Chelsea Kelly says in order to take care of others one must take care of themselves because it's hard to manage anything when your basics aren’t met.
Chelsea Kelly is a social worker and in order to maintain the strength to care for others she does her best to care for herself.
"Exercise is really important to me. I need it to function in the best way. So I'm making sure that I prioritize that and also healthy eating and just making sure that I'm caring for my physical body by getting enough sleep," said Kelly, whose is from the Sto:lo Nation.
"It's hard to manage everything else when the basics aren't met."
She admits COVID-19 has added to the immense amount of stress her job entails. Kelly is a manager for Hulitan and is responsible for the safety of children, who may enter the child welfare system. They assist the family unit with improving their parenting skills and getting their children back.
But some of the family units are dealing with trauma and poverty and COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem.
“It also has really impacted the families whose children are in care, because they can't visit with their children anymore. That's taken a huge toll, I think, on the mental health of some of the parents and the children that we work with,” said Kelly.
Some of their clients struggle to keep phones or emails, which has only added to the stress. Kelly and her team added two new positions just to help those families with food.
When Kelly was on the frontlines she managed four case files and as a manager she manages roughly 28 files. And in order to deal with it head on she sees a therapist.
“I have a counsellor that I connect with on a regular basis, and that, I feel like, is just kind of an ongoing thing for me within this line of work. It's important to have someone to connect to that may be outside of your family and friends circle and coworkers,” said Kelly.
It's important for her to be emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally healthy because she loves to care for people. Kelly sees herself as very empathetic and was always driven to help people.
And because of past struggles she learned ways to support others.
“I learned more about what it feels like to need support and what is helpful from those supporting, and I learned kind of a lot about what I needed and what I would have appreciated,” said Kelly.
And Kelly wasn’t always so balanced. Through out her teens she was a perfectionist and excelled academically because of it. That amount of drive did help her get accepted to the University of Victoria but it added a lot of stress and anxiety.
Her advice to her younger self would be to care for herself emotionally, physically and spiritually as well but Kelly admits the best way to learn is experience.
“You kind of have to go through some hard things to recognize what is important to you,” said Kelly
Thanks to Oscar Baker III for writing this article.
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