Handling Stress at Work in the Charity Sector
It may come as no surprise that people who work in the charity sector tend to be happier and more fulfilled than their counterparts in private companies―that’s the nature of having a job where you spend your days helping others. That happiness in the workplace bleeds into all aspects of your life: your home, your hobbies, your family. In other words, doing good is infectious.
But that doesn’t mean that the sector is without its challenges and stresses. Just like in any other job, charity workers have looming deadlines, stakeholders to deliver for and standards to meet. The trick is figuring out how to handle stress at work in the charity sector. Let’s break it down.
What are the most common causes of stress at work?
Charity sector workers aren’t exempt from anxiety, burnout and stress. In fact, one of the biggest stressors in the charity sector is money.
Charity sector workers often also go the extra mile to launch an event or to run a program. These issues can have a knock-on effect for staff within the sector.
Stress can be caused when there’s a mismatch between job requirements and an individual’s abilities. For example:
- Demands: Workers get overloaded by the amount of work or type of work.
- Control: They have no say over how and when they do their work.
- Support: They lack the help they need.
- Relationships: Poor work relationships lead to increased stress.
- Role: Lack of understanding of their role leads to increased anxiety.
- Change: Poor change management leads to uncertainty and insecurity.
So how do you combat stress at work in the charity sector? We’ve got a few tips that may come in handy.
1. Learn to see it coming
If you know that a busy period is on the horizon at work, put things in place in advance to help you cope with the stress. This could mean developing a routine that prioritises rest, or scheduling in ten minutes every morning to practise mindfulness. It might take a bit of trial and error to find what works best for you, so make sure to work out a routine before you get too stressed and need to use it.
Jobs in the charity sector can be demanding all of the time, especially if your role is more generalised and you’re responsible for covering a lot of bases. Learn to recognise your triggers and unique signs of stress (these may be different for different people), and the causes of stress in your job. For example, a lack of boundaries around acceptable work hours can be a trigger.
2. Exercise regularly
Exercise is a powerful weapon to handle stress at work. It promotes the production of endorphins and neurohormones like norepinephrine, which is associated with improved cognitive function, elevated mood and learning. It also improves your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress and anxiety.
If you can, try and build some form of exercise into your weekly routine. The best for reducing stress is cardiovascular exercise. Don’t feel intimidated if you’re not a sporty person. You don’t have to be ‘good’ at whichever activity you’re engaging in. Just the simple act of taking part and moving your body will help you to handle stress at work in the charity sector.
3. Take frequent breaks
Frequent breaks from work can do wonders for you. Stress drains your energy and efficiency, so taking breaks can actually make you more productive. If things get a little too much, try putting some time aside to work on your hobbies and do the things you enjoy.
4. Don’t forget to have fun
Don’t put off socialising with your friends and family, even if it’s over video chat or on the phone. Making time to connect with people outside of work can really help you to destress. And having a busy work life doesn’t mean you should sacrifice spending time on yourself. Try to make sure you do something you enjoy at least once a week.
Developing and following a self-care plan can go a long way in handling stress at work in the charity sector. Focus on what you can change. The nature of your job could mean that you can’t escape all stressful tasks. In this case, you could focus on taking frequent breaks and having a good morning and evening routine. Start with small changes at first, and then increase frequency and duration.
Feel cleansed of stress already? Why not jump on into the job search and find a great charity job where you can put that clear mind to use?
This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current jobseeker experience.
Senior VP of Business Intelligence Development, I have assisted the Fortune 1000 company with expertise in the web as a whole, including ground-zero marketing efforts that benefit both consumer and vendor. I'm a thinker, communicator, marketer, competitor, people person, and all-around busy bee. I'm a relentless networker with several years of real world experience and two college degrees under my belt.