This week I was honored to teach a Happy Healthy Nonprofit Workshop at the 1440 Multiversity Nonprofit Service Week. This beautiful retreat center is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and offers professional development on a wide range of leadership, wellness, and other topics. This past week they opened up the campus to nonprofits and I was lucky enough to be part of the faculty to teach a workshop.
The photo was my classroom. The space is called the Cathedral because of its high ceilings. The behind the screen is beautiful scene of trees and an infinity pool. The space is flexible and can be set up in a variety ways. They also teach yoga and meditation classes in this room.
I taught a workshop for nonprofit professionals on self-care practices as well as how to bring a culture of well being into their nonprofit workplaces. Participants included executive directors and communications directors from a variety of nonprofits from the Bay Area and beyond.
One of the first exercises I do in the workshop is have participants take the “Nonprofit Passion Fatigue Burnout Assessment.” It helps participants become more self-aware of burnout symptoms and what level of burnout they may be experience. We identify four stages. Interestingly, burnout begins with passion and excitement. The next stage is passion waning, then onto passion challenged, and finally passion depleted where you are completely burned out. The idea is that you can bounce back in the earlier stages more easily than letting stress take it toll.
Usually, in my workshops, I see participants falling more in the second and third stages, passion waning and challenged. In this group, the majority of participants were in the early stages which is a good thing. I joked that class was over! But realistically, everyone needs to understand this and have their self-care plan and habits firmly in place, especially in the type of world we are living in.
Another part of the workshop, makes time for participants to begin to write a self-care plan for themselves, discussing the types of activities or habits they want to embrace. Interestingly enough, almost everyone in this workshop had already put themselves on a “news diet.” I was surprised because we did have a number of communications directors who need to follow the news as part of their jobs and their nonprofits were working on different policies being impacted by current presidential decisions.
One communications director shared that she scans the headlines every morning and only goes deep into stories that are relevant to their communications strategy and limits her time. She also taken off all breaking news alerts and only consumes news from a handful of vetted sources. She is also very mindful while reading the news to monitor her reactions and emotions. It does not mean that does not care about the issues, but has had to adopt this approach because over consumption has lead to a lot of stress.
In the last few weeks, we have been pummeled with disturbing headlines about the current events. We’ve had weather disasters, policy changes, protests, racism, missile testing, and more. And, if you like many Americans who get their news from social media the constant flow of bad news and reactions from friends can amplify our stress. Here’s a humorous take on this from the New Yorker.
The solution? This recent article from Mindful, “Three Ways to Unhook from the News and Stay Informed” has some really useful information. It boils down to:
- Go on a news diet: Identify your trusted news sources and consume news at specific times of the day or the week, not throughout the day or evening. If you are concerned that not being always on top of breaking news will somehow lead to political inaction or that you don’t care, carve out time for your political action.
- A News Meditation: This is the practice of cultivating awareness of the emotions and thoughts that surface while learning about the latest catastrophic weather event or presidential tweet. It can also help you navigate heated political discussion with family members and others.
- A News Inquiry: The big idea here is that when you question your stressful thoughts – asking “is it true?” – or when you turn around the beliefs you see as true, you shift to a bigger perspective and feel greater peace and openness.
These are just a few ideas.
How are you balancing your need to be informed, take action, and practice self-care? How is your nonprofit handling this in the workplace? If you are a communications director and have to follow the news, how do you do it in a way that does not create stress and burnout?