Self Care in a Time of Coronavirus

Paula Allen, CVA, VP Programs & Advocacy

We check in with our supervisors and Executive Directors, looking ahead for the next goal we can help make a reality.
Right now, we’re doing more of that than ever - most of us from home, some of us in a greatly reduced work capacity, and all of us with new, competing priorities due to COVID-19. Do we help with the homeschool lesson or join another webinar that will tell us how to manage virtual volunteers? Do we get up early to run to the grocery store or do we stay up late to support a far-flung family member on the phone? Each of us struggles to choose what is best with the knowledge we have. This has been and will continue to be a huge emotional lift, but we’re committed and equipped to do it. If you’re looking for resources to face this challenge, check out this free pack from MindTools, covering everything from boundaries and decision making to managing a team and new ways of thinking.
I’m here to remind you that you also need to check in with yourself. What do you need? What do you need to say ‘NO’ to? As volunteer administrators we tend to be the first to raise our hands to help, to identify needs and figure out a solution, or to pitch in when the going gets tough. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had several months of extra leaning-in on my plate, and I realized the other day that I needed to balance what I am doing for others with what I am doing for myself. Practice a good ‘No’ statement so it doesn’t sound awkward, and you aren’t tempted to explain why after you say it. Never a bad idea to re-watch this clip of Iyanla Vanzant inspiring us to “stand in your no, and for your yes”!
Take time for yourself. Schedule it like you would any other task. You deserve it. Even when coronavirus passes us by, keep scheduling time for yourself. If you think you might be ridiculed or interrupted because it’s “Me” time, do what a manager at my organization does: call it planning time. Call it strategizing time. But whatever you do, reserve the time, and spend it on yourself.
I like to exercise. 10 minutes at my desk is better than sitting there all day! Now that I’m working from home, my commute time has bloomed into aerobics and dog walking and weight lifting. It clears my head, and science tells us it makes us more creative. So the next time you’re worrying about your upcoming Zoom meeting, take a 10 minute walk around the house. Or dance to your favorite music. Don’t believe me? Go look at the study.
I also like to meditate, but it took me a while to figure out what works best for me. I tried the Calm app and discovered I hate someone talking at me - about anything! - when I’m supposed to be meditating. Someone telling me how to do a body-scan while I’m focusing on my toes is a no-go. Other people love it, so it could just be me, but what works best for me is sitting or lying comfortably and letting my mind empty while some acoustic music plays in the background. There are a hundred ways out there to clear your mind, but if you need some inspiration, check out this list of the best meditation apps for 2020. Want to read about mindfulness instead? Try different things and figure out what soothes you and lets you drift peacefully.
All the meditation in the world isn’t going to help if you don’t take care of yourself. As this article on stress-reduction states, physically, socially, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, it’s time for us to focus on ourselves. We need to renew the well from which we draw our inspiration and our strength to help others. We can go back to remote active listening and leading volunteers tomorrow, and be better at it for taking care of ourselves. Take a moment and check in with yourself!
Paula Allen, CVA
AL!VE VP of Programs and Advocacy

Newsletter - AL!VE Newsletter: June 2020

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