Have you ever felt like taking your jet black, smells like gasoline Sharpie and writing “DO NOT DISTURB” on your office door? Gripping this tempting pen, you run through the many tasks you need to complete before the work day is over. Then this brilliant thought comes to mind, “I can take this home with me!” and you laugh as if you just concocted a plan to take over the world. The last sad detail of this story is that it happens every day. This sign of stress can turn into a mental “Out of Order” sign. The once taunting laugh turns into a sigh of exhaustion.
A nine-to-five job is not a reality in the nonprofit sector as social impact never sleeps. We never see the impact of our work listed as a line item on our financial documents. So does our well-written mission statement serve as our motivational mantra? Do thirty words make up for the missed hours of sleep or social exhaustion?
Compassion fatigue has swept our sector as we have been faced with one too many unmet expectations. The mission of each of our nonprofits does not deserve the lowering productivity rates that stem from compassion fatigue. Instead, we need to understand our stress and create new and healthy ways to combat it.
Here are a few solutions to Compassion Fatigue:
Take some time off in and out of the office.
When you find your day’s intensity level at a 10 (or even a 7), escape for 20 – 30 minutes. This time can be utilized to schedule items that you know you can control. Also sneak in some tasks that always yield a good, quick result like calling a donor and thanking them for all they do!
Do you have access to your Board of Directors?
If yes, find what each member’s talent is and include them in some of your work. This gives them a deeper connection to the organization and you gain their expertise.
Connect with a group of people who understand your struggles…hint hint.
YNPN Orlando is a great resource for professional development and connecting with people who know your stress all too well. We recently spoke with one of our members about this. Bene.fact is a local nonprofit that specializes in preventing compassion fatigue through observations and training courses for agencies in Central Florida.
Don’t allow yourself to reach the last stage of compassion fatigue with the hanging of an “Out of Order” sign. Use your Sharpie for good!
Written by: Elizabeth Kurtz, YNPN Membership Committee