Tips To Take Care of Yourself

Vol. 11 No. 3

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As Development Director, your duties are in full swing—annual campaign, volunteer training, event management, year-end giving campaign around the corner, donor cultivation and stewardship, maybe even a capital campaign to boot. With all that activity, its amazing you have time to breathe, let alone take time to take care of yourself. But it’s important to give yourself permission to see to your own needs. Don’t collapse under all the pressure! Here’s a few ideas to help you balance.

Keep a journal. Journaling helps you get your thoughts and feelings out so you won’t bottle them up. You shouldn’t just record the event, but also write about your feelings around the event. By writing it down, you can clarify your thoughts, and you can learn things about yourself and the situation, according to Elisabeth Scott, wellness coach, health educator, and author. “It’s a good problem-solving tool; oftentimes, one can hash out a problem and come up with solutions more easily on paper,” she wrote, in The Benefits of Journaling for Stress Management on About.com.

Take a deep breath. You’ve heard this time and time again, but how often have you taken deep breaths from your diaphragm for a calming release? “Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you relax almost instantly,” says Robert Cooper, Ph.D, coauthor of The Power of 5, a book about five-second and five-minute health tips. Here’s how: Put your hand on your abdomen below the navel. Inhale slowly—your hand will move out as your belly expands. Hold your breath for several seconds then exhale slowly. Repeat this a few times. Read more of Dr. Cooper’s tips—and others—in 37 Stress Management Tips from Reader’s Digest.

Go for a walk. Just getting out in the fresh air and working your muscles for a few minutes is a stress reducer. First, walking lets you physically “walk away” from your stressors. A certified marathon coach and walking enthusiast, Wendy Baumgardner notes that stress causes muscles to tense up. Walking in a correct posture helps to unknot the muscles and get them working. Plus, you get calorie-busting exercise, and help lowering blood pressure (you know how stress can spike that!). For more of Wendy’s tips, check out Walking Away Stress.

Have some fun! No, you don’t need to go out to a comedy club. Something as small as just maintaining a sense of humor will allow you to cope with stressful situations better. Elizabeth Scott says that “having a sense of humor about life’s difficulties can provide a way to bond with others, look at things in a different way normalize your experience, and jeep things from appearing too overwhelming or scary.” She prescribes an exercise to help, that includes starting with a smile and taking a step back from the situation—and having a “funny buddy”! Check out Maintain a Sense of Humor.

Take time for professional development. Scheduling some professional development time will give you a chance to learn something knew to benefit your school and your career. Just as important, you will spend time with your peers, sharing issues and solutions. You will find out “you are not alone.”

Additional ISM resources of interest
ISM Workshops: Personal Leadership for the 21st Century School, January 16-18, and Professional Leadership for the 21st Century School, January 19-20, 2013, in San Francisco.
ISM Monthly Update for Business Officers Vol. 9 No. 2 Managing Stress 101
ISM Monthly Update for Business Officers Vol. 10 No. 2 Learn to Relax Now to Avoid Future Long-Term Disability

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