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A day-off, a cold drink, and a recharge

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

I took this picture below on a day-off I had while volunteering on the Greek island of Samos. I did crop it though. What you can't see are my milk white feet and a cold bottle of Greek beer, Alpha. Treating myself to a beer just triggers something in me that says "enjoy this, you earned it." For others, that comes from a cigarette or a meal or even just a piece of chocolate.

Of course these are all moderate rewards. Sometimes, when volunteering we might overindulge with the self-congratulatory rewards. For me, overindulging in alcohol on a day-off is something I've chatted about with tonnes of aid-workers and front line workers in Ireland and abroad.

We are aiming for a place where drinking alcohol can be balanced with good decision making, high performance standards, graceful representation of yourself and the organisation your representing when socialising (bad dancing allowed), and in the end, safety in the well-being of our friends. Here are three points I've jotted down:

Alcohol intensifies emotions

If you’re happy it can make you feel ecstatic. However, if you are a little down, it can make you feel really down in yourself. That’s why when volunteering in a challenging environment, we need to give alcohol more attention than in our ordinary lives. Simply because the range of emotions are greater.

How and how often

How you drink is every bit as important as how often you drink. Just think twice, and drink once.

Celebrate a victory or mourn a defeat responsibly. There is always something to toast to on your voluntary trip; a birthday, a departure, a job appointment. Try to be considerate when planning these occasions. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad, and sometimes there is bad news and rough days where you feel you may need a drink.

Enjoying your days-off sensibly

Obviously, we are all adults and no one can tell you what to do in your off-time. That said, the same way I can recommend a good restaurant or activity for a day-off, it's fair to recommend using your rest day to recharge the batteries. Or suggest that it's more useful than fuelling late nights with a bottled energy. An added bonus is it will make your first day back to work a lot more tolerable, too.

As humanitarians (ugh I still hate that word), we have a responsibility to look out for one another - even on our days off. This means keeping others in your thoughts when planning a day off. Some friends may not want to drink alcohol at all. Some may only want to drink. Look after both kinds of friends. And yourself.

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