Every now and again we like to share a blog post to revisit our thoughts on the buzzwords: “self-care.” And as I construct this iteration, I want to shine a light on two important truths right out of the gate: First, many of us (myself included) are better at talking about self-care than practicing it. And second, that is 100% okay because that is exactly what self-care is: a practice. Self-care at its foundation is more than massages and comp days after a long effort of preparing for and executing an event, campaign, etc. Self-care is putting ongoing measures and gauges in place to balance your internal needs vs. external outputs. It is consistent self-reflection amidst the daily commitment to our work. It is a reminder that our worth is not measured by our stress level and that, as the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”
So, what tips and advice do we have in terms of self-care for event and non-profit professionals that have less to do with recouping afterwards and more to do with an ongoing practice in a field where so many of us love to give so much of ourselves?
The best place to start is setting boundaries. Ah, boundaries … another buzzword that some truly excel at, and others fall under the “needs improvement” category (again, hand raised over here). But we really can do it, and we should. Boundaries give us the framework from which our values, limits and talents are honored. If you fear whether your dedication will be questioned if you set a boundary, take a pause for some perspective: You are on the team because of your unique talents and skills, not because you need to do it at all hours of the day. There is a team to support you. Not one person can do everything, nor should they. Clearly identifying what is and is not your responsibility and where your limits are does not make you less of a team player or any less good at your job. It honors your talents and maintains the energy you need for the responsibilities that are yours to own. And remember that asking for help is a form of self-care!
Boundaries can take the form of time limits on your work hours and your email or phone call response time. Most things can wait. If you’ve shut your computer for the day and an email or work text comes through your phone, take a beat and ask if it is truly urgent to respond right in that moment. Are you honoring your boundary if you respond right away, and does the feeling of “checking that box” outweigh the long-term benefit of shutting off work for the day? Better yet, consider turning off email notifications on your phone so you are not tempted to respond after work hours or when you are taking time off of work so that you are not feeling pressured to respond. Additionally, consider discussing with your team when emails would best be sent. For example, any non-urgent emails can be scheduled for delayed delivery to be sent during official work hours only.
When we feel as connected to our work as we do, it can be truly challenging to cultivate a culture of boundary-setting and boundary-honoring. But you can help make change by starting with yourself. If you need support, get a boundary buddy — a colleague or peer that can check in with you on your self-care and boundaries, support you and help keep you accountable. Your well-being is 100% worth it, your work and long-term success will increase, and you will be part of the movement turning towards self-value, self-care and self-love.
Janelle Benuska has been with the Event 360 team in a variety of roles, currently bringing her passion for participant recruitment and support as an Account Director supporting the 5x5K FOR GOOD, Florida AIDS Walk, and AIDS Walk Atlanta.