Anything to Keep the Spirits Up

Paraguayan flagsWhen you have the slumps you’ll do anything to get your spirits up. Everyone has had days, or weeks, or months that are gloomy, but in the Peace Corps that gloom can seem magnified.

So, being a volunteer I have a long list of things I can do to keep my spirits up. Some of my most common techniques include:

  • Make a victory wall. It’s exactly like what it sounds: a wall with a label saying “victories” and with post it notes or small papers stuck to it. Each note describes a victory.
  • Do exercise. Is the body a reflection of the mind or the mind a reflection of the body?
  • Write in a journal. The lovely thing about a journal is you can write all those things you can’t say. We all have things we can’t say either because we know that in a little while we won’t feel that way anymore (so it’s not worth playing with matches on the bridge) or because we need to keep up appearances (a buzzword among Paraguayans is “respect”). Journals are also a good way to keep track of what you are doing, so you can look back and realize how much you’ve actually done.
  • Listen to music, read, or watch movies. Something in your native tongue can be amazingly calming.
  • Talk to friends from the States. Maybe family, friends back home, or other volunteers.
  • Get out the door. Getting out of your house to do anything. Sometimes the fog will lift as soon as you take that first step.
  • Visit favorite families. Paraguayans are really friendly and welcoming. I know that when I visit the families I like most I’ll be told I’m guapa, given a snack, and probably have a nice conversation about what’s happening in the community.