Here at Nourishing Hearts Wellness Care Farm, we strive to live a self-caring lifestyle in both our personal and professional lives. We live our lives with a deep connection to nature through wildlife conservation, therapeutic farming, sensory gardening and animal caring. As experienced helping professionals, we recognize the importance of self-care and invite helping professionals to join the Nourishing Hearts Self-Care Community to participate in:

Self-Care Memberships for Helping Professionals 

Helping professionals do an excellent job of breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness. However, when we look in the mirror, we might not be quite as good at applying those same stigma-fighting and self-compassion principles. There can be a tendency for helpers to place the needs of others above their own needs. We will fight incredibly hard to help others enjoy peace, health and their human rights, but in order to do so we can often compromise our own peace, health and human rights. We spend our working days carefully listening to the needs of others, deaf to what our own hearts and bodies are telling us.​

Compassion Fatigue:  Compassion Fatigue (CF) is when someone who regularly hears/witnesses very difficult and traumatic stories begins to lose their ability to feel empathy for their clients, loved ones and co-workers.  This deep physical and emotional exhaustion has been described as “having nothing left to give” and “an occupational hazard”.  CF can show as a variety of symptoms presenting either behaviourally, emotionally, relationally, physically and spiritually.Helping professionals are able to connect with their clients because of their strong ability to empathize with them.  It is this gift of empathy that can also lead them to develop CF. By learning about CF and developing ways to manage it, these helpers can continue to do the work they love, and are good at, while still being able to thrive personally.  

Vicarious Trauma:When a person is continuously exposed to other people’s traumatic experiences through witnessing and/or hearing others’ stories, vicarious trauma can be experienced. Vicarious trauma (VT) means that you have not been the direct victim of a trauma, but you have experienced it second hand  through your client’s stories and may be experiencing post traumatic stress symptoms similar to the person who experienced it.  This can include intrusive imagery (images of trauma popping into your head) dreaming about the traumatic situation or avoiding certain activities and so on.Ongoing vicarious trauma can result in a shift in the helper’s worldview and sense of meaning, for example, someone who may regularly feel safe can begin to doubt their safety if they work with victims of crime and hear numerous stories of crimes and trauma.  If a helper has a previous history of trauma (and many have as more than 70% of the population has experienced one or more event significant enough to be traumatic) that is unresolved, then you are more likely to experience VT.

Burnout: Burnout is the extreme end of Compassion Fatigue.  Both compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma can lead to burnout.  It means that symptoms have been happening on a regular basis for a long time. In extreme cases, burnout can lead to serious physical and mental illness.

Compassion fatigue can take a physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional toll on people who experience it. Common symptoms of compassion fatigue include:

  • Less ability to function
  • More sickness, aches, and pains
  • Chronic physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Depersonalization
  • Feelings of inequity toward the therapeutic or caregiver relationship
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of self-contempt
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Poor job satisfaction
  • Feeling bored
  • Working harder, getting less done

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is an essential social work survival skill. Self-care refers to activities and practices that we can engage in on a regular basis to reduce stress and maintain and enhance our short- and longer-term health and well-being. Self-care is necessary for your effectiveness and success in honoring your professional and personal commitments.

Practicing self-care will help you:

  • Identify and manage the general challenges that all hard-working professionals face, such as the potential for stress and burnout or interpersonal difficulties.
  • Be aware of your own personal vulnerabilities, such as the potential for retraumatization (if you have a trauma history), vicarious or secondary traumatization (if you work with individuals who report their own traumatic experiences), and compassion fatigue (which you can develop from a combination of burnout and vicarious traumatization).
  • Achieve more balance in your life, by maintaining and enhancing the attention you pay to the different domains of your life in a way that makes sense to you.

Aims of Self-Care

Self-care is not simply about limiting or addressing professional stressors. It is also about enhancing your overall well-being. There are common aims to almost all self-care efforts:

  • Taking care of physical and psychological health
  • Managing and reducing stress
  • Honoring emotional and spiritual needs
  • Fostering and sustaining relationships
  • Achieving an equilibrium across one's personal, school, and work lives

Each of us may differ in the domains we emphasize and the balance we seek among them.

The Snuggle Stall: Private up close and cuddly experience with the therapy animals. 

Meadow Walk: Walking trail through the pollinator and butterfly meadow. 

Wellness Gatherings: Barnyard Yoga, Animal Assisted Mindfulness, Wild Forage Walk.

Lavender Lounge: Private garden that includes hammocks, camper trailer, lavender garden, fire pit and the snuggle stall.  Seasonal. 

Self-Care “Glamping” Retreat & Farm Stay:(Opening 2019) Farm stays guests have the option in participate in the day-to-day farm activities, including gardening and animal care.

Assessment Tools & Exercises 

"As a helping professional myself, I know first hand the importance of self-care but also know how difficult it can be when we are helping people in need. It's all too common to work through lunch, take work home and use our personal time to care for others but how long can we last without giving back to ourselves? This is why I have created the Nourishing Hearts Wellness Care Farm membership that is dedicated to helping professionals and their own self-care needs. Care for yourself so that you can continue to care for others" 💗 Julie

Butler, L. D., & McClain-Meeder, K. (2015). Self-Care Starter Kit. Located at​

Self-Care  for Helping Professionals & Caregivers

Wellness Care Farm

Nourishing Hearts

Nourishing Hearts Self-Care Membership

Julie Casey MSW, RSW