If you are like many fundraisers, December is the biggest month of the year for you and your non-profit. This can put a ton of pressure and stress on you. You’ve got year-end giving and goals to meet, events and donor visits…not to mention getting ready for the holidays yourself.
Quite frankly, December is a fundraiser’s deadliest month. More fundraisers die of heart attacks at this time of year than in any other month. Men and women.
I don’t want you to be one of them.
I’m warning you, if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll be sick over Christmas and the new year, or worse…dead. I see this happen to MGO’s and development professionals every year. So, I’m going to give you some very practical advice on how to get through December without going nuts or getting sick.
You can choose to ignore this advice at your own peril. I know, because I used to get sick every January 1st from being so stressed out in December with all the pressure.
Okay, so here you go:
- Breathe—I’m serious. What I mean is, take time to meditate, pray, practice yoga, whatever, but take time out of your day to clear your mind. I know what happens to you. You have a thousand things racing through your mind everyday. It’s stressing you out. My wife, Julie, has this cool exercise she does everyday. It’s called “20 breaths.” All you do is sit comfortably in a chair, close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath, focusing on the breath. Repeat it at your own, natural pace for 20 breaths. That’s it – a little stress reduction exercise anyone can do in the middle of the day. Try it.
- Eat Right—Probably the worst thing I do personally when I’m under extreme stress is to eat food that’s not good for me. And that just makes it worse. Force yourself to eat balanced, healthy meals. I know those vendors love sending all that high-calorie, high sugar stuff to you. Resist! You will appreciate it in January.
- Exercise—If you are someone who regularly exercises, don’t stop in December. You’ll be tempted to because you “just have to get to the office early.” Keep it going. If you don’t exercise that much, then I encourage you to at least take time to walk everyday for 20-30 minutes. This goes back to clearing your mind. It will do that and at the same time release endorphins that make you feel good.
- Laugh. There, I bet you just smiled at that one. Good. Keep it up. Look, the world isn’t going to end because you took some time to have fun with your colleagues and family during the weeks leading up to the holidays. Don’t be thinking that “the good times” can wait until you are off. Laughing can ease a lot of stress.
- Do something nice for someone else. I know you have a lot to do. But, if you want to be less stressed and happier during this crazy time of year, one of the best things you can do is something nice for someone else. Help ease your burden by easing someone else’s burden. You will be amazed at what will happen to you.
Okay, so there you go. If you can put these five things into action this December, you will greatly reduce your chances of getting sick while everyone else is enjoying the holiday and having a great time.
You can make it. And, especially remember that breathe thing. You’ll thank me in January.