Stay Centered: 3 Mindfulness Tips for Nonprofit Professionals

Stay Centered: 3 Mindfulness Tips for Nonprofit Professionals

As a nonprofit professional, you’re used to learning from others in the sector. For example, you might try a text-to-give campaign after witnessing another nonprofit’s success with that idea. But what about when it comes to alleviating workplace stress?

Although you’re working to further a good cause, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to the stress of being a working professional. However, stress and burnout are sorely overlooked issues in the nonprofit industry.

To mitigate stress in the workplace, look to the business world. From business marketing techniques to stress-relief strategies, you can glean many valuable insights from companies that apply to the nonprofit sector. For example, consider the idea of mindfulness and its rise within corporations.

This guide will cover the concept of mindfulness as a way for nonprofit professionals to relieve stress. We’ll discuss the basics of mindfulness and three tips for how to center mindfulness at work.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness has a few different definitions, but it generally refers to a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. It’s a therapeutic technique where the practicing individual calmly acknowledges and accepts their current feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Numerous studies have been done on mindfulness, even as early as 1982. These studies have found that practicing mindfulness brings a variety of benefits, including better stress management, reduced anxiety and depression, increased ability to relax, and improved self-esteem.

Nonprofit professionals often lack the mental health support system that businesses have, solely due to budgetary reasons. Instead of and in addition to these systems, mindfulness is a great way to take your work health into your own hands.

Mindfulness Tips to Stay Centered for Nonprofit Professionals

Practicing mindfulness is easier said than done. That’s why we’re giving you three actionable, mindfulness tips to help you implement this practice in your life. Let’s dive in!

1. Stay present in your work.

When juggling multiple tasks, as nonprofit professionals often do, staying present in your work is difficult. You might get trapped in your head, losing touch with your body as you fret about the future.

One of the core tenets of mindfulness is being present. Here are a few suggestions to help you stay in the moment as you work:

  • Work on one task at a time. Although you may feel pressured to multitask during your workday, studies have found that only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively, reducing productivity by as much as 40%. Keep yourself focused and productive by working on only one task at a time.
  • Keep a time journal. Record in a journal what you’ve accomplished in a set block of time. This allows you to reflect on the work you’ve done and mindfully determine when your most productive times are. In the future, you can save your most difficult or important tasks for those periods and evaluate how and why you feel increased productivity.
  • Perform breathing exercises. Much of modern work occurs online, making it easy for nonprofit professionals to get stuck in their heads. Take a moment and reconnect with your body by performing some breathing exercises. This is particularly helpful if you feel stressed or overwhelmed, as it allows you to ground yourself in the present rather than worrying about the future.
  • Reduce distractions. Although you may be waiting on emails from fundraising event sponsors or major donors, you may have other work to do while you wait. Eliminate the urge to check your inbox every minute and minimize any other potential distractions. For example, you could close your email and only open it after you’ve completed a task. Or, if you’re finding your corner of the office loud, consider investing in noise-canceling headphones.

Remember that it’s important to be physically and mentally present. Continually evaluate how you feel and take steps to improve mindfulness in those areas. For example, if you’re feeling physical symptoms such as headaches or muscle aches, consider what steps you can take to alleviate them.

Perhaps your body wants a little more activity in the day. In that case, you might purchase a standing desk and a walking desk pad. Or, if your symptoms are stress-related, you could book a massage instead. MassageBook advises checking with your health insurance if you’re worried about the cost. Some providers cover the cost of massages, making it much more affordable for you to care for your physical well-being.

2. Effectively manage your work time.

It’s not enough to reduce the symptoms of work stress—you also need to address the root causes. As you continue practicing mindfulness, keep track of and evaluate the moments you feel most stressed at work.

One of the most common stressors at work comes from mismanaged work time. Here are a few strategies you can try to manage your schedule effectively:

  • Set realistic deadlines. All tasks have deadlines in some shape or form. Be realistic about how much work you can complete in a single day to set realistic deadlines for your tasks. For example, if you need to create a nonprofit video for social media but you’ve never dealt with video editing before, give yourself ample time to get familiar with all the tools you’ll be using. 
  • Establish daily priorities. Choose a daily priority to decide which tasks to work on each day. This should be the most important or urgent task you must attend to first. By doing so, you’ll ensure that you complete your most important duties first.
  • Pick a time management system. If you have trouble focusing on a single task, pick a time management system to keep you on track. For example, you could schedule your day into different time blocks. Or, you could use a system like the Pomodoro Technique.

3. Establish a healthy work-life balance.

Regardless of how passionate you are about your work, you need to balance it with the rest of your life and needs to ensure that you stay healthy. Otherwise, you may fall victim to burnout and stop enjoying what you do for a living. Be mindful of that balance by constantly assessing your feelings and evaluating if you need to change your routine.

If you’ve determined that you need to reclaim some time for yourself, here are a few starting steps to establish a healthy work-life balance:

  • Take breaks. Take time to disconnect briefly so your mind can rest, then dive back into your work. Even five minutes of stretching or walking around can do wonders for your focus. On a larger scale, you should also take breaks from work by using your vacation time. This will allow you to recharge and return to work, ready for what awaits you.
  • Set boundaries with work. Work tends to expand to fill up the time you have available, so don’t give it the opportunity. Set firm and reasonable boundaries with your coworkers to ensure you have time for yourself. For example, you might say you’re unavailable to be contacted over the weekend or after 6 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Prioritize your health. As you continue to practice mindfulness, keep tabs on your physical health. Remember that you only have one body, so maintain it well. This means taking sick days if you’re not feeling well and taking time off to go to doctor and dentist appointments.

If, after investing in tools to manage your work time properly, you still have too much on your plate, it may be time to consider outsourcing your work. 

Should your nonprofit have the budget to accommodate this request, it can greatly reduce your workload and help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Working for a nonprofit organization doesn’t exempt you from stress. These mindfulness tips will make you more aware of your mental state and physical needs. As a result, you’ll be better equipped to tackle your responsibilities, contribute toward your nonprofit’s cause, and improve the lives of your beneficiaries. If you’ve been looking for a way to reduce your stress and become a more conscious worker, implement the tips we’ve outlined above!

The post Stay Centered: 3 Mindfulness Tips for Nonprofit Professionals appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

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