Caring for Yourself 2

In a previous course section you learned how important recovery and relaxation are to limit stress reactions and to avoid exhaustion. The simple image of a battery that needs to be charged regularly might help to understand that your energy and your resources are not endless. For you as a volunteer in refugee aid it is extremely relevant to stay in a healthy balance and to respect the signals of your body and soul. You can only be supportive to others when you care for yourself and find strategies for recovering and relaxing.

As already mentioned it is not the best idea to do mostly “nothing” in your free hours. You should carry out activities that you like and enjoy. Every person is different, so it is crucial that you learn who you are and which kind of activities give you back energy and strength. We already explained that you also should be aware of the current state of your body and soul. If you are feeling nervous and overstimulated you should do things that give you back inner peace and relaxation. If you are feeling bored it makes sense so look for new challenges and break out of your routines.  And in any case you need some “soul food” every now and then to stay healthy and motivated.

We also explained the relevance of relaxation and exercise for minimising stress reactions and staying balanced.

Example

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Rita is a kindergarten teacher. She is married and lives in a nice house in a suburban area. She works as a volunteer in refugee aid twice a week. Mostly she cares for women and children. She organises gatherings where the newcomers can cook and eat together and exchange their experiences.

In her free time she sings in a jazz choir and plays piano. But three months ago Rita’s mother moved in the family’s house. She is not very healthy and not able to live alone anymore. Rita tries to support her as much as she can, and several times now she did not make it to join the choir rehearsals. The new piano sheets lie around as she bought them. Lately Rita sometimes feels very angry and nervous. Often she starts quarrels with her husband or her mother, and also with the children in her job and in the refugee accommodation she loses her patience very quickly. At night she often tosses and turns in bed unable to fall asleep. In the morning she feels tired and unmotivated to start the new day.

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