You’ve probably heard of self-care, but have you heard the term ‘communal care’? As a member of a team, whether you’re in a leadership role or not, you can practice communal care to help your teammates—and to help yourself in the process. But how do you do this?
Here, TrueSport Expert Nadia Kyba, MSW, President of Now What Facilitation, explains what exactly communal care is, why we need it, and how to bring this idea to your team.
The Problem with Self-Care
In modern society, whether you’re reading magazines or scrolling TikTok, there’s a lot of discussion of self-care, ranging from seeking help from a licensed professional therapist to taking bubble baths to ease stress. But the issue with self-care, Kyba explains, is that it puts the burden of care on the people who are already struggling. To practice self-care pressures people to make themselves well—and it doesn’t always work. This is where the idea of communal care comes in.
What Is Communal Care?
Communal care is the shift from self-care to a community focus. Unlike self-care, where you’re expected to help yourself, and it’s your problem and responsibility to take care of yourself, communal care is based around asking for help and giving help when you can. “Communal care is a shift where people in your community—which can be your team—are committed to being there for one another, recognizing that sometimes people aren't able to take care of themselves,” says Kyba. “It's really about paying attention to how everyone on your team is doing, and figuring out what it is that they need to feel better.”
Communal Care Recognizes Privilege
To be in the position to practice self-care usually requires some level of privilege: It’s hard to make time for a bubble bath or to pay for a session with a therapist if your family is struggling financially and you’re working an after-school job in addition to playing a sport. Communal care is about each person recognizing their privilege, and acting accordingly. Communal care means asking how you can best serve your teammates. This may mean a more affluent teammate offering a ride to the teammate who’s usually left waiting for the bus after practice, or even accepting and acknowledging that teammates who are working after-school jobs may not be able to make every practice but shouldn’t be benched due to their circumstances.
Communal Care Starts with One Student
If your team seems disjointed and you don’t feel as though you’re practicing communal care right now, it only takes one teammate to start the process. There are two ways to begin creating a culture of communal care for your team: Offer help or ask for it.