Self-Care for Domestic Violence Advocates Around the Holidays
Posted on: 11.24.10
11/24/2010 – For those of us who work in the domestic violence advocacy field we are used to giving… and giving… and giving. We love to give! That’s why we do this work. While the holiday season is often a time when we surround ourselves with family and an outpouring of joy it can often be a challenge to balance our work, family and busy schedules. It can turn a joyous holiday season of “how am I going to get all of this done and stay sane!?” It is extremely important as advocates and as human beings that we slow down, take a deep breath and take good care of ourselves or we will surely burnout! With all of our giving we need to make sure we have a full “give tank” to help us to be able to sustain our giving spirit, especially around the holidays!
Burnout can be manifested physically, mentally, behaviorally, and spiritually. Some symptoms include:
- Chronic tiredness – sleep does not refresh
- Sleep affected – hard to get to sleep or wake early
- Withdrawal and isolating oneself from friends and colleagues
- Lack of effectiveness
- Negative mind set and irritability
- Cynicism about previously valued things
- Inner sense of emptiness – nothing left to ‘give’
So how can we take care of ourselves?
- Learn to say no. It’s hard sometimes because we WANT to help and do everything we can, but at the end of day we may realize, “I have taken on too much.” Ask for help or delegate when possible both at work and at home. Being overstressed can lead to under-productivity. We have to learn not immediately commit to a social event and realize that true friends won’t be instantly offended if I don’t accept their party invitation right away. You may prefer to stay home and spend some quiet time to myself.
- Take care of your body. Try to implement healthy eating, exercise, and SLEEP into your normal routine. Remember: your work will still be there tomorrow and it is important that you are there too, in a healthy state of mind.
- Disconnect sometimes. Go for a walk. Read a relaxing, non-work related book. Listen to some music. Make sure you take some time away from the computer, BlackBerry, and Television screen.
- Find creative outlets. Creative outlets to allow us to reflect on the work we are doing and where we are in our lives. Write in a journal, even a few minutes to jot down the things we’re mulling over can help us make the things that seem overwhelming more manageable and can many times put things into perspective.
- Plan and prioritize your life. Have a calendar with all your events, commitments, and to-do’s that you can access daily. Having everything in one place makes it easier for you to see what you need to get done and when so you can accordingly turn down that grant writing deadline or last-minute dinner invite.
- Physically schedule downtime. Scheduling time to read and exercise and even watch that guilty pleasure show on DVR on your calendar reminds you that it’s okay to dedicate this time to YOU and I’ll still be able to get everything done. Then you can enjoy what you are doing and not having deadlines or Holiday commitments hanging over your head.
- It is so very satisfying ticking off that errand on your to-do list. Having a concrete reminder that you ARE getting things done can be a confidence booster and that everything (including eliminating domestic violence) has to be done one step at a time.
- Take time for intimacy. It doesn’t have to be physical. Connecting with a range of loved ones, especially your partner, to gain support and comfort from them if you’re stressed can be a wonderful relief. Have a little romance or do something fun together.
- Take care of each other both at work and at home. Remember how hard this work is and how hard life is for many people. Give people the support and care they need to be all they can be!
Your holiday stress will seem like a distant memory with a little self care!
More tips for surviving the holidays:
- Set up walking dates instead of lunch dates with friends
- Try to save some room for dessert, or consider eating it first if that’s what you really want
- Send “Happy New Year” cards in the middle of January instead of holiday cards
- Purchase a special holiday gift for yourself, you’re worth it.
- Allow yourself to grieve if necessary during this time, many people remember losses over the holidays.
- Dismiss the expectation to be everything to everybody. Establish realistic expectations for yourself
- Play and be with children – rediscover your spontaneity – notice how effortlessly in the moment young children are – join them by engaging fully in their games. This can be the same for pets too!
When I started doing research for this article it was amazing to me how much information there was out there. People are blogging about this subject, writing articles and giving great information. These are the places I found this information.
Submitted by GCADV Associate Director
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