Tips for relief workers at the time of COVID-19

Social workers on the ground

As a child, I had imagined multiple times about a global disaster or a war that would take over the world, how I would emerge as a heroine and save the planet! The reality of what we are facing now is nowhere close to what I had in my head. Neither am I individually capable of helping the world nor is the suffering of people easy to comprehend and process.

Times like these require us, social workers, to come together. We are facing an avalanche of work that is maybe three times our normal load and exposure to on-ground realities of the disaster as it unfolds. We are entrusted with the responsibility of not only processing information about people in pain but also to do everything to help them while going through the effects of the pandemic ourselves.

Social workers helping during the COVID-19

Phew, even writing that sentence was overwhelming for me. This is even harsher for the people in the first line of defence – doctors, nurses and hospital administrators as well. If we do not step up to the challenge, the lives of the COVID affected and our underprivileged who are unable to have one meal a day will be at stake. 

All of this can be quite stressful and we may feel like we are at the brink of burning out very soon if we do not take care of ourselves. Here are a few things you can practise as and when possible:

  • Acknowledge that you need to take care of yourself in order to help others. This is the first and foremost important action. As the flight safety guidelines say, “If the cabin pressure drops, be sure to wear and adjust your own mask before helping others.”
  • Practise being in the present. Take deep breaths, prioritize the to-do list and get to it!
  • Recognize what makes you positive and calendar time for it. It could be exercising, dancing, doing origami, gardening, playing an online game, cooking, writing, meditating etc.
  • Respect your emotions. Deal with them, do not suppress them. Speak to a trusted person, write, cry and let it out – process your thoughts and come out on the other end.
  • While the problem is huge and your responsibilities pile up, take two minutes every day to appreciate yourself for the work you have done because of which a few people have been helped. You have made a difference!
  • Be there for your teammates. If you are struggling, then the probabilities of your peers going through something similar is very high. Communicate, connect and support each other. We are in this together.

We are at war against a mega catastrophe and our goal is to carry a positive frame of mind while working towards maximum positive impact. Now is not the time for self-doubt or fear but confidence and courage. March onwards soldiers!

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