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The theme of Community Manager Advancement Day this year was self-care. The CMX Connect chapter in London partnered with the NHS Good Thinking team to bring their members hands-on, interactive session. This self-care toolkit was developed by attendees of CMX Connect London at their event on January 27, 2020 and complied by Serena Snoad. They shared experiences and connected with other professionals facing similar issues, and came up with some practical, helpful advice.

The Masterclass was led by Darren Gough and Dr Richard Graham.

Darren is the former community manager of Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert.com (~1.8M members), and now an expert in community management working with the NHS and has previously worked with a number of global household names including Sky, Greenpeace, Scope, Society for Neuroscience and more.

Dr Richard Graham is a Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, and a former Clinical Director at the Tavistock Clinic. He is currently Clinical Lead for Good Thinking: London’s Digital Mental Well-being Service (https://www.good-thinking.uk). He has worked extensively in digital health, e-safety for the last decade and established the first Technology Addiction Service for Young People in the UK in 2010. In June 2016, he was appointed to the Executive Board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS; the British Government’s principal advisory body for online safety and security for young people) and Co-Chairs the Digital Resilience Working Group. He also works with the BBC, as Digital Well-being Consultant to the Own It App (https://www.bbc.com/ownit/take-control/own-it-app)

Key challenges community professionals face:

  • Stressful content which can include conflict, complaints, and safeguarding
  • You’re ‘always on’ if urgent issues happen
  • Wide ranging responsibilities and the pressure to be all things to all people
  • Lack of support or managers ‘don’t get it’

We felt our ideal self-care toolkit could have the following:

At work

  • A culture that acknowledges self care is a necessary professional skill
  • A balanced work environment – smart hours not long hours, flexible working hours and locations
  • Know your remit – what you handle, what you escalate, pass on, and what you say no to
  • Plan ahead for risks or issues and know your escalation process
  • Time for breaks, holidays and cover in place to help you to step back
  • Leaders that role model the right behaviours and encourage others to do the same
  • A safe space to ask questions, learn and seek support with a non-blame, learning culture
  • Zero tolerance for abuse of community team. Guidelines to protect you
  • Refocus on your mission and the positive value of your community

With colleagues, peers or friends

  • Finding a support network – your team, community peers or colleagues who are community ‘allies’ and will champion and support you
  • Team catch ups to bounce around ideas
  • Emotional Labelling – better self-identify how we are feeling to better describe it to others
  • Discuss wellbeing (e.g. in supervision, mentoring or coaching sessions).
  • Learn how to debrief and reflect constructively
  • Learn how to better signpost others to self-care tools – like NHS Good Thinking!
  • Make time to connect with peers and discuss warning signs and others’ experience

Personal and outside of work

  • Look out for your own warning signs – sleep, diet, emotional state, handling small stresses and for your own bad habits that may be gradually creeping in
  • Enforce your own time away from work/phone to help create head space – working in a room that isn’t your bedroom, keeping work devices out of your lounge or bedroom.
  • Beware of the ‘guilt factor’ and see looking after yourself as an investment
  • Using your work time breaks well – not lunch at the desk!
  • Independently create time to self-reflect and perspective taking (Self Care Bingo)
  • Use techniques like mindfulness and meditation for reflection and handling stress
  • If you like to write to reflect, keep a journal. You can use this as a mood diary, a collection of ‘wins and learnings’ or a way to track and achieve goals
  • Create good habits which can include exercise, eating well, moderating drinking
  • Prioritising quality sleep – we felt this was so important it needed its own bullet point!
  • Prioritise time for hobbies and interests
  • Learn new things and develop new skills
  • Podcasts and music can help with switching off or shifting perspective
  • Get outside and connect with nature
  • Therapeutic benefit of animals
  • Find your ‘HappyList’ (zefrank) – the little things that bring you energy or joy

This self-care toolkit was compiled by CMX Connect London at their event on January 27, 2020! Thanks so much to everyone who attended and shared their suggestions on how to improve the self care and wellbeing of community managers at work, with our teams and in our personal lives. Self-care can start small, with a micro-pause; being mindful for a few minutes a day can grow and help bigger things.

Want to get involved? Find out when YOUR local CMX chapter is meeting next.

Don’t see your city? Apply to be a Host and bring CMX Connect to your community!

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