Even when stress is acknowledged within an organisation and self-care is encouraged, heavy workloads can make considering your own needs feel unachievable. Self-care is added to the long list of things that you know you should be doing and people then bear the burden of guilt for another responsibility that they are unable to attend adequately to. When volunteers or staff are tired, they are encouraged to take a break. Yet doing so feels more daunting than not. This is due to the fact that tidying up work to meet deadlines over the time you will be away, and setting up provisions for continued support whilst you are on leave, adds to current demands and returning from a break to a mountainous backlog caused by your absence feels self-defeating. Handing projects over to others, without adequate resourcing and faith in the ability for them to be continued, feels similarly implausible.
The expectation of self-care, taking breaks, attending workshops, rather than helping they can add to the pressure. Looking after your own practical needs and self-care becomes something else to feel guilty about not being able to do. Anon - Japan
Saying you should go, take a break, but no provisions in place to relieve me... It feels placatory. Anne Leadbeater – Kinglake Ranges
There is the extra kicking of yourself, the shame and guilt, when you cannot practice what you preach with regards to self-care. Anon – New York
The biggest challenge for me was admitting that I needed more balance for my family. I still needed to volunteer but with the demands as they were, was I being irresponsible? Should I put it aside? But then I look about and consider who can I pass the buck to? But everyone is in the same boat. You need to feel comfortable and confident in who you can hand your projects to. Fiona Leadbeater – Volunteer, Kinglake Ranges