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Burnout is real. It takes a toll on your health — mentally, emotionally, and physically. And it’s not something that happens overnight. Burnout is a slow building process that escalates each day, ultimately leading to a feeling of defeat.


The nonprofit sector is particularly prone to burnout, as it takes an incredible amount of patience, brain power, and creativity to research funding opportunities, develop a quality program, and write a successful proposal. In this article, we’ll discuss what burnout is, how to identify the signs, and steps you can take to overcome it. 



What is burnout? 


Before we dive into burnout, we want to set the record straight. This is not your fault. It’s not in your head, and it’s not that you need to manage your time better. Burnout happens as a result of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands (HelpGuide). The root of the problem typically stems from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Once we begin to feel the burnout, it’s often difficult to return back to a state of homeostasis (that is, until the organization is managed effectively). 


How can you identify burnout? 


Physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion is a vague explanation of burnout, because it often presents itself in specific side effects or “symptoms.” If you’re experiencing burnout, you’re likely to feel discouraged, unmotivated, and distant from your work, coworkers, and organization as a whole. Negativity becomes rooted in your everyday routine, and you’re likely to isolate or withdraw from your responsibilities. 


How can you overcome burnout? 


When it comes to avoiding or overcoming burnout, change must come from the top down. This begins with better leadership, clear communication and expectations, and recognizing employees when it matters most. At the end of the day, we want to feel needed and wanted, both in our personal and professional lives. 


So how do you express this to superiors? The short answer is; transparency. Transparency goes a long way, in the nonprofit sector and beyond. Tell your superiors how you’re feeling, but make sure you don’t go into “attack mode.” Remember to think holistically, and provide solutions. What symptoms are you feeling? What steps can management take to help you overcome these symptoms? Who can you ask for help, and where can you take a step back? It’s important to remember that just because you’re burned out, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for your time at an organization. With clear communication and transparency, you can work with your team to find solutions to put you back on track. 

Interested in learning more about burnout in the nonprofit space? We have a great webinar for you to check out! It includes tons of statistical findings, and offers additional advice on how to overcome it. And if you need help with grant management, you’re in the right place! RBW Strategy offers a variety of grant consulting services like prospect research, grant writing, and more. Contact us today!

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