Reflect, acknowledge and celebrate

Because recovery is relentless and all-consuming it is very easy to lose perspective and to become overwhelmed and exhausted. One of the best tonics is reflection time – particularly time away is vital to help people keep in touch with a normal frame of reference and prevent them from becoming consumed by the recovery realities. Sponsoring or supporting breaks away – using leverage to arrange holiday homes that volunteers, community leaders or staff can use without eating into their leave or finances would be one example. Providing regular opportunities to recharge and refresh will help retain energy and motivation over the duration of the recovery journey.

People are more likely to feel able to take a needed break if they feel reassured that provisions have been made to continue their work while they are away, otherwise returning to a compounded workload will add to rather than reduce stress.

Both individual and team opportunities for reflection are vital.

Build in a retreat to discuss successes, challenges, provide three meals and a massage, have time to laugh, play nonsense games – laughter is as cathartic as crying. Every so many months have a retreat so that workers can reflect, replenish and then plan for the next so many months. But you need to build it in. Term it planning and replenishment. Replenishment is the most important, but it is harder to sell, so sell it as planning, but spend most of the time on re-energising and then use the creative energy to throw around ideas and plan on the last day. Jill Hofmann – American Red Cross

Acknowledgement and recognition that is meaningful and sincere in its delivery can take many forms. It needn’t be public awards or trumpeting of accomplishments as many are humble and do not seek the spotlight. Whether it is a thank you, a plaque, vouchers for a meal out, tickets to events… find out what might be meaningful. Recognition is not a box to tick but is sincerely motivated and continues over time.

Celebrating success is particularly vital when demands are relentless, there is little control over outcomes and feedback is often disconcerting. People in helping roles are often motivated to make a difference, but tend to fixate on the outstanding, often overwhelming, need.  This is a function of their propensity to care. We all need positive feedback so that we know our efforts count for something. Celebrating successes can be instigated at all levels and be done in a myriad of different ways.

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