Sleep On It: Managing Association Stresses

January 23, 2018       THE NONPROFIT TIMES      

Managing an association can be a pressure-cooker job. Seemingly every day comes with new challenges, questions, concerns, and opportunities. With, not only your staff, but a host of members seeking your guidance, the job can sometimes feel like it’s too much.

    Shelley Row, president and CEO of Shelley Row Associates LLC, recommended stepping away when times get to be too much, regroup, and come back firing on all cylinders. During her session, “Secrets to Complex Decision-Making: It’s not Woo-Woo. It’s Neuroscience” at the 2017 American Society of Association Executives Meeting & Exposition in Toronto, Ont., Row discussed the stresses and fears that can be associated with making big decisions. Considerations discussed during the presentation included:

  • Identify what you’re afraid of. Is it standing out or being overlooked? Rejection? Or is it simply the fear of the unknown?
  • Know when you’ve been triggered. A trigger can come from a situation, a task, an interaction, and any number of other places. Triggers can manifest physically, emotionally, mentally, or behaviorally;
  • How does stress impact you? Recognize whether you are likely to feel tightness in your chest or a racing heart, sweaty palms or flushed skin, chills, or the like;
  • What are your go-to reactions? Know whether you tend to fight, flight, freeze, or appease when faced with stress;
  • Don’t be afraid to step away from the stress. Step out or pause the meeting, relax your eyes and jaw, count to 10, breathe deeply, and relax when you feel stressors coming on; and,
  • Sleep on it. Literally. Take in the available information, recognize your feelings, and take a break. A break might include sleeping on it; exercise such as a walk, run, bike or swim; arts-focused such as playing music, working on an art project, or dancing; or simply finding some alone time in a quiet place or meditation.