In the community management field stress is something often found. It can lead to long-term consequences, such as occupational burnout, lack of motivation or even depression. Thus, it is important for community professionals to handle stress in a constructive and adequate way.
But where does stress come from?
There are many different reasons for community managers to feel pressured and overwhelmed at work. First of all, many people working in this field find themselves in a team of one. This makes us wear many different hats and try to please the interest of all stakeholders in the community - from executives, to colleagues and community members. All this leads to loss of focus and attention and low performance level. Another big factor for over-stressing is the essence of the community management job - being an empathetic person handling other people’s emotions, changes and desires. Often this leads to even self-imposed pressure and setting unrealistic expectations that we should find the solution to everything. This lack of personal boundaries and the unclear responsibility usually cause high self-doubt and feeling of instability.
At this stage, many people decide to deal with stress by taking days off and going on vacation. But, in the long run this is not the solution.
Creating better work environment
Community managers can prevent stress during their working hours with some small tricks. They can start by bringing more structure in the workflow - i.e. by creating a to-do's list. Another thing that can help is having a frequent check-in with a manager. This provides the feeling of stability and sets clear expectations, tasks and priorities. Furthermore, community managers can think of new ways to delegate some easier to handle tasks - either to other team members or to community advocates, or even by automating some processes. Last but not least, it is important to bring some time for deep work. It helps them be accountable over their own goals and have the space to create and explore new ideas, which increases motivation and results in better community spaces.
Personal tools to overcome stress for Community Managers
To decrease the level of stress at work, community professionals also need to change some habits in their personal life. Besides bringing some daily movement and finding time to meditate and do breath-work, they should play and create. This can be as simple as cooking or doing a board game evening with friends. Even though it seems like a less important thing, bringing playfulness and creativity in day-to-day life increases the dopamine level in our brains and makes us more receptive, inspired and grounded. Turning these small moments into something regular can help community managers be more responsive to their members and create amazing content, programs and activities.
Another important step for overcoming stress is creating boundaries - this can look like learning to say no, creating a specific window for meetings, or having a more balanced event calendar. All these tricks give the space for a person to focus on things that bring joy, long-term benefits and new solutions. Things that matter for the community.
Working in a field like community management teaches us to hold space for others and help them grow, learn and create their dream life. But how often do we do the same for ourselves?
When we give ourselves the time to reflect on what we accomplished, how we handled a certain situation or what is happening now, we can actually decrease the stress we are feeling. Taking a pause and asking ourselves the following questions is always something that helps us feel more stable and in-control:
- What is missing, what can we add here?
- How serious is the situation?
- What is essential here?
- What can I do to achieve my goals?
- What brings me joy?
- What did I learn in this situation?
- What can we do better next time?
Self-reflection is a valuable tool that teaches us to step back and see things from the point of the observer. So, any time we feel overwhelmed, we should breathe and change our perspective.
The best tool to lower the levels of stress we experience daily is the most simple one - connect to others. This is in the essence of community management and yet we often tend to forget how meaningful it is to share your struggles with people who are walking in your shoes, who can understand your pains. Being vulnerable and real in the community space is always a win-win situation - you win by not holding things in and others win by giving them this example. So, never forget to share your fears or challenges but also your wins and accomplishments. Because when we connect with others, we feel less weight on our shoulders.
Stress is not something we can erase forever from our life. It is a normal human experience and we should never feel ashamed or weak to share what we are going through. Yet, we can take small steps to decrease the level of stress we feel and to avoid occupational burnout. Because only when we do this, we connect authentically in our communities and hold safe space for others. Only then can we become better community professionals and human beings.
Lia Mladenova is currently working as a Community Manager at Artivive. She is passionate about bringing people together, helping others, and building strong connections. At the moment, she is also a local CMX Connect host and always looking for new ways to learn and grow in the community industry.
May 20, 2022
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