Volunteers: How to Boost Resilience during Crisis

AdélaÏde Lefèvre

Psychologist

In small rooms or in community, this can be more challenging but you can follow the 20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, you can move 20 steps for 20 seconds.

As volunteers in confinement, your mission is to help the community but it’s important to help yourself to feel more mentally available for them. Facing this situation, your emotions can be more intense than usual and you can : (a) feel fearful of losing control over an unknown situation; (b) feel isolated or lonely, sad or demotivated; (c) feel angry or frustrated; (d) feel anxious and uneasy; and/or (e) feel guilty not to help enough.
 
These emotions are normal in this abnormal situation which is temporary. Emotional regulation can be more difficult and few habits can help you to regulate your emotions and to cope with stress.
 
Here are few tips to manage your emotions :

Photo by Pixabay

​Practice deep breaths to reduce tension and anxiety

Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and imagine you are in a place you feel relaxed. Create this place inside your mind and take few minutes to fuel your mind with this sensation of well-being. Then you can imagine a compassionate friend near you and you can imagine how he is supportive and caring with you. Keep few minutes to connect with this positive sensation before going back to your activity.

Keep physical activities

Your mental health balance is related to your physical balance. In small rooms or in community, this can be more challenging but you can follow the 20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, you can move 20 steps for 20 seconds. Some activities don’t request space, for example yoga, which is easier to practice.

Keep eating and sleeping routines

Your body and you mind still need to recover energy.

Regulate your eating balance: eat regularly without skipping meals and try to have simple but healthy food (fruits, vegetables, …).

To preserve your sleep quality: avoid tv or computer screening 30 minutes before sleeping, use breathing exercise if needed to help you free your mind.

Photo by Pixabay

Give you some breaks and creativity moments once a day

Use art (drawing, painting, recycling DIY, …) or games (solitaire card games, puzzles or board games if you are in community) to reduce tension, create positive vibes and laugh. Playing or art crafting are a very efficient way to relax, clear mind and help your mental health balance. 

Write a daily journal

Write what you feel and what you experiment. Moreover, every day write at least 1 positive achievement, 1 thing you are proud of, 1 enjoyable sensation, 1 compassionate feedback for yourself.  By writing it, your brain can reframe into a positive way of thinking without denying what is still hard and challenging

Set your “new” limits and accessible objectives

The confinement situation is changing what you can do or not. Your previous objectives may need reassessment to fit with the new constraint. Small steps in a day can help you more to feel comfortable, efficient and capable to do things. When you have an objective, ask yourself “how I can do it in this situation”. Nobody was prepared to this situation, you are in a learning process: learning process can request more time, several trials before success! It’s a reframing process.

Photo by Negative Space

Be compassionate with yourself 

Help you by using kind words and positive reinforcement to yourself. Do with yourself what you do with people you help in your volunteering mission. Imagine each time what you would say to your beneficiaries in this challenging situation and rephrase it to yourself. 

Keep connected with people

Connection is important to feel less isolated. At least once a day, connect with close people to share. It can be before you start your day or at the end of your day. This connection help to reduce the feeling to be isolated even if it’s only virtual! Create distance connection and relationship is important to fuel ourselves with love and care.

If you feel mentally overwhelmed, emotionally drained or hopeless, ask for help

​You are not alone and you can find support. You may need to talk to people or seek for professional help. It’s not being weak or mad to talk to a psychologist or a counselor.  This can be the answer in this difficult moment to help you to cope.



Feature Photo by Madison Inouye

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