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Jeanne Donado

About Jeanne

Relax and Rejuvenate: The Gift We Can Give Ourselves

Every day, the work we do as grant writers has a meaningful impact in many ways, in many places. We help small community organizations keep going as their budgets shrink, assist large nonprofits to serve people from around their neighborhood and around the world; and support schools, colleges, and universities as they educate people young and old to take on a rewarding future.

To do these things well, we work many long days leading meetings, building professional relationships, researching funding sources, writing and editing grants, being involved in our communities, running our businesses, and so much more. Most days we feel good about what we’ve accomplished and ready to keep moving ahead the next morning.

Our bodies and brains need real time off, regularly and predictably. We need to relax and rejuvenate, to protect our health and to honor the inner place that craves a close relationship with ourselves. So, in the midst of all this busy-ness, how do we take care of ourselves?

Sometimes when we notice we are weary at the end of the day, we just put it aside as we can continue to plow through a myriad of deadlines the next day. It’s easy to feel guilty about taking time for ourselves. This is especially true when our colleagues are working so hard or our clients have just handed us a long to-do list. At such times, I often tell myself I’ll take a half day or day off when the current big project is done—only to get swept into the next big project with hardly a blink.

Even so, it is so important to take time off. But remember you should not include those busy weekend days when we’re house cleaning, shopping, tending to family, trying to squeeze in some social life and, all too often, catching up on office work. This is only alleged time off! And by the way, napping in front of the TV doesn’t count, either.

There are many ways to give ourselves this gift, from large tectonic shifts to small moments of pleasure.

A recent New York Times article, “Be More Productive. Take Time Off,” discussed how one very successful business makes it a priority to give staff members “a regular dose of change,” to help them stay happy, focused, and productive. For example, each year from May through October the work week switches from five days to four —“not 40 hours crammed into four days, but 32 hours comfortably fit into four days,” owner Jason Fried explains. Doing so has not only had all the obvious benefits for employees, but has also increased productivity.

What wonderful things might we accomplish if we could reinvent our work calendar in this way. But while it’s probably not an option for most of us, there are many other ways we can relax and rejuvenate ourselves each day.

The 3 M’s come to mind—Massage, Meditation, and Moving Around (tai chi, yoga). Journal writing works for some, a brisk walk on a beautiful day for others. A cup of tea while you look out the kitchen window. A steamy bath with candlelight, and maybe some incense if you’re of that generation, or soft music. There are so many ideas available on the Web that it’s hardly necessary to discuss details here. Each of us will know the right ones when we see them or think them.

Integrating ways to take better care of ourselves in our busy lives requires cultivating an ongoing commitment to changing how we work. Taking care of ourselves is taking care of our work. Writing this article has been an important personal reminder to put relaxation and rejuvenation at the top of my holiday gift list—a gift to myself. I hope you too will consider gifting yourself with it. Pretty paper and ribbons are not required.


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