Self-help in the corona crisis: Together instead of alone

Many people currently feel left alone with their problems, fears and fears. Self-help groups are there for you even in times of crisis

Clubs, community rooms, rooms of self-help groups: they all remain empty at the moment due to the corona. Nevertheless, nobody has to succumb to loneliness. Organizations offer opportunities for virtual exchange

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"Corona is obesity's best friend." Sabine Hacker, founder of the Munich self-help group "Obesity SHG Altperlach" knows what she is talking about: Sitting at home, not moving as usual and simply eating too much. "You quickly have a few pounds back on it." For people who have difficulty maintaining their weight or who are pathologically obese, staying at home is counterproductive.

Video conferencing sports

Two years ago, Sabine Hacker founded her self-help group. Since then, she and her colleagues have been fighting against obesity. Sport helps them a lot: Yoga on Mondays, swimming on Tuesdays, XXL Zumba and strength-coordination-conditioning training on Wednesdays, Pilates on Fridays and boxing workouts on Sundays - the range is wide. No wonder that the soul will soon be just as fit as the body.

And in times of Corona? Before her group members drifted into isolation, Sabine Hacker came up with something: "In addition to the regular online exchange, we now meet three times a week for sports via video conference in the living room at home in order to counteract the cancellation of sports by blocking sports facilities . "

Opportunity for those who don't like sports

The group leader has selected something suitable from a wide variety of online sports offers. And since then it has been said again: Yoga on Mondays, Zumba on Wednesdays, Pilates on Fridays. Of course you can't just swim. But there is a lot of online chatting. "We meet for a chat an hour in advance or we sometimes hang on to conversations until midnight," says Hacker.

The online offers have been well received: even members who were previously downright sports gruff are enthusiastically participating in the living room. The group founder is therefore considering making online offers even after the lockdown. And is happy about messages from her 30 active participants in the chat, such as "I'm looking forward to the next sore muscles!"

Just don't get lonely

Nevertheless, many people miss the personal exchange in the group. Like Edith-Maria, the founder of the self-help group "Emotional Health", in which people with psychological problems, compulsions, fears or depression meet.

"It's part of my routine that I see my group once a week in the Munich self-help center," she says. Here the members regularly exchange ideas about their mental well-being. Talking to people, listening, being listened to, just don't be lonely - that is currently more important than ever. "We have decided to hold a conference call twice a week," says Edith-Maria.

Compulsory washing due to hygiene regulations

The need for exchange is very great: about Corona, the fear of it, the consequences for each individual and about the measures that intervene in personal life. For many group members, the current situation means a return to habits and constraints that have long been overcome.

One participant, for example, had just successfully fought her compulsory washing, and now the hygiene regulations are causing the problem to flare up again. "As always, we try to see the problems from a different perspective together, and we can do that quite well over the phone," says Edith-Maria. She herself had to interrupt her therapy in the clinic because of the shutdown and now cope on her own. "

I've stuck a note on my computer warning me not to give in to my shopping addiction, "says the group founder.

But she also knows: "Anyone who has been through personal crises several times can cope with the Corona crisis more calmly". What she misses most is that the group can no longer go to the Greek together after the session: "Nothing beats eating and laughing together."

Living contribution to democracy

Klaus Grothe-Bortlik, Managing Director of the Self-Help Center Munich (SHZ), confirms: "It's nice to see how much energy there is in the groups, how people support one another and show solidarity with one another." Self-help groups are a living contribution to democracy. And so the SHZ offers a platform to all those who are committed to the diverse topics that people deal with - not only in times of crisis.

An offer that is actively used in and around Munich: Whether alcoholics anonymous, Munich fearful self-help, no bullying or Russian-speaking diabetics - there is hardly a topic from the areas of health, psyche, social affairs and migration that is not taken up in a self-help group. The participants encourage each other, find like-minded people, gain self-confidence and confidence.

Not a lonely path through the crisis

Even if the group rooms of the self-help center are currently empty and no rounds of talks, self-help round tables, further training and personal advice are allowed: The around 1300 self-help groups in and around Munich are also active during the corona pandemic, and advice and mediation are provided by the self-help center further.

This task is more important than ever: people with chronic diseases belong to the high-risk group and have more questions about protecting their health. In addition, mental and physical illnesses can worsen due to the exit restrictions - for example because the sick have less exercise or the isolation is psychologically stressful for them.

But self-help is practiced in recognizing what is special as normal. And the way through the crisis does not have to be lonely, despite contact bans and exit restrictions. Grothe-Bortlik: "Self-help makes our society a little more humane overall."