With the holidays right around the corner, we know that a very busy time of year is coming. Some of us may get some time off to spend with family and friends, but many of us may only have a few days, and some may not have any time off at all. Although it’s important that those of us in the nonprofit sector are working at our best and supporting our communities at this time of year, it’s also very important that we look after ourselves. Self-care for the nonprofit sector is particularly important as we’re caring for folks who need us to be at our best-selves. Also, burnout is a major issue for nonprofit sector workers, so looking after ourselves and our staff teams must be made a priority.
The good news is there are things we can do now to help protect our time, our health and our mental well-being before busyness and hectic professional and personal schedules get the better of us. Here are some suggestions;
Get Organized Now
Even if you’re not a person who uses list-making as a way to organize tasks, now is the time of year when you might want to try it. Not only does it feel very productive as we tick off our completed tasks, the process of writing a list helps to remember the things that need to be done, and also clears head-space so we may worry less about forgetting to accomplish certain tasks. Also, making good use of our calendars can help us feel more organized. Putting every little thing in there from parties to concerts to proposal deadlines, can help us better plan our time.
Get a Jump on Making Plans
During the holidays season we often want, or even just feel pressure to spend time with folks outside of our usual circle (University roommates, distant cousins, former work colleagues, etc.). Agreeing to a date a few weeks out means we’ll feel less pressure later when we’re scrambling to fit these folks into our schedule. We can determine who we’d like to see and reach out to plan with them now. There may also be folks we’d like to meet with professionally before the end of the year; funders, partners, other leaders, etc. Even if we won’t be seeing them until next month we can confirm our meeting now and tick it off our list.
Make a ‘Now until End of Year’ workplan
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to feel overwhelmed! Well, maybe that’s not completely true but it can feel very hectic. In order to stay on top of things at work we can create a mini-work plan that will carry us through to the end of the year. And if you’re a leader, your staff may be feeling the pressure, too. Bringing the staff team together to create a ‘Now Until the End of the Year’ workplan will help everyone sort out their priorities. If we come together to create a higher-level work plan, our staff teams can break down the priorities into goals they can tackle in the next 6 weeks. Leaders will have some pressure eased, and staff teams will feel more productive and looked after when the busiest time of year has been addressed and acknowledged by their leader, and they’ve taken ownership over managing their own work until the end of the year.
Be Ready to Say ‘NO’
We can’t do it all. If we try to do everything we’ll enjoy nothing. It’s a brutal holiday truth. While we’re tackling some of the tasks listed above, we may realize that we can’t get it all done; go to all the parties, prepare all the food, see all the people, complete all the tasks, etc. And even if we feel like we can, we may be burning ourselves out. So, we must be ruthless and say ‘no’ either to ourselves or to others. And it’s not helpful to feel bad about it. We just have to prioritize the things that are most important to us – professionally and personally – and put it into our schedules without overburdening ourselves. Then say ‘no’ to the rest. It is easier said than done, but prioritizing ourselves and ensuring that we can make it through this time of year with our mental and physical health intact is crucial.
Schedule Time for Yourself
Self-care is so important at this time of year. And, we may not get to it unless we actually schedule time for it, and put it into our calendars. Self-care is a very personal thing and will look different to everyone. It may be time alone – reading, taking a bath, going for a walk, getting a massage, etc., or it could be that we feel recharged when we spend time with friends or family. Whatever it is, make sure that when the self-care is over you feel refreshed, relaxed and invigorated. Self-care should not be draining or energy-sucking. It’s about you, and what makes you feel good.
Here are some articles about self-care and staying healthy through the holidays:
Do you have any tips that help you stay relaxed and organized around the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!
Until next time,
Tina de los Santos brings a diverse mix of nonprofit and business leadership to her role at PLC. Throughout her career she has been passionate about creating engaging learning experiences that support and inspire people’s professional and personal growth. Tina also owns a communications business that helps businesses and non profits engage their audience with compelling, story-based content. She looks after PLC’s e-learning and social media and looks forward to digitally connecting with leaders and aspiring leaders from Peel and beyond!