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Self-care for nonprofit staff during the holiday season

At every meeting I've attended in the past few weeks, I have encountered people who are tired, burned out, and desperately waiting for the end of the year to finally take a break. While the holiday season is often regarded as a time for joy, relaxation, and celebration, for those working in the nonprofit sector, the demands of the job can amplify stress during this time. Juggling responsibilities, donor expectations, and the constant drive to make a difference can take a toll on mental and physical well-being. 

It's crucial for nonprofit staff to prioritise self-care to navigate the holidays while ensuring they recharge for the challenges ahead. While it may feel like you don’t have the time to relax even for a moment, you’ll likely get even less accomplished if you are stressed, emotionally exhausted or burned out. So, here are some ideas to help you recover and rejuvenate over the holidays:

Establish boundaries

We are all in need of a break from being constantly available on our phones, WhatsApp, email, and those dreaded Teams calls! Set boundaries between work and personal life. Disconnecting from work emails and calls during off-hours allows for relaxation and quality time with loved ones, or some time alone. 

Practice mindfulness and meditation

Take moments throughout the day to practice mindfulness and meditation. Simple breathing exercises or brief meditation sessions can significantly reduce stress levels, enhancing focus and clarity.

Schedule time off

Make use of your leave days or take planned time off during the holidays. It's essential to step away from work, allowing yourself to rest, recharge, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

Engage in activities that you enjoy

Take the time to rediscover activities or hobbies that bring happiness and relaxation. Whether it's reading a book, cooking, making a craft, spending time outdoors, or engaging in creative pursuits, doing what brings joy is essential to help restore some balance.

Connect with support systems

Stay connected with friends, family, and support networks. Sharing thoughts and experiences with others fosters a sense of belonging and provides emotional support, relieving stress and promoting well-being -- and can encourage others to do the same.

Reflect and set intentions

Reflect on achievements and milestones reached throughout the year. Set intentions and goals for the upcoming year, allowing for a sense of purpose and direction in both personal and professional life.

Plan for a positive return

Before returning to work after the holidays, create a plan that includes strategies for maintaining self-care practices. Implementing routines and boundaries will ensure continued well-being even during busy periods.

As dedicated individuals committed to making a difference, taking care of yourself is paramount for sustained impact in the nonprofit sector. This can help you navigate the holiday season with resilience, returning to work refreshed, energised, and ready to create positive change in the world.

Seek professional help if needed

If stress becomes overwhelming or affects mental health, seeking professional help is crucial. NPOwer offer a FREE NPO Mental Health Support Programme and 24-hour toll-free Helpline. Their free mental health care and support services are available to to all NPOs, NPO leaders, staff and volunteers.
NPOwer Helpline

Ruen Govinder

Founder and Executive Director, Hashtag Nonprofit

Ruen Govinder is the founder and director of Hashtag Nonprofit. She has over 20 years of experience in consulting and managing online communications and technology for the development sector. She produced a series of e-books on communications strategies for nonprofits, and has worked with clients across Africa and in the United States.

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