I took a day off!
Yes, I really did. And I have never needed it more than I did this week. I had simply burnt out and I found I could give no more.
I know this will resonate with so many of you but I wonder how many recognise this in themselves and actually say I need a break, even just a day off.
For me, the final straw was when we didn’t receive some major funding we were really hoping for. They sent the ‘we are sorry’ email at 4.45pm on a Friday afternoon, just when you are your most tired and I simply deflated.
I don’t need to tell anybody how tough the year has been for each and every one of us. It doesn’t matter what you do, where you work or what your family situation is, it has been hard. I look back to a year ago when we cancelled all our fundraising events and wondered where on earth our money was going to come from. We considered freezing the charity but that wasn’t an option because the need for our help and support had gone through the roof at record levels. Oh, the sleepless nights I had worrying.
I was furloughed for a while but was not prepared to sit back and do nothing so I went on as many training courses as I could to make me the best I could be when I returned. I read all those fundraising books I had gathering dust on my shelves and armed myself with as much knowledge as possible.
When I returned, I was fired up and ready to go. We put all sorts of strategies in place and looked into the ways funds came into the charity. We had to adapt and we had to do it quickly. Fortunately, there were numerous emergency funds set up and we were successful with many of our applications. As fast as it came in, it went out to those in need.
Life in the office
As the year went on, many people would say to us ‘oh what have you been doing to keep busy, there can’t be too much to do with no events happening?’
How wrong they were!
It is only me in the office at the moment and no day is the same – I wear a lot of hats! Where bigger charities would have a different person working in each area, here at TBF, it’s all me.
Every week I work on stewardship and thanking donors; website updates; social media posts; trust and foundation applications; grant applications; stories and impact our work has had; accounting; basic admin and emails; awareness; working with our corporate donors. The list is long and there are never enough hours in the day. As lots of you will have found out, you have to be strict when you work from home otherwise you can find yourself working until you can’t keep your eyes open late into the night.
Getting back to nature
Anyway back to my burn out. It is becoming even harder this year to win grants and funding. There are so many of us fighting for that pot of money that will help us make a difference to our causes. Every one of which is a worthwhile cause. There are only so many times you can accept knockbacks before you really feel it mentally so I planted myself in my greenhouse for a couple of days (excuse the pun), put on my podcasts and just focused on being. I love my greenhouse and getting back to nature; watching my seeds starting to pop through and preparing my pots and baskets gives me such hope for the future. I cannot recommend it enough. I can be alone with my thoughts and sort things in my mind – it’s very therapeutic.
My happy place
And then I took my 1st day off! I went to my real happy place: the beach. The sense of space and sea air cleared everything. It is amazing how clogged up our brains and bodies have become over the last year. I just felt a release of pressure and tension, fear and worry about the future; it was like physiotherapy for the brain. Obviously, I am always concerned for the future but with careful strategic planning and adapting to the way we live and work, we will work hard to continue to deliver the services we provide.
My message today in a world when ‘Be Kind to yourself’ is used so often, is to give yourself some self-care. This Easter, take some time to de-clog your brain, to refresh your mind and come back invigorated. It is really worth it. Don’t forget you are doing an amazing job under extreme circumstances.
All we can give of ourselves is our best, no-one can ask anymore of us.