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Last updated January 12, 2017

Working in and for the community is one of the toughest jobs around. Sure it can be immensely rewarding, but it can also be littered with crisis and emotionally exhausting. If you want any chance of staying around for the long haul, you need to actively take care of yourself – and I’m not necessarily talking about long walks on the beach. Take a look at these simple strategies for looking after yourself at work.

  1. Keep every nice email you receive.
    People are quick to complain and it’s easy to feel like that’s all anyone ever does. By keeping the compliments, you can look back on them whenever you need a pick-me-up. It’s a great way to remind yourself why you stick at it when the going is tough.
  1. Get yourself a good chair (as in the piece of furniture, not the head of your Board, although that would make a difference too!)
    If you spend most of your time at a desk, you deserve to have a chair that properly supports you. Splash out. A good quality chair is worth the investment.
  1. Take your tea breaks.
    Every day. Every time.
  1. Eat lunch away from your desk.
    Scoffing down a sandwich while you try to finish a funding application is not lunch. Treat lunch-time as daily date with yourself and be creative with what you eat. Before you know it, lunch-time will become a mini-adventure and a luxury escape in the middle of the day.
  1. Don’t be a martyr.
    If you’re sick, take a sick day. That’s what they are there for.
  1. Walk to work.
    Not only is the exercise good for you, it allows time for you to let go of the morning hassles before you get to the office. You’ll enjoy being at work a whole lot more.
  1. Remind yourself how lucky you are.
    When the going gets tough, it’s easy to feel like you have the worst job in the world, so make a list of all the things you enjoy about your job and post them on your wall. Whenever you feel like giving up, read through the list.
  1. Keep a bottle of water on your desk.
    You’re more likely to stay hydrated if it’s right in front of you and in a measured quantity.
  1. Take your holidays.
    You will be far more productive when you return.
  1. Open the windows.
    I know it sounds simplistic, but opening the windows literally provides a breath of fresh air.
  1. Avoid negative people.
    If you have an office complainer, take active steps to stay out of their way. Negative attitude is contagious and before you know it, you’ll be as grumpy as they are.
  1. Be realistic with yourself.
    Just because something needs to be done, doesn’t mean it needs to be done today. Learn how to prioritise.
  1. Connect
    Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, human face-to-face connection is important. If you are in a role where you spend a lot of time on your own, set regular appointments to connect with people outside of the office. Take a donor out for lunch, visit a volunteer to say thanks or call in on one of your programmes to remind yourself why you do what you do.
  1. Learn something new on a regular basis.
    The quickest way to feel bored and frustrated is to get stuck in a rut. Attend a non-profit networking group, get a mentor or book in for some workshops. One gem of wisdom can put you on a new track and completely change your emotional outlook.
  1. Deal with personal issues immediately.
    If something is bothering you, address it with the person concerned as soon as you can. The longer you leave it, the more energy it will take from you.
  1. Set boundaries.
    Have one or two ‘rules to live by’ that you simply won’t break. It might be as simple as I will not work on a Saturday, or I will take a lunch break every day. Whatever it is, set it and stick to it. It is much easier to stay true to your resolve 100% of the time, than 99% of the time.
  1. Know what inspires you and put it in front of your face.
    It might be pictures, quotes, photographs, flowers – whatever it is, create a pin board full of all the things that keep you motivated and inspired. Look at it daily.
  1. Be aware of your breathing.
    If you take time to consciously monitor your breath, you’ll instantly know what to do to make it better. The power is in the noticing.
  1. Tell your colleagues how much you appreciate them.
    When you work in a frantic environment it’s really easy to get caught up focussing on your own stuff, and before you know it, everyone feels taken for granted and unappreciated. By making a conscious effort to show your appreciation for others, you’re setting the scene for others to show how much they appreciate you.
  1. Keep clutter-free.
    Mess on your desk makes mess in your head. Allocate time every week to clear the clutter.

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