Nonprofit organizations frequently hold large events: galas, golf outings, conferences, etc. If you’re like me, one of the folks who are responsible for managing such events, you know there is a certain amount of stress involved with getting these things off the ground.
I just finished up with our annual TechNow Conference and am still in the middle of reading Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman’s new book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, so thought it might be useful to reflect on how I take care of myself post-TechNow. I think everyone has different post-event strategies, but this has been mine for years.
- Take some time to reflect and celebrate. When you do a large event, other things in your life tend to get ignored for a bit. It’s tempting to rush right into the next thing(s) to get caught up, but I think it’s important to take a little time to reflect and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done before flying into the next task. This doesn’t have to take long, just sit and breathe for a bit and think about what you’ve just accomplished.
- Stay busy in the days just after the event, but not too busy. When I was in grad school, I would finish up with finals and not do much of anything for a few days afterwards (except for going to work, of course). Without exception, I would become ill with a bad cold or bronchitis, etc. It was almost like my body would just crash completely and I never understood that phenomenon. So now, I continue working on things, but I try to do tasks at a more leisurely pace for a few days.
- When your body is ready, let it sleep. At some point in the days following TechNow (usually on the weekend), I will inevitably feel very tired, will go to bed early without setting an alarm and just sleep until my body is ready to wake up. I let myself do this without guilt – your body heals itself during sleep. Follow your body’s cues and it will tell you what you need.
- Get back on the wagon with exercise and good nutrition. You may find yourself eating quickly and making poor choices while rushing around in the days before an event. (I have stress eating tendencies on top of that, so double-whammy to watch out for.) You may also find yourself skipping your exercise routine. Don’t beat yourself up about it, just get back on the horse and return to your healthy choices once the event is over.
- Rely on your support system. Acknowledge that you are one person and are unable to do everything. Ask for help from your family, friends and colleagues. My husband is really good about making meals and keeping the house tidy during the week of TechNow. If we had kids, he’d likely take over the bulk of those responsibilities during that week too. But sometimes, I still specifically have to ask for what I need him to do.
It’s been two weeks since the conference on Oct. 27 and I’m feeling back in the swing and caught up to my personal level of normal. Just in time for my next “big” event – hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in my life – yikes!
Remember your own needs are important. Just like the flight attendants tell you on the plane, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs.