"Above all else, it seems to me that it is our role as human beings always to join learning to loving-kindness. Learning to learn, learning to love, and to be kind are so closely interconnected and so profoundly interwoven, especially with the sense of touch, it would greatly help toward our re-humanization if we would pay closer attention to the need we all have for tactual experiences." (Ashley Montagu, _Touching - The Human Significance of the Skin_)

Personal and professional growth will only happen when everyone accepts responsibility for their whole being-physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If we wish to be recognized for our integrity and operate at high levels of consciousness, then it is incumbent upon us to design and administer a daily health plan that includes these four realms.

As an integrative or holistic health practitioner and teacher for many years, I know that those of us who have created a healthy lifestyle and carry out our plans for daily health practice, others appreciate working and being with us in the workplace. They know that we can be counted on, be responsible for our work and respected as effective, skillful and creative professionals. As one aspect of following through with our own personal and professional health practices, willpower or determination is manifested in all that we represent. In other words, we put into practice and apply what we teach. As Chinese medicine is described by Bill Moyers in "Healing and the Mind:"...it is believed that how you live ultimately influences your health. It's not just diet or exercise; it's also a spiritual or emotional balance that comes from the way you treat people and the way you treat yourself. And since that's the basis of their culture, it spills over into their medicine."

Not so, in our American multi-cultural social environment. It is for this reason that we can learn to be more open minded, respectful of others and ourselves by supporting a daily health routine.

This is a 'draft' of my "Self-Care Plan" that I am continuing to develop. This is an example of an outline for students to build their individual plans. Please develop your own personal plan. In our class, I will invite students to include the (4)four realms in their plan and make the following commitments:

1) your "Commitment & Understanding" - an introduction to your self-care plan, and;

2) your "Commitment to Ethical Standards", (Section V).

Jerry Vest

NMSU School of Social Work
Professional Self-Care Plan for Gerald W. Vest, ACSW/LISW/LMT

October 26, 2007

Commitment & Understanding-

1) I understand that health is an experience of well-being in dynamic balance and relationship with my natural and social environments and the integrity of my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms. I recognize that these four realms include developing and maintaining strength, coordination, balance, and flexibility as a whole being.

2) I will maintain a daily health routine as identified in this "Self-Care Plan" and work to maintain my best possible health and well-being as I participate in my social work practice and learning experiences.

3) I will update this Self-Care Plan regularly to support my health, to strengthen my relationships with self and others, and to become mindful of my responsibility to promote ethical and health practices with organizations that I am affiliated and with individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities.

4) I commit myself to the promotion of the well-being for myself and for my clients from a holistic and integrative perspective.

Self-Care Plan

I. Physical Health - my body requires balanced exercises to promote strength, coordination, balance and flexibility.

A. "Master-Level Exercises - Psychocalisthenics" (Ichazo) - I will complete this series of 23 exercises daily (3 days a week). http://pcals.com/

B. I will complete a series of yoga exercises daily for 20 minutes.

C. I will complete 20 minutes of Tai Chi and/or Qigong (energy healing) exercises daily.

D. I will ride my bike at least 2x's a week for 20 minutes.

E. I will walk my dogs 2x's a week for 30 minutes.

F. I will sit in meditation for at least 30 minutes in the AM and PM daily.

G. I will do self-massage in the evening and give a massage to my partner (hands, feet, back, neck, etc) at least 3x's a week. I will also give at least 3 Stressouts (chair-like massage) weekly to others.

H. I will observe my eating habits and work to maintain a balanced diet that includes fresh vegetables, fruit, rice, fish, and fowl.

I. I will play golf at least once a week to support my skill and support my strength, coordination, balance, and flexibility.

II. Mental Health - I recognize that what affects my body affects my mind so I will work to balance and integrate practices that support their integrity.

A. I will read my professional journals, newsletters and web site forums regularly (daily) and stay abreast of national and international news and networks.

B. I will meditate daily as identified earlier to maintain a quiet, calm and open mind.

C. I will contribute to the professional literature by writing articles and blogs and participate daily in related forums on the web.

D. I will give presentations and workshops regularly to individuals, couples, groups, and communities.

E. I will continue to participate in the teaching-learning experience offered me by our School of Social Work.

III. Emotional Health - I recognize that my emotional system is directly related to the balance of my body, mind, and spirit.

A. I will maintain a conscious awareness (open mind) of my interactions, reactions, and relationships.

B. I will observe my "doors of compensation" (Ichazo) so that my outlets do not become habit forming or dependent.

C. I will develop my "fair witness" so that I can maintain the state of being naturally quiet, respectful, confident, and secure.

D. I will continue to be happy while supporting my family, friends, colleagues, students, clients, and others.

IV. Spiritual Health - I recognize that humanity is one body, one mind, and one spirit. We are One!

A. I will continue to maintain the dignity and respect for others and for myself.

B. I will continue to provide service to individuals, groups, communities, and others.

C. I will observe some 'mindful' and prayerful moments each day.

D. I will continue meditation and other health practices as a means to maintain balance, wholeness, and spiritual development(unity).

V. Ethical Standards-
A. I will honor our NASW Code of Ethical Standards.

B. I recognize that the standard of "Physical Contact" with clients and others states: "Social workers who engage in appropriate physical contact with clients are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern such physical contact." (NASW Code of Ethics - 1.10) As a certified partner of the "stressout" I will follow the "Guidelines for the Safe use of Touch." http://www.jerryvest.pages.web.com


Most students participating in my classes enjoy the challenge to improve the quality of their lives, health and relationships. They realize that it takes courage to be the best you can be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It also means that we must establish priorities-plans and goals-so that our learning and our lives become more meaningful and we can become more whole and effective in our professional practice with all populations.

Author's Bio: 

In addition to teaching and practicing social work, I am administering and supporting an international community of certified partners of the 15-Minute StressOut Program for individuals, couples, groups, families, and communities; serve as Team Leader for Las Cruces, Health Promotion Team with Elders; and, facilitate stress management classes for US Army Community Services, Ft. Bliss, TX.