At this time of year, many of Alberta’s frontline service organizations are experiencing huge demand. Even with the holiday rush over, the financial burden of the holiday season means that many people are still looking to Alberta’s nonprofit sector for affordable services and ways to meet their basic needs. Counselling, crisis support, and family and sexual violence organizations know all too well that the holidays are not always a happy time. As well, winter conditions mean that it is peak season for organizations serving the homeless.
Thank goodness for the volunteers and staff who work tirelessly at these organizations to support Alberta’s most vulnerable, especially at this time of year! For them, seeing the demand for their work, can mean that it’s hard to take a break. Stress and burnout are common in any field, but they are particularly impactful for those providing the most needed care and support. Having both accessed and provided frontline services, I know the toll the work can take, and I want to encourage staff and volunteers in high stress situations to remember to take care of yourself as well.
Remember the airplane instructions: in case of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others. It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself, even when others need help. It is necessary!
Self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Not everyone can book a spa retreat or take a week off during the busy season, but you can be attentive to your needs and carve out time for yourself. Self-care is deeply personal, but there are lots of resources to give you some inspiration. A quick Google search gives hundreds of self-care ideas, from a hot bath complete with candles to a delicious and healthy smoothie. Even volunteering can be self-care!
Psychology Today breaks down self-care into seven categories:
- Sensory: cozy blankets, furry animals, the sound of running water, scented candles, or the sun on your face.
- Pleasure: a meal out, good movies, playing with your dog, gardening, or a delicious hot beverage.
- Mental: a new activity, cleaning and organizing, a challenging crossword puzzle, or reading an interesting article.
- Spiritual: meditation, prayer, reading poetry, visiting nature, or attending church.
- Emotional: a good cry, writing in a journal, or laughing out loud.
- Physical: yoga, dancing, a good night’s sleep or an afternoon nap, or going for a stroll.
- Social: calling a friend, joining a club or support group, or surrounding yourself with family.
In short, you can take care of yourself by doing what you love, connecting to yourself, and living in the moment, even just for a moment! What that looks like for you is your choice.
What do you do for self-care? My favourite self-care methods are getting some fresh air, cuddling with my cats, arts and crafts, and yoga or meditation. Please share your ideas in the comment section below!
Sam Kriviak, Program Coordinator