We know how it is these days: an unending stream of stressful bad news in the world. This can feel doubly so if you work for a nonprofit dealing with disaster relief, or trying to organize your #GivingDay for November, or even just putting together school fundraisers now that we’re back in the season. It all adds up to feeling the strain and burnout that can come with trying to do good work in a world that seems pretty harsh these days.
So the big question: Have you been putting aside enough time for self-care?
If your schedule is busy with fundraising events – whether you’re attending them or organizing them – you’re probably putting your own well-being last. Add that to constant issues throughout the globe (which you’re frequently reminded about through your ever-present smartphone) and it’s no wonder that so many of us aren’t making self-care a priority.
Here are five handy tips for making sure you’re taking care of yourself during busy and stressful times – because remember, doing good work is important but you’re important too!
Make sure you get enough sleep
You may think that you can get by on just a few hours of sleep – in fact, you pride yourself on it – but this is doing you a lot more harm than good. Your body needs the chance to rest and recharge, not to mention heal up, bolster your immune system (have you noticed you’ve been getting sick a lot lately? This could be the cause), and be ready to go the next day.
If you’re finding yourself tossing and turning, constantly thinking about what you need to get done the next day, try writing a to-do list before you go to bed to get your mind off more pressing matters.
Also, make sure get your eyeballs away from any glowing screens for at least an hour before bedtime – the bright lights confuse your body’s circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep. (If you really must use your smartphone, check and see if it has a “night mode” setting to lower the screen’s brightness.)
Exercise is vital
Are you stuck at your desk all day? Do you commute to work and commute home again with little movement in between? This could be sapping your energy and leaving you sluggish.
Even if you can’t make time to hit the gym, be sure to incorporate a small bit of exercise into your daily routine every day, whether it’s walking to and from the bus stop or taking the stairs at work. Try having a “walking meeting” rather than sitting in a boardroom, or get out and spend your lunch hour running errands.
As a bonus, getting moving can help eliminate the “foggy brain” that blocks your concentration. So next time you find yourself mindlessly staring at your computer screen, trying to figure out which email appeal you need to send to your donors, try getting up and walking around for a bit – especially outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air.
Eat healthy – and drink water
We’ve all heard the advice – skip the fast food, especially if you want something to help charge your brain and keep you going strong throughout the day. But after a long morning of putting out fires in your inbox and running conference calls, sometimes you just don’t crave a salad. Nor did you have the time the night before to put together and pack a decent lunch for yourself.
Combine this with office snacks or donuts in the break room and you have the recipe for willpower disaster. (It’s especially hard to eat healthy if you’re sleep-deprived at the same time, because your body will crave things like simple carbs and sugar to keep you going.)
The solution here is to make sure that you at least get some fresh, healthy food into you a few times daily – think raw vegetables or fruit as snacks, along with nuts for some brain food – and also, drink a lot of water. Not only does staying hydrated help curb cravings, but it’ll get you up and moving (to the bathroom!) multiple times throughout the day. There are even apps to remind you (check #7!).
Upgrade your work environment
Since you’re spending so much time in the office, why not make it a more comfortable environment? Surround your desk with softer lighting (maybe try a light therapy device), get some plants to take care of, and make sure your desk setup is ergonomic and good on your posture.
Plus, don’t discount the relaxing power of petting a cuddly animal. Many offices are now becoming dog-friendly, which means that – barring any severe allergies – it’s a big plus to bring a pooch in to the workplace. RecruitLoop even has a handy infographic proving why dogs should be allowed in the office! We have to say we definitely agree:
Everyone say hello to Bean, our shy little office pup today! pic.twitter.com/jJtaEOe8uR
— FrontStream (@FrontStream) August 9, 2017
Take a break
Overworking is a serious problem, and you might not even know you’re in the thick of it. You’re too swamped by work to enjoy any small successes your nonprofit may have, and you find yourself working late plus on weekends (and you’re letting vacation days slip through your fingers, too!).
The key here is to not be afraid to delegate tasks, and to step away every now and then to take a break. You won’t be doing anyone any good if you burn out without even taking notice of what you’re accomplishing. Take advantage of your weekends and holidays to relax – that’s what they’re there for, after all.
Your donors and staff may be counting on you, but it’s vital to remember that you need to take care of yourself as well. Even if it feels like the world’s not stopping fast enough for you to take a breath, make the time for self-care. It could be one of the best things you do for both your own health and the health of your nonprofit.