If you read my last post, you know that understanding your own needs in supervision and your organization’s culture are significant factors in your success as a new nonprofit professional. In Part Two, you’ll learn the importance of self-awareness and self care in achieving your career goals.
You’ve started your new job and begun learning the organization’s policies and procedures. You’re beginning to understand how your position fits in with the mission you and your team are working to accomplish, addressing an important need in your community and the world. Changing the world is hard work, but you love what you do.
It can be challenging to know where work ends and your personal life begins, especially when the social problems you’re tackling are so big and change is so urgently needed. Sometimes your efforts can feel like a drop of water in the ocean.
Knowing how you feel is important. Check in with yourself regularly. Are you exhausted? Overwhelmed? Having trouble sleeping? Adding just one or two of these self-care strategies into your routine can make a big difference.
- Move your body daily. Whether you work out in a gym, run outside, take kickboxing classes, dance, walk during your lunch break or practice yoga, you can do something every day to move your body. You will feel much better.
- Get enough sleep. If you start your day well rested you’re more likely to make time for exercise – before, during or after work. You’ll have more energy and you’re more likely to choose foods which give you the strength to get through your day. When you’re exhausted comfort foods call your name and movement feels like a chore. However, if you miss out on sleep a workout can boost energy to help you make it through the day.
- Take time for mindfulness throughout your day. Mindfulness is intentionally being present in the moment. When your to-do list is a mile long your mind can spin into a frenzy. Taking just one minute to breathe deeply and notice how you feel can help your body and mind reset. There are several apps that can remind you to take a moment of mindfulness. Once you get used to it you can do it throughout the day to help you remain centered.
- Set boundaries between personal life and work. Take a lunch break. Come in on time and leave on time. Try to make a habit of doing things unrelated to work when you leave for the day.
- Make time for creativity. Saving the world can be deeply discouraging at times. Take that pain and make something of beauty – a poem, song, photograph, collage, painting, drawing – whatever you are moved to do. Creativity is a great outlet.
- Know when to seek professional help. Burnout can sneak up on you and when it does, it takes a great toll on your emotional health. Know when it is time to seek counseling from a licensed professional, ideally before you reach the point of burnout.
Laura Reagan, LCSW-C is a clinical social worker in private practice in Severna Park, Maryland. She is a 2010 graduate of the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She loves helping individuals and families connect authentically. Her website is: http://www.