Mental Health Tips for Busy Leaders

By Jackie Sue Griffin, JSG & Associates

As a nonprofit leader, you may feel you’re expected to always at the top of your game, but constant work demands — and navigating a global pandemic — can negatively impact your health and well-being.

Leaders who prioritize their health and well-being will see benefits for themselves and their organization that reach far beyond the bottom line. So here are six habits to support your mental health and resiliency that can positively impact yourself, your family and your team.

1. Get enough sleep — If you’re low on energy and short of temper, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep problems can be a symptom of depression but research has also shown that lack of sleep causes depression.

2. Manage stress — Take short wellness breaks several times throughout the day to recharge and encourage your team to do the same. Leave (or log out of) work at a reasonable hour and experience life outside your nonprofit. Your team will take notice of this and do the same. Don’t skip your vacations, and try to stay unplugged as much as you can during non-working hours.

4. Exercise every day — Making physical fitness a priority also has profound positive impacts on your mental health. This can mean anything from taking the stairs instead of an elevator, walking, running or stretching. Encourage your team to do the same! Even just walking after lunch or at break times can help you de-stress and greatly improve your mood.

5. Practice gratitude — It’s easy to get caught up in reaching that next milestone, but don’t forget to make time to recognize and celebrate your own and your team’s efforts along the way. Take time to show appreciation to others, and don’t be surprised when they reciprocate. Expressing gratitude shifts your mind from toxic emotions and makes you more optimistic, better equipped to deal with problems and happier overall.

6. Stay connected — Your social connections can strengthen your immune systems, improve your self-esteem and lower anxiety and depression. Connecting with people you love makes you happy, and in turn, keeps you physically and mentally healthy.

As the pressure of work heats up, it’s crucial that you, as a leader, maintain your mental and physical health by protecting your personal time and encouraging your team to do the same.