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Last updated March 3, 2015

Self-care is important for everyone, but when you work in the non-profit sector it’s even more essential. Whether you’re on the front lines or working behind the scenes, the non-profit sector is all about give, give, give. You need to make time, and take time, to look after yourself.

Check out these simple tips for practicing self-care:

1. Know Your Body Clock
Every body has times when they are at their best and being their most productive. (For me it’s between 8am – 1pm – after that I get pretty foggy!) Instead of slogging it out and trying to use every minute to get jobs done, try scheduling some down-time when your production levels are usually low anyway. Taking a walk, having a massage or reading book will not only make you feel better, you’ll come back more productive as a result.

2. Have a Change of Scenery
Once a week take your laptop to the park, beach or local coffee shop and do your work in a new environment. A change of scenery is good for the soul – even if you do have your laptop in hand.

3. Practice saying “I’ll have to get back to you on that”
One of the biggest reasons people give for neglecting self-care, is that they are too busy. And usually they are too busy because they are looking after everyone else!

Next time someone asks you to do something, simply say “I’ll have to get back to you on that”. It’s easier than saying No, and it gives you time to think about what you really want to do. Often by delaying a response, the job gets done by someone else in the meantime.

4. Exercise!
I know, I know, I know. If you’re not normally an exercise bunny, then simply thinking about exercise feels like hard work. (Trust me I hear you!) But if you can drag yourself up for a 10 minute walk, it is definitely worth the effort. The hardest part is always the ‘getting started’, so try to build it into your normal routine. Park a little farther away from the office, get off the bus a couple of stops early or walk up to the dairy to get the milk. It’s amazing how all those baby steps add up.

5. Get a Buddy
If you know you struggle to make time for self-care, get yourself a buddy and make weekly self-care appointments together. One week it might be going for a walk, the next it might be a coffee date and so on. If you’re committed to helping someone else take time-out, you are more likely to follow through.

6. Make Use of the Drive
Instead of using drive-time to catch-up on phone calls (hands-free of course), use it to nourish your soul. Play your favourite music, get some audio books or listen to some inspirational speeches from great leaders. You can buy all sorts of awesome tracks on i-tunes, so get creative.

7. Create a Culture of Self-Care
Make self-care a part of what you do in the office. Organise a mobile massage therapist, have fortnightly high-teas as a team, and actively remind people to take breaks. If we want people to be comfortable looking after themselves, we need to let them know it’s okay to do so. Stop rewarding the work-aholics and create a culture of self-care instead.

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