Weathering the storm

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Storms come and go. We can let the wind guide the ship or we can manage the sail to our intended destination.

BASW have written a great article on Weathering the Storm: How can social workers maintain their emotional resilience during the coronavirus pandemic?

I believe the following this is useful advice for all professionals and lines of work.

The topics include:

  • Thinking Positive

  • Being Hopeful

  • Coping with uncertainty

  • Distinguishing needs from wants

  • Asking for what you need

  • Managing expectations

  • Developing compassion

  • Processing Emotions

  • Escaping

Here we focus on a couple of aspects ...

Emotional processing

'Remember that it is not unprofessional to express emotion. Indeed, it is an important part of taking care of yourself and remaining functional in your role. Try to find the opportunity to talk to people about the impact this experience is having on you emotionally. Vicarious trauma, in which you personally take on the emotions of others, is likely to decrease resilience. Reflection and emotional processing are important to reduce the likelihood of this happening.

Sometimes our emotional response to adversity is felt more strongly in the aftermath when we finally have the opportunity to reflect in more depth. When life returns to normal, teams may want to consider a forum such as peer debriefing sessions to provide space to talk about the overall impact.'

Thinking positively

Isn't always easy when you're in stress mode. When enduring negative stress, that is persistent or chronic stress it can erode our solution oriented attitude and personal resources over time. Timothy Gallway, the author of inner game of work refers to the 'shadow personality' which is endured when under negative stress. He believes that we tend to be more judgmental and critical of self and others which can become standard practice if chronic. This of course is a risk in a uk based social work world where chronic stress has become the norm yet we are expecting to be strength and asset based in our approach with service users.

'In the midst of adversity it can be difficult to see any positives, particularly if your life has been significantly touched by the virus in a personal way. However, it can be useful to remember that challenging situations often bring about some kind of change, and change is neither wholly positive nor wholly negative.'

Practices like Havening Techniques can help us to shed the toxic chemical build up of emotional stress. Stress afterall is felt in the body by a concoction of neurochemicals which make us feel a certain way. When we allow them to take over they can skew our perspective and impact negatively on our self care. When we engage in daily resilience building techniques our body gets what it needs and we have an optimistic outlook.

'The restricted circumstances of lockdown could even be a source of inspiration as we reflect on what is particularly important to us and what positive changes we may make when life returns to normal.'

Come back to read more about Being Hopeful and Developing Compassion...


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