Hi everyone, I am still in Vietnam. This was supposed to be a vacation, but I realize that I suck at vacationing. So I went on to the NAF Facebook community, made up of witty and attractive people, to ask for tips. The community did not disappoint! Over 500 comments came in within hours. I’ve highlighted a few below, in no particular order. If you are terrible at relaxing and recharging on vacation, perhaps some of these tips may help. Or not! Thank you to the colleagues who provided them, some while they were on vacation. With so many comments, it was hard to pick and choose, and many good comments were left out. Please check out the NAF FB page for the full thread (and add your own #NonprofitVacationTips on Twitter)Continue reading
I don’t write much about self-care, because to be honest I kind of suck at it. For example, it is Sunday night, and I am at my office working on this blog post. I just ate a peanut-butter cookie. That was my dinner. Then, the motion-activated office light turned off, so I stood up and waved my arms around to turn it back on…and got exhausted. Because I don’t exercise. Except maybe when a grant application is due and a colleague drives around the block and I run up to deliver the proposal package.
The worst part, though, is that when I do have some downtime, I can never relax. I get a weird sense of anxiety and guilt, like I need to be doing something productive instead of letting work pile up. I’m sure many of you can relate. So I brought this up to my executive coach. “I can’t relax!” I said, “My brain does not ever rest! It is always analyzing stuff and worrying! Even when I take a day off or am on vacation, it is constantly thinking about work!” I was expecting her to give advice like “You should do meditation to calm your brain, maybe use a mindfulness app, and can you please pay the last invoice?” Instead, she asked this question, “Growing up, did you your parents ever take a vacation?” Continue reading
This time, though, I am making a call to inaction. I am giving my team and myself the entire week of Christmas off. If your organization can do it, I strongly recommend you to do that as well (or some alternatives to that, as discussed below). Here are several reasons why: Continue reading
Donate to organizations on the ground. It feels horrible to read the news about people drinking out of creeks and children running out of food and not be able to do anything about it. But we CAN do something about it. Give cash! As much as you can! Here’s a bunch of orgs in Puerto Rico you can give to. And remember how much we all hate restricted funding? Make sure your donation is general operating so that these orgs can use it however would be most effective. Continue reading
On Friday I attended the Seattle chapter’s monthly ED Happy Hour. A bunch of EDs showed up and for four hours we all drank and laughed and stuffed our faces with sushi and discussed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and its parallels to nonprofit work. It was awesome, as usual, to get to hang out with my brilliant colleagues. At 9pm, as the group disbanded, we found out an ED was planning to head back to her office for a couple more hours of work. “What’s wrong with you?!” we hissed, pelting her with edamame shells, “Go home to your family!”
The majority of us in this sector, probably 90%, work ridiculous hours at very stressful jobs, and we really do need to take better care of ourselves, and our organizations as well as society need to do more to create supportive conditions—fair wages, adequate benefits, sufficient family leave and vacation time, a culture of learning and camaraderie, a working printer, two-ply toilet paper, etc.—so it’s not just our individual responsibility to ward off burnout.
There are plenty of thoughtful articles on these topics, such as this one by Beth Kanter called “How Can Nonprofits Switch from Scarcity to Abundance Mindsets When It Comes to Self-Care?” and this one by Mary Cahalane called “Your work or a life: A painful choice no one should have to make,” and this one by B. Loewe calling for “An End to Self-Care” (in favor of a more holistic “community care.”) I’ve also touched on this topic a few times, such as “7 self-care tips for nonprofit professionals” and “The courage for mediocrity: Why we nonprofit professionals need to give ourselves a break.”
This post today, though, is to bring some balance. In some ways, maybe because we talk so much about it, that self-care has become somewhat of a punchline to various jokes: “Hey, are you attending that breakfast gala of one of our partner organizations?” “Nope! Self-care!” “Hey, I heard you were asked to lead the diversity and inclusion committee?” “I declined. Self-care!” “Did you drink my bottle of Mike’s hard lemonade that I was saving for lunch?!” “Yup! Self-care!” Continue reading