Blog Contributor: Jess Gouldethorpe, Program Manager at the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis and Board Member at YNPN St. Louis.
2017 feels like it started on the back of Usain Bolt in a 100-meter sprint! Most of us are already feeling burnout and “to do” list anxiety and stress. Last year was a difficult one for most of us nonprofit professionals and a lot of us vowed to start 2017 with a positive outlook.
But as the last few months have felt like a sprint, I am sure that many of us have already found ourselves eating lunch at our desk, answering emails while off the clock, and tackling projects on the weekend way too often. Most of us overachievers also volunteer outside of our normal 40-hour workweek and face the challenges of balancing our personal and work lives while managing the stress that is associated with the overcommitted workloads. And to add the icing on the cake, many of our nonprofit organizations may be facing major budget decreases in the wake of the new administration and its priorities. Talk about stress!
For the rest of 2017, I urge us all to practice self-care to achieve impact without burnout and to stay mentally healthy. Self-care is defined by the World Health Organization as:
Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman, the authors of The Happy Heathy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout, apply this to nonprofits on an organizational level. I had the chance to attend a session on self-care facilitated by Beth Kanter at the Americans for the Arts annual conference last year and found her to be a great self-care resource. If we are practicing good self-care habits on an individual level, our organizations will benefit in the long run.
Here are some simple tips on how to get your individual self-care strategy started:
1) First and foremost, I recommend reading of Beth and Aliza’s book mentioned above and to follow Beth Kanter’s blog.
2) I can’t stress this enough… get enough sleep. Moving through life like a zombie isn’t good for you or your work!
3) Fuel your body with healthy food! I am not saying you should go on some crazy diet, but I am recommending healthy eating habits like making sure you always have something green on your plate. That could mean spinach on your pizza! Good food gives you great energy!
4) Take some time during the day to move your body: go on a walk with your co-worker, try out Yoga with Adriene at the comfort of your home, visit the gym or go on a hike at one of our state parks.
5) Unplug. Give yourself some time away from the screens, you’ll be surprised at the feeling you get when you unplug. I implemented a “no Facebook on the weekends” rule last year and I had so much extra time for other things I enjoy.
6) Know your strengths. We tend to focus on all the things we “can’t do” and create negative images of ourselves. What we need to do is focus more on our strengths and use them daily.
7) Establish boundaries. Let your boss know that, although he/she might send you emails on the weekends, you only check emails during your 40-hour workweek and will check those weekend emails first thing Monday morning.
8) Read and print Vu Le’s Nonprofit Unicorn mantra!