Self-care Tips for Nonprofit Workers (Part 2)
Eight self-care suggestions meant to be somewhat generalized, modular, and customizable.
Self-care Tips for Nonprofit Workers (Part 2)
In the first part of this two-part article, we discussed why self-care is especially important to those who work in nonprofit, compassionate service workplaces. We also defined self-care and discussed why it's more than just "taking some time off for myself." Self-care must be a series of routines and activities that are prioritized and that occur even when you feel low or no stress.
So, what do you do during self-care? That is a set of very individualized choices. No one list of specific self-care activities could ever suit every person. Some people love hiking; others would rather die. For some, preparing and drinking a cup of tea can mitigate a week of high-stress work. Others may require a more elaborate diversion. Before we get to a list of suggested activities, let's discuss three things that are not strongly recommended for inclusion in a self-care routine.
1. Excessive alcohol use. Some people enjoy adult beverages to relax or unwind, but it is not recommended for self-care routines.
2. Excessive electronics. There is a time and place for social media, binge-watching TV, and long periods of video game play, but this too is not recommended for self-care.
3. Work. Many people employed at compassionate-care nonprofit organizations are highly devoted and passionate about their work, and they may even view bringing home some work as desirable. However, one of the objectives of self-care is to maintain a boundary between home life and work.
The following eight self-care suggestions are meant to be somewhat generalized, modular, and customizable.
1. Incorporate a daily component. Daily self-care can be as simple as a few minutes of meditation or a short session of yoga. Reading for enjoyment, preparing and partaking of special food or drink, taking a walk, a short nap, journaling or writing, or visiting with a friend or relative are good daily activities. Daily self-care can happen once per day, or you may plan several activities throughout the day. Establishing a set time or times each day is important because it will help you feel grounded and it will make life more predictable.
2. Incorporate a weekly component. Daily self-care activities set routines and rhythms. A weekly component is a chance to reward and reset yourself. Weekly self-care events are also a good time to connect socially. You might achieve this by doing the same thing every week, such as a regular game night, a date with a spouse or friend, or even working around the house or garden. Trying something different each week can be likewise rejuvenating by breaking routines and avoiding ruts, so seek out new places, experiences, and people.
3. Incorporate a monthly component. The monthly self-care event should involve some planning, and it may be a more elaborate or lengthy activity, such as an overnight trip or a major project at home. A monthly self-care event of a longer duration can be effectively used as "me time" (away from others), or a time to be with someone you want to meaningfully reconnect with.
4. Incorporate introspection and self-evaluation. Self-care can involve self-improvement and goal-setting, but it should not result in self-reproval or score-keeping behavior that might leave you feeling worse than before. Self-care introspection should involve questions like, "Have I taken care of myself over the past month?" "What changes can I make in the coming months to heal and stay healthy?"
5. Incorporate creativity. Having a creative outlet has been shown to mitigate everything from surgery to work stress to generalized anxiety. Expressing creativity can take many forms, including creative writing, sketching, painting, photography, pottery, knitting, cooking, baking, gardening, and music. All these and others can be satisfying activities, regardless of your skill level, and you can also invite creativity into your self-care by enjoying the art of others.
6. Incorporate growth. Learning new skills or branching out in personal interests can provide perspective to your outlook and help improve feelings of competence and confidence. Learning a new creative skill can also check two self-care boxes at once. Other ideas include learning a new language, cooking skill, home-improvement skill, or professional skill.
7. Incorporate other people. You should never use self-care as a means of isolating or separating oneself from others. It can be a fine line: sometimes alone time can serve your self-care needs, but humans benefit from a comfortable level of social contact, even if it's only an online chat or phone call with a friend. Gathering in groups for self-care activities can help meet your self-care needs while helping others meet theirs. Meeting new people is also highly therapeutic. (Note: Unfortunately, COVID-19 health advisories should be considered before meeting or gathering with other people.)
8. Incorporate your workplace. Most self-care advocates will say that you should not bring work into your self-care routine. The whole point is to focus on you. And that's absolutely correct. However, ask your workplace if it might set aside funding, time, or other resources to support your self-care routine and that of your co-workers. This might take the form of work-sponsored field trips, the use of company facilities, and even things like company-sponsored therapy or exercise programs. (Note: Unfortunately, COVID-19 health advisories should be considered before meeting or gathering with other people.)
Most importantly, as the term itself suggests, self-care should be about you, yourself. Avoid making self-care a burden or another objective you must hit. Regardless of this and other lists of suggested self-care activities, do the things you want to do, the things you are comfortable doing, and the things that bring you peace and wellness.