We are all facing challenging times, and it is important to make sure that we do what we can to stay balanced and nurtured as much as we can. Dr Shannon Said, Social Work Lecturer at Excelsia College, has provided some helpful tips for social workers and individuals who care for others in their professional lives.
- Hold yourself and others kindly. We often reassure the people we work with that it’s normal when rapid change leaves us feeling insecure and without clarity about the future. But do we allow ourselves space and time to feel this and process this? Let’s make sure that we offer ourselves kindness as well as others!
- Be flexible in ways you offer to meet clients. Some will prefer being able to make use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other platforms, as this is not as confrontational as meeting face to face, particularly during a pandemic!
- Be prepared. If opting to use video conferencing software, be sure to prepare any soft copy materials ahead of time and use them in a way that offers accessibility and function. Video conferencing software, if done well, might actually enhance your work rather than limit it. One of my favourite sites to use is called Miro (miro.com/app), which allows you to invite people directly via email, is free, and is a virtual whiteboard that allows all sorts of images, word art, mind maps, sticky notes and other tools. This can be a great resource for clients that are creatively inclined or like doing things visually.
- Zoom fatigue is real! If working with video conferencing for hours at time, make sure that you are standing up and moving around as close to once every hour as possible. Get some sun on your face, do some stretching – anything to break the sedentary patterns we get stuck in!
Listen to understand, not to answer. This seems basic but is actually a very hard skill to develop! If we can actively listen, that is, not be thinking while another person is talking and solely focus on what they are saying, they will sense this, and feel listened to. This is so simple but powerful.
- Presence can say more than words. Never doubt the impact your presence can have, even when words are not being used. Especially in difficult times, people might need a sounding board, someone to listen to them, not someone to fix their problem.
- Embrace difference. Social media can be a breeding ground for hostility and misunderstanding. Seek to become more mindful of getting caught up in purely virtual debates that do not have any real-world importance and be open to listening to other perspectives without taking such views personally. The ability to engage with ideas without being offended by them can preserve our sanity!
Healing and self-care
- Recreation is more than a luxury. If you break down the first word of this point, re-creation, we can see why self-care is so important – we need renewal and revitalisation regularly and finding activities that help us reconnect to our values can do just that! If you haven’t already, identify what your core values are, how you express them, and how you can take even small steps towards incorporating recreational activities that align with these values on a regular basis.
- One day’s troubles at a time. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of things that need to be done on a daily basis, but a good question to ask ourselves is, ‘What can I reasonably do today?’ I find having a notepad with a list of daily tasks is useful. This helps me to declutter my mind, focus on a handful of tasks each day, then cross each item off my list once done. I find this rewarding!
- Prioritise healing activities. What does healing and recovery mean for you? Some might use prayer, meditation, a brisk walk, or other activities to reconnect with themselves and the world around them. Find activities that can be done regularly and prioritise these. Again, these are not a luxury but a necessity in times like these. When done consistently, overall wellbeing will increase, and I believe we can be more productive even in shorter spaces of time because we are more balanced.
If you feel like you could make a difference to society, why not consider a Master of Social Work (Qualifying)? A Graduate Certificate in Counselling (Bridging Course) is also available if you don’t have the relevant study entry requirements for the master.