We Asked, You Answered: How Association Leaders Are Engaging in Self-Care

Association leaders emphasize exercise and frequent communication to help with self-care during a time when their teams need strong guidance.

If the boss is feeling burned out, that feeling can all too easily spread to the rest of the team.

Research shows the correlation—that leaders who exhibit signs of burnout can have a negative impact on the broader organization.

And while the burnout issue has most notably been seen recently in the world of healthcare, the issues can translate to the broader work world as well, as a recent Harvard Business Review piece noted.

The takeaway from these findings: Self-care particularly matters for leaders. And for those struggling to balance leadership with tough times, it might help to learn how others are making it work.

Recently, we asked our readers how they engage in self-care to keep themselves mentally strong during a time when burnout is all too common. A few highlights:

Nolan Harrison

Senior Director, Former Players, NFL Players Association

I really try to focus on staying physically fit, making myself move every day instead of staring at my computer all day. I use a balance board daily for what I call “movement meditation.” This helps me focus my mind and empty out the negativity and self-defeating energy and thoughts. I have set exercise and movement goals for the day through my Apple Watch and hold myself accountable to meet them. I also have a network of other leaders and friends of diverse ages who do the same thing. We push each other and share our efforts with each other and with the world through social media for shared accountability and to motivate others to join in.

Tara Barker

Volunteer Relations Manager, Institute of Management Accountants

I take time out to look for videos on YouTube that will make me smile or laugh—bloopers from my favorite TV shows, babies and puppies, examples of kindness.

Jonathan Salk

CEO, CORFAC International

Making sure I get some sort of daily exercise. I normally start the day with a long walk, time on the bike, or yoga. Clears the head early and gets the energy level going. Regularly keeping in touch with staff is critical without them feeling you are micromanaging. Also regular communication (phone and email) with your organization’s leadership.

Eve Lee

Executive Director, American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association

Acknowledging that I have a unique role in my organization for the motivation and inspiration of others, it’s critically important that I keep that alive and well in myself, especially now. Taking things one day at a time and making the most of small victories helps immensely.

Carol Meyer

Executive Director, US Chess Federation

The pandemic has curtailed my regular work schedule, typically filled with travel commitments. The pandemic pressures have led me to exercise with intention. My self-care routine consists of multiple walks daily. It helps to have a large dog, but I walk by myself once each day. This provides me with a mental boost, leaves me with more energy, and allows me to reflect, gain perspective, and clear my head. The bonus: I’ve even discovered that I rather like exercising in the rain!

Michelle Runge

Director, Chapter Relations, American Inns of Court Foundation

Working from home, getting outside requires more intentionality than it did when I walked to the office each day. Now that the weather is cooler, my husband and I make it a point to go hiking on the weekends. It forces us to take a break from the news cycle and the constant hum of city noise to be present—to nature and to each other. It’s also a humbling reminder that while the world is in the throes of a pandemic and our country is in political upheaval, the world still turns; it makes us step back and look at the bigger picture, remembering the larger purpose for our lives.

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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