I’ve been busy interviewing people who work for nonprofits for my next book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout, with Aliza Sherman.   The book looks at how individuals can avoid burnout through self-care and how nonprofits can support it with workplace well-being strategy.     I’ve really enjoyed interviewing individuals about the self-care practices they can do for themselves to improve work life balance and their own well-being.

In our book, we examine the causes and symptoms of burnout,  existing self-care habits and whether they are healthy or not, stress triggers, and provide a buffet of possible self-care practices individuals might incorporate into a self-care plan that creates work life balance.   Nina Simon, a long time colleague and author of the Museum 2.0 blog and executive director, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, told me about this amazing and fun co-created card game to help you think about self-care activities called the The Space Deck.

Just like a deck of playing cards, The Space Deck is divided into different eight different “suits” or themes.   Each of the 56 cards offers an idea or prompt for a way to make space in your life and work, reduce stress, and get into the creative zone.

  •  STILLNESS: quieting the mind and body to develop calmness and focus
  •  CREATIVITY: the process and the product of manifesting your ideas in the world
  •  COURAGE: the strength and ability to act in situations where fear is present
  •  ACTIVIST: catalyzing and sustaining individual and social transformation
  •  RELATIONAL: opening, connecting and relating to the experiences of others
  •  MOVEMENT: using the body to give tangible form to ideas, qualities, or feelings
  •  RITUAL: habitual behaviors to realize an intended mental or physical state
  •  ENVIRONMENTAL: manipulating surroundings/conditions to create a supportive space

The card deck was co-created at MuseumCamp 2015 in one weekend by 100 creative professionals from around the world who gathered at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History to focus on space making.   The camp was co-designed by Beck Tench, a designer and brilliant thinker about creating space for creativity.

Participants at the camp divided into teams by suit and spent an intense 48 hours brainstorming activities that made space related to the different suits. They iterated over 200 ideas that were winnowed down into the Space Deck through rapid prototyping and testing.  While the cards were designed for creative people (artists, museum professionals, etc)  to make space for life and work, they are great way for anyone, including all nonprofit professionals who want to avoid burnout by practicing self-care regularly.

Most of these suits stem from the Tree of Contemplative Practices from The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society.    These cards are available in web format. Pick one at random, browse by suit, or shuffle the deck and find a card that fits your spacemaking needs. You can also purchase a hard copy of the deck here.

In the course of writing the book, both Aliza and I have created “self-care plans” for ourselves, using the resources and different worksheets we’ve created.  One thing I’m trying to do is create a habit of self-care but avoid getting into a rut.   So, one thing I’ve tried is to add time to my calendar for “self-care” and pick from a variety of activities that I’m drawn too.   Here’s where I found the Space Deck really fun and useful – I shuffled the deck and pick a random card or two for some ideas of activities that could use to create space for myself.

This might also be fun game to bring into the workplace, perhaps having it in the break room next to some creative materials.

If you work for a nonprofit, if you create the space for yourself to practice self-care – what are those activities?   How have you made them a habit or regular part of your life?


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