In recent supervision sessions and conversations with my peers and colleagues, there has been much discussion around the unique challenges that we as community health workers are facing in this time of change and uncertainty.
Some of these tricky situations are familiar to those of us who have already worked from home or in multiple workplaces and contexts, however others are new and unexpected.
These conversations have had me reflecting on the new situations I have personally encountered, for example having to adjust – literally overnight – to using new platforms as a way of connecting with my clients and colleagues.
I have also noticed the emotional impact of the difficult and challenging stories I have been hearing from others, as these resonate with some of my own personal experience of ongoing change and loss through this period.
Then there are the logistical and practical challenges of navigating no less than 4 members of my household (not including the dog!) all demanding equal rights to technology, space and privilege in the home – never before have I been more convinced that home-schooling is definitely NOT in my future!
I have also been surprised by the “not so subtle” pressures from the world to get on with “business as usual” – as if this was nothing but a blip on the radar, a tiny storm cell brewing in the background, with only minimal impact on the stormy waters that we are all navigating.
At SKATTLE, we believe that we are all inherently capable, with skills to navigate life and all its complexities, built into us. We also have the capacity to grow and keep learning new skills and developing ways of applying these skills to new and unexpected challenges – just like the myriad that Covid-19 has presented.
So, here are some ideas taken from the collective wisdom of community workers, practitioners and colleagues in SKATTLE’s therapeutic community:
- Deliberately dividing the space in your home between “work and non-work” so that these boundaries remain clear and defined – as a way of protecting ourselves and our loved ones from “the blurriness” creeping in.
- While we may be doing this physically, we also need to keep a steady watch for the “time monster” – you know the one – where doing just another hour’s work can invite us to be “around” our families but not entirely “with” them.
- Taking very regular, scheduled work breaks – one colleague shared how her, and her partner have deliberately scheduled these together where possible, to hold each other accountable and to check in with other members of the family – with the intention of inviting balance back into their work/life spaces.
- Transition takes time and it’s ok to allow ourselves the time to adjust so that we can invite our clients to do the same.
- Prioritising self-care is more important than ever – at a time when we might be making ourselves more available to family, friends, colleagues, clients and community, we can easily find ourselves forgetting about our own needs. Holding firm on our commitment to our own self-care ensures longevity in this uncertain time.
- Maintaining gratitude and a sense of humour – remembering to hold onto gratitude and lightness ourselves, models this for those around us and can reframe moments of challenge to encourage resilience and growth through the collective trauma experience.
- Reminding ourselves of what is and what isn’t in our control – so that we don’t place unrealistic expectations on ourselves to manage miracles or take on burdens that are not ours to carry.
- Minimising social media and / or news that can ramp up our sense of anxiety, and deciding which service to get your updates from so that we are not getting overwhelmed.
Hope you found this article helpful! We would love to hear your thoughts – do you have any ideas or tips to offer that we could also share with our SKATTLE community?
Article written by SKATTLE counsellor Michelle Fairbrother