January and February are tough months for VMCs. There’s no way to get around it. VMCs working at environmental organizations can’t do much because, well the ground is frozen and there’s usually
snow on the ground. Enter the doldrums…VMCs at youth-based organizations are usually mitigated by school closings; if school is closed due to inclement weather—so will their organization. On top program closures; when the youth return to school (and their respective youth development programs) they’re usually amped through the roof. Enter chaos….All in all, January and February are the greyest months; and usually result in making us feel the bluest. Speaking from personal experience, when I was a VMC last year during the infamous Snomageddon, I literally sat at my computer and cried at the weather report expecting 10 more inches of snow….yes, I literally cried. Looking back, I see clearly that my melodrama was completely unnecessary however; you get my drift.
How does one occupy time, and keep a positive attitude amidst mounting frustration with the weather AND with complications at the organization where one works? The following tips will guide you through the winter blues…!
My first piece of advice would be to plan. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you say. Just more work to do. Many people don’t realize the effectiveness of a good, well-researched plan. At the beginning of every Volunteer Maryland year, VMCs are required to turn in a work plan outlining their goals for the year. While it’s impossible to know what the year will bring, a well thought out plan will at the very least allow you to put your thoughts in one place. Remember to be flexible, plans change all the time! Think of it as a “living” document, something we tell VMCs to remind them that nothing is set in stone.
Maintain open communication with your supervisor, and those people set up to be a support. Being open with your supervisor about what you need to be effective in your position is important. If you feel there is too much on your plate, seek the help and input of your supervisor for possible ways to delegate your responsibilities. If you find you have no support within your organization; create your own! Find someone either within or outside of your organization who you admire and ask them to be a mentor to you. It’s always nice to have someone with whom you can share your aspirations as well as frustrations.
Build in a guilty pleasure….mine used to be running (I’ve discovered that you can’t run too effectively when the ground is covered with snow and ice). While I still love to run, during the winter months I’ve shifted my guilty pleasure to conditioner….yes, I deep condition my hair…don’t judge me!
Stay organized. For those of you who struggle with organization like me, it may help to actually build in a day devoted entirely to organizing and catching up. This not only allows you to recap both what you’ve accomplished during the week and what you want to accomplish next week, it also helps with planning and keeping track of dates and information.
What are some of your strategies for beating the blues in winter? Share them with us here at Volunteer Maryland!