreme and challenging situations.

In the age of COVID -19 and Sheltering-in-Place, human service work is even more important and urgent. There is more need and less resources. Our human service providers are experiencing higher levels of cumulative stress, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. This is the cost of caring. 

So what can be done? We need to build resiliency, in our organizations and in our providers.

Here are five key components in developing resiliency.

  1. Build a toolbox of self-regulation skills. This includes activities such as a body scan to release tension, breathing exercises, emotional awareness, and mindfulness.
  2. Live intentionally. Determine what drives you to do the work you do. Develop boundaries around your work and professional lives. 
  3. Have a growth mindset. Learn to change your perception about an event or relationship that is causing you grief.
  4. Create connections. Surround yourself with people who will challenge and support you, in every aspect of your life.
  5. Practice self care. Physical activity, engaging creatively, time away – it looks different for everyone.

As they build resiliency in themselves, they will find that those they serve will benefit as well. Not only because of the personal growth they experience but because they will be modeling it for those they serve.

If you know of someone who works in human services, be sure to thank them. Simple, kind words will go a long way.

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Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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