Are you a nonprofit leader who's almost at the end of your rope this holiday season? Are you afraid of falling apart, burning out or losing it? I was there once too! As a nonprofit leader, you may resonate with my story.
Let me be honest for a moment. There were many years where I was not fond of Christmas. While raising four children and working full-time was challenging, the magnitude of "stuff" I dealt with during the holidays often put me over the top.
The Dangers of Mental Health Challenges for Nonprofit Senior Staff
Below is part of what I was dealing with at Christmas. Take a look at the following list of issues I was dealing with during most December months as I ran my nonprofit. Do any of these typical nonprofit challenges sound familiar to you?
It's no wonder I was a basket case by the time old St Nick had to put the presents under the tree!
I felt very much alone as a nonprofit leader!
While I knew everyone was struggling to a degree, I felt alone with my struggles. I didn't want to share my burdens with other people who seemed to be enjoying the holiday build-up, that is, if you could believe their social media posts. So I suffered alone for many years.
How often do you feel isolated and alone in your leadership role? Do you feel that you have to put on a smile and power through the last few days leading up to Christmas? I bet you are wondering: How can I reduce the stress for my team and me!
Let me tell you what I learned.
I wanted to change to feeling the joy and excitement of Christmas
Over the years, I learned to sit with my Christmas blues, my moody disposition and the crankiness I felt. Engaging in mindfulness, journaling and self-reflecting, I learned a lot about myself, what was preventing me from feeling the joy of the season and how to overcome it.
The truth is, we aren't alone! I bet you are feeling some of this, too, right now!
Many leaders in the nonprofit sector feel isolated - The Stats
A recent report from the Alberta Nonprofit Netwerk indicates an alarming statistic. They report that the biggest issue nonprofits face right now is staff mental health. That stat came before the holiday season!
Please note, when they say "staff," you're included in that group. Nonprofit leaders are struggling with their mental health too!
Stress has been building long before the pandemic hit. For example, the 2016 study from Peele Leadership in Ontario indicated that 92% of nonprofit leaders feel some degree of burnout. Ouch!
That's you and your team.
Add to that the Christmas season and continued stress over the pandemic.
Whatever else you've got going on, it's no wonder people are moody, stressed, and short with people or ready to head out on stress leave.
Worried About Staff Stress And Burnout? Four Ways Nonprofit Leaders Can Promote Resilience At Work
Dealing with the mental health of you and your nonprofit team this week doesn't have to be so challenging. So what can you do for your nonprofit team? Follow these steps with your team to fend off burnout.
First, pause and deal with your stress at this moment.
Practice Mindfulness 🙏🏻
Take a deep breath. Seriously just right now, take a slow deep breath. Focus on your breathing for just a moment and let your exhale be slightly longer than your inhale, as that's what helps you destress.
How do you encourage your team members to be mindful?
You can encourage your team members to be more mindful too. Start by slowing down the meetings and conversations. Begin them with a moment of silence, breathing or gratitude. Slow your breathing down to set the emotional pace of the meetings and calls. When you role model mindfulness to your employees, you create a safe space for them to practice it.
Second, talk to your team
Be honest about the stress, and rather than asking them how they're doing because we all know we'll see we're doing just fine, offer some options to support your team's mental health, including your own:
How can you encourage your employees to deal with their stress?
You allow your employees to deal more effectively with their building stress when you create a culture of psychological safety. By making it ok, being vulnerable yourself and responding with empathy, you permit your employees to deal with their stress effectively.
Finally, plant a seed for future change
Begin to think of how you can implement new strategies for reducing stress in the future. Don't "stress" about it now! Instead, please make a note to include it in the new year for discussion.
How do you create ongoing stress management strategies for your nonprofit team?
Deal with the ongoing stress of nonprofit life by creating a plan for stress management. Set this as an agenda item and keep it there. Bring in resources, share strategies and offer options for team members to deal with their stress. That way, you'll make it psychologically safe for them to bring up and address their own mental and physical wellness.
🎁 My gift to you and your nonprofit team🎁
Because I know you're struggling with asking for help or not, and so are your team members, I'm gifting you the following webinar: Stress Management for the Busy Lady Leader.
The more we can manage the season's stress for more and more people, the better we'll all be as a result!
🎁 Watch the FREE Webinar now 🎁
Leaders should be able to reduce stress effectively without much hard work or time.
⭐️ Watch the FREE WEBINAR: Stress Management for the Busy Nonprofit Leader
Frazzled, fried and fearful that you will drop the ball, mess up or fall apart?
That's not the way you want to lead or live your life!
Did you know that stress affects leaders differently than non-leaders? You bet it does!
In this webinar, you will learn 3 strategies for leaders to renew and recharge.
Watch now for free until December 31st!
🎁 Watch the FREE Webinar now 🎁
Last night my husband and I were sitting at the supper table, and the Christmas clock sang its carol at the top of the hour. I commented on how much I enjoyed hearing it throughout my day.
My husband looked at me. "That's so good to hear." he said, "You haven't gotten down this year!"
I smiled 😊and agreed!
This year is probably the first year in a very long time that I didn't get overwhelmed with sadness, loneliness or Christmas dread. It's been a journey and one I hope to pass on the lessons from to you and others!
While stress is a normal and even healthy part of life, it becomes a problem when it starts to deteriorate your mental and physical health! So tune in for some tips to manage your stress in the coming days!
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