If you’re like many nonprofit marketers I know, you’re all about making a positive impact in the world through your work. You take your job seriously and don’t mind getting hands-on and hands-in when needed – which happens a lot in our field.
We frequently find ourselves knee-deep in the hustle and bustle of our beloved mission-based organizations, balancing scarce resources and endless priorities. But this can be risky. Our mental well-being takes a hit, and we sometimes normalize the overwhelm, excusing unhealthy habits for the greater good. What we miss in doing this is that it doesn’t just harm us, but also those relying on our contributions.
Having been in this place before, more than once, I realize just how important it is for us to take some time to address this as individuals and as a collective. To truly serve our missions and industry, we must prioritize our health and resilience. It starts with stepping back, recognizing, tackling, and working to prevent future mental hurdles. Because when it comes down to it, our most valuable asset is our mental health.
Remember, if you find yourself really struggling, seeking help from qualified professionals is the smart first move.
Calling it Out: Know the Signs
Recognizing when you’re struggling mentally is the first step in recovery and rebounding. As a nonprofit marketer, it isn’t rare for us to encounter various challenges – from tight deadlines and competing priorities to limited resources. Just like any job, you might encounter unwanted pressure that builds up over time and takes a toll.
You want to keep an eye out for signs like constant fatigue, reduced motivation, higher irritability, or feelings of general overwhelm. You know when you’re just not feeling yourself. Take the time to pause and acknowledge these new sentiments and call them out. Your next step will be to commit to doing something about it because remaining here is anything but sustainable.
Addressing it Head On
Okay, so this part might sound cliché, but it is effective evergreen advice – if you’re going through a tough time mentally, remember you’re not alone. Seeking help isn’t admitting defeat; it’s an acknowledgment of your own limits. Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends at work, your supervisor, or a mental health professional. You’ll likely find that the nonprofit community is more supportive than most, and seeking assistance to overcome the challenges you face is not only acceptable but encouraged. I understand that being vulnerable can be tough, but try to identify your safe space and reach out for support.
Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that not all mental hiccups are the same. Sometimes, it could be burnout – feeling drained from work, which is tough in and of itself. Other times, it could be a deeper mental health issue.
If you’re constantly exhausted, experiencing mood swings, or feeling like things are way off, it might require extra attention. This is when considering a conversation with a mental health professional becomes important. They can help you understand what’s happening and guide you through it.
Stay Connected: Finding Safe Spaces and Building a Supportive Network
Establishing a support network with your peers or fellow members of the nonprofit community can provide valuable emotional support and can truly make a world of difference – it certainly did for me. Depending on what you’re facing, there are various avenues to explore for seeking solace and solidarity.
Sometimes, an after-work vent session with coworkers will fit the bill; other times, you may need more than that. In my journey to find sounding boards or just straight-up empathy, I’ve found online communities like Facebook groups useful, as well as leveraging my job’s employee assistance plans and relying on my circle of friends for support in real life. There are typically local nonprofit associations and professional groups that offer safe spaces to connect and share. Locally, we had “Young Nonprofit Professionals” groups and memberships with the “Center for Nonprofits” that were useful for finding a sense of community.
Additionally, if you’re seeking more specific or niche communities that resonate more with your unique experiences, you can find specialized groups tailored for various demographics, both locally and online. There are groups based on orientation, gender, job responsibilities, race – you name it. Take a look around and see what you can find. Connecting with these groups works wonders. A network of understanding souls is sometimes just a click away.
Prevention: Set Realistic Boundaries
As a passionate nonprofit marketer, it’s easy to dive into your work headfirst and forget about boundaries. However, learning to say ‘no’ when you’re stretched too thin is essential for avoiding these undesirable moments of mental crisis in the first place. Understand that you can’t do it all, and that’s okay. Prioritize tasks, delegate when possible, and communicate openly with your team about your workload. By setting realistic boundaries, you’ll prevent burnout and maintain a healthier work-life balance.
Looking Out for Yourself: Have Your Own Back!
Burnout and other mental health concerns can sneak up on us when we aren’t paying attention. Incorporate self-care practices into your daily routine – even if it’s just for a few minutes. Taking those short walks, a few minutes of that mindfulness app, or finally engaging in that hobby that you’ve been putting off might just make the difference you need. Whatever it is, incorporate something that will bring you joy. These are the things that are going to keep us balanced and where we need to be.
If we want to be great at what we do as nonprofit marketers hoping to leave a little good in this world, we’re going to have to ensure we are prioritizing our own selves while doing it.
When you pay attention to your mental health, reach out for help when things get tough, and make time for self-care, you’ll be in a better position to excel in your work and keep fueling the causes you believe in. Stay strong, stay resilient, and don’t forget to put your mental well-being at the top of your list!