Before signing on to become a leader in your community, the roles seemed clear: responsibly manage your fiduciary duty, hold annual meetings, communicate with residents often. Today those expectations have moved far beyond what those roles seemed like and into overwhelming territory.
The ongoing pandemic is linked directly to the state of peoples' mental health brought on by social distancing and stay-at-home mandates. In fact, between April and June, anxiety and depressive disorders have considerably increased compared to this time last year.
A survey of Americans 18 and older between June 24-30 found that nearly 31 percent of participants reported at least one mental health condition, 26.3 percent attribute trauma or stress-related disorders to the pandemic and 13.3 percent use unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage their emotions.
Given these numbers, it's not too far-fetched that board members may fall under these categories. You've suddenly gone from your pre-COVID leadership routines to wearing far too many hats at once. On top of that, your roles outside of the boardroom as partners, parents or professionals can potentially add strain.
So, speaking to you as community leaders and your property management partner, we want to tell you that we recognize all you've done to keep your association together by seeking new information and maintaining a positive outlook. We also understand that recognition isn't enough; providing resources is also key to addressing any underlying conditions you may be facing. Here's 6 ways to manage your board stress.
Or to put it more clearly, identify and respond to your limits. Countless Zoom meetings, financial record upkeep, vendor management, collections and maintaining a likeness of a COVID-era resident lifestyle is enough responsibility to make anyone feel overwhelmed.
Sure, you became a board member because you wanted to be a part of something bigger than an ordinary community, but you're a resident first. Knowing the intimate details of what it takes to run an association (on top of being an integral part of your community) can take a toll. When you find yourself bogged down with notes, uncharacteristically forgetting important dates or are more tired than usual, listen to those physical, mental and emotional indicators. There's no shame in needing a moment to recharge. As a board member, giving your all just isn't possible if you're stretched too thin.
As you take time to recharge, take a day or two to focus on what matters to you, whether it's spending time with family, finishing a painting or putting the final touches on a new home project. Even something as quick as a fresh air-filled, 30-minute walk or daily yoga routine can restore your physical, mental and emotional well-being. When you feel proud of these personal achievements, it affects those around you, making you a better neighbor and community leader.
Think of it as a letter of transparency to your community. Part of being a leader can mean bearing the brunt of those not-so-photogenic moments and frustrations. Taking on such a role can make it easier for others to view you as someone who's out of touch with reality, only interested in creating and enforcing rules, or lacks empathy. Now's your chance to shatter that sentiment!
As a board member, you know better than anyone else how difficult it can be to maintain order, resident satisfaction, and your sanity. So get personal with residents! Share the ups and downs of being a community leader during an arguably challenging time by reminding homeowners that you're not a distant board member. In fact, you're just like them.
Meet them where they are, empathize with their struggles, offer support and create a forum for others to openly share their thoughts. This sort of communication doesn't have to be a deeply personal journal entry or a misguided rant. Instead, let it be an informal "check-in" that tells your side of the story while making room for others to do the same.
One of the best things about belonging to a tight-knit community is knowing you have other residents in your corner willing to help at a moment's notice. Your association is a melting pot made up of people with unique skills and professions. Need someone with accounting experience to help review financial records? We're sure they're out there. That goes for landscapers, event coordinators and security professionals...all in your backyard! Even leaders of large companies have a circle of support near them at all times; board members should have the same. Find out how you can make the most of your support system with the help of committees.
This can be as simple as creating a group chat or having bi-weekly Zoom calls. Remember, these meetings don't have to be all work and no play. Ensure they have the support they need, whether it be a listening ear or dropping off homemade cookies to make their day a little brighter. As a collective, you are each other's primary support system, so making a point to check in periodically with each other will make trudging through the bigger challenges a little easier.
Besides your fellow board members and committee support, remember that you have a team of professionals who act as your advocate. They want to see you thrive and have everything you need to create an authentic environment for your community. Don't be afraid to make an appointment with your community manager or regional director. If there are resources you need to help refine strategies, they're one phone call or email away.
It can be easy to believe that you're dealing with the effects of a pandemic alone. Still, the reality is you, along with the rest of the world, are in the same boat. Allow yourself the grace and the help you deserve. According to experts, it looks as though we could all benefit from it. Give yourself a break and then a pat on the back.