#23: Preventing Activism Burnout


I hadn’t heard this phrase before October: “Activism Burnout.” I had experienced it before, but just didn’t know that it had a formal phrase, let alone that other’s experienced it too. But it is a real issue for people who are actively engaged in activism and are working hard to make changes in their community. Sometimes the pressure can be a bit high and this pressure over a long period of time can cause many to feel tired and burnt-out. While it is hard to avoid burnout entirely, it is not so difficult to relieve some of the pressure and stress associated while still feeling accomplished and making the difference you set out to make. With this blog I hope to outline a few ways I have managed to hold burnout at bay.

1. Figure Out What Your Burnout Feels like

We all experience our tiredness and frustration differently. The first, and most important, step to managing your burnout is figuring out you are burnt-out.  at Everyday Feminism Magazine writes that understanding your burnout can help you gauge how intense it is and how well you are managing it. According to her, others who experience burnout can feel:

  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Isolation
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Pessimism
  • Disappointment
  • Numbness
  • Fatigue/Insomnia
  • Lack of motivation
  • Physical pain/Sickness

While not an exhaustive list, this gives a good start to how you might feel if you are beginning to experience some burnout. By knowing how you feel when you burnout, you can make sure you manage it when it takes hold. Taking some time to identify your burnout symptoms can go a long way in managing it.

2. Self-Care.

While this may seem obvious to most, I find it very easy to forget to take care of myself. Sometimes even eating or drinking water manage to escape my thoughts. But setting aside time for yourself is vital to maintaining your health and happiness as you work towards whatever goal.

Self-care doesn’t just mean the necessities though. Make sure you side aside time for yourself: to visit with friends, watch TV, or bake (my personal favourite). Do whatever it is you need to do to make you feel less stressed. Most importantly: enjoy yourself!

3. Remember your Accomplishments

Sometimes looking at the to-do list can be harrowing, certainly when you are trying to make a difference in your community. But don’t lose sight of the things you have accomplished. No matter how small, all accomplishments should be looked at with pride. If you are feeling burnt-out, try to remember all of the things you have accomplished and forget about the to-do list for a short while.

4. Don’t forget: You Can’t Change the World in a Day

Picture found at: https://earthspacecircle.blogspot.ca

Sounds cliché, but I find that remembering this helps me the most. I tend to feel like everything needs to get done RIGHT now, and with that comes the pressure to “change the world in a day.” Remember that a lot of activism takes time and that not everything needs to happen immediately.

Many of us want to change the way things are and many of us will. It is hard work and burnout is all part of the process. However, it is important to be able to recognize our burnout and approach it so as not to let it prevent us from doing the things we want to do. Take care of yourselves out there and keep doing great things!

~Landon Getz, External Coordinator


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