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In her Wish You Were Here 2021 unconference presentation, the Chicago Reader’s Karen Hawkins addressed wellness and, more specifically, the importance of taking time away for community media leaders. It is a crucial moment for us to have this discussion.

Coming out of the pandemic and the return to “normal” has not been easy. Many nonprofit volunteers and staff have worked hard throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Others lost jobs and loved ones. The emotional strain has been immense.

More of us are becoming aware of how much personal difficulty and overwork can have on our ability to think, to be empathetic, and to make a positive difference in our communities. And we do not just want to feel we are our work. As Karen Hawkins shared at her keynote, “More than ever, people are craving non-work interactions and connection, to be seen as human beings and not just employees or volunteers. The isolation of the pandemic has been crushing. What small things can you do to foster a sense of connection?”

Here are a few insights:

  • How much time should you be giving yourself? Medical experts say time off is key to avoiding burnout. If you’re not taking at least a day every few months, you risk a great deal in your community media organization.
  • For Nonprofit AF, Vu Le advocates strongly for taking time away, and makes a great case why not doing so harms organizations and people. ” We all need to do a much better job taking care of ourselves. We’ve been sacrificing our health. And it’s been affecting our work. When we are not at our best, our work suffers. We are not as thoughtful. We don’t think things through as we should. We are not able to generate or synthesize solutions as well. We don’t give one another as much grace. We take fewer risks.”
  • Science reporter Tara Haelle, writing for Elemental, suggests the idea of ambiguous loss is critical to seeing our collective crisis. A family therapist she interviewed shares, “The more accustomed you are to solving problems, to getting things done, to having a routine, the harder it will be on you because none of that is possible right now. You get feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and those aren’t good.”

You can rewatch Karen Hawkins’ keynote now in NFCB’s Solution Center. Please contact us if you need help accessing it.