It’s December Already?!

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The holiday season is supposed to be about joy, celebration, and spending time with loved ones. However, for nonprofit professionals and educators, this time of year can be extra stressful and challenging. The holidays can shine a spotlight on the struggles of the people we’re trying to help and seeing so much need can be overwhelming. In the midst of our dedication to serving others, it is crucial that we prioritize self-care. To help you through the season, we thought we’d share some of our practical tips for managing self-care and holiday stress.

Managing Burnout

We work tirelessly to meet the needs of our communities, which can lead to burnout. The holiday season tends to bring added pressure and demands, whether we’re organizing holiday events, managing end-of-year tasks, or emotionally exhausted from the heightened needs of our constituents. Engaging in self-care practices is important to recharge and prevent burnout. Taking breaks, setting boundaries, and practicing stress-reducing activities like meditation or exercise can help maintain mental and emotional well-being. In a perfect world, we’d all be doing these things regularly, but let’s be honest, do-gooders are the actual worst at taking care of ourselves. So here are a couple of suggestions for some great micro self-care practices we find effective for the holiday season.

Whether you find the time and energy to actually run holiday errands and shop in brick-and-mortar stores or order everything on Cyber Monday and wait for it to show up on your doorstep (like I do), be sure to grab a few extra ornaments, the cheaper and more fragile, the better. Do not procure shatterproof. On the really frustrating days between now and the New Year, take out an ornament or two and smash it with a hammer. Instant gratification.

Don’t have time for a yoga class? Too cold to go for a run? Snuggle up on the couch with some hot chocolate and a warm blanket and watch a Hallmark movie. Yes, they’re terrible. But at the end, you can be grateful that writing those things has to, in fact, be worse than writing a federal grant proposal.

Nurturing Personal Relationships

The holiday season emphasizes the importance of spending time with loved ones, but nonprofit professionals and educators may find it challenging to balance work commitments with personal relationships. Prioritizing self-care during this time creates a healthy work-life balance and we should devote quality time to family and friends. We find it most efficient to gather everyone together at once, family, friends, even colleagues, erect a Festivus pole, and ensure none of these folks will speak to us again for the rest of the year.

Enhancing Productivity and Effectiveness

Speaking of efficiency, self-care is often mistakenly viewed as selfish or indulgent, but in reality, it is an investment in one's professional effectiveness and something we must make time for. While taking time for self-care activities, such as exercise, adequate sleep, and hobbies, can improve focus, concentration, and overall cognitive functioning, by the end of the year, we’ve probably shirked all of these things enough to ensure that the cognitive functioning ceased last quarter. Our most effective strategy for recouping our lost ability to brain this time of year is to ensure that as many of our meetings as possible are virtual, on mute, camera off. During every third meeting, we take a nap. If anyone notices, our internet was “unstable.”

Cultivating Resilience

The holiday season can bring unique challenges for nonprofit professionals and educators, such as increased demands, limited resources, and heightened emotions from those they serve. Self-care plays a crucial role in building resilience, allowing individuals to bounce back from setbacks and navigate stressful situations with greater ease. Engaging in self-care practices, such as whacking ornaments with a hammer, airing our grievances, and locking ourselves in the bathroom for a few minutes of quiet doom-scrolling, can help us maintain a positive outlook or at least keep our slipping grip on surviving the season.

We hope you’ve gotten at least one good chuckle out of our take on self-care for the holiday season. At the end of the day, the best most of us can hope is to keep our sense of humor and get through it. Laughter is the best medicine and we hope you’ve gotten a little dose. Hang in there!

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