To all the social activists and leaders that are fighting or standing up for a cause, your voice is powerful. Your posts are powerful. Boycotting is powerful. Using hashtags is powerful. Going to that protest is powerful. Your work is so important. However, I know you may feel helpless, but your work is not in vain.
I know that as an activist, we may often feel overwhelmed, hopeless, and exhausted from the stress of standing up for a cause or a norm. We need to work all together and find ways to prevent activism burnout.
What is activism burnout?
Activism burnout is when an individual or a group of people who stands up for change in society feels as if their work is not useful. They feel as if their work is leading to no change or achievement toward a better society. Social activists who stand up for a cause and wants to change social norms must face many critics, opposition, and disagreement. This can often have a big impact on their mental health and physical health. The change in mental and physical health that disrupts the daily activity of a social activists is symptoms and signs of activism burnout.
What are symptoms of activism burnout?
Activism burnout may look different for each person.
Here are a few main physical symptoms of activism burnout:
- A fast weight loss /gain
- Feeling physically trained
- Not being as active as previously
- Being lazy and no motivation in moving
Here are a few main mental symptoms of activism burnout:
- Feeling stressed
- Feeling constantly tired
- Having no energy
- Feeling hopeless and anxious
Activism burnout is something that you should try to prevent because once we fall in the trap of social activism burnout it is very difficult to come out of it Activism burnout become a vicious cycle of negative mental health impact and negative physical impact. Therefore, it is important that everyone is aware of various ways to prevent activism burnout.
Ways to prevent activism burnout:
Here are few ways that can help you from not burning out while fighting for change in society:
As a social activist, I know that we often feel as if we do not deserve what we have and enjoy because many other people are denied from having the basic daily needs. We often feel guilty and change our self-care routine without even realizing it. I also saw my self-care routine decrease when I felt stressed from social activism. My eating habits have changed and I was always feeling unmotivated to do activities I used to enjoy doing.
However, self-care is the most important factor that prevents us from having activism burnout. We need to take care of ourselves to be able to take care of others. So, please remember to eat, drink water, and sleep. Do not abandon or neglect yourself.
Here are other self-care ideas that you can do when you feel overwhelmed:
- Write in a journal about your accomplishments, and things you are grateful about
- Meditate /yoga / breathing exercises.
- Stick to a schedule that is not too stressful.
- Take a relaxing bath / bubble bath.
- Go for a walk.
- Be physically more active.
- Most importantly do what you enjoy doing during the day for at least one time
“By virtue of us caring for ourselves , that puts us in an even better position to also care for our community” – McKensie Mack
2. Take a break.
Knowing when you are feeling overwhelmed and when to take a break is very important. It is important to know and identify the symptoms of a burnout which will indicate to you that you need a break. I know that we want everyone to see our goal and purpose in advocating for human rights, but it can often be very traumatizing and triggering.
Therefore, you do not need to know every detail, watch every single video, or read every single post. Constantly traumatizing and triggering yourself and others is not a prerequisite for advocacy and activism. That can make you and others feel more hopeless. Whenever we feel overwhelmed or traumatized, we should try to take a break and just disconnect from everything related to the work we are fighting for. Sometimes it is better to just turn off the phone, not watch the news and just do what brings us joy.
Sometimes we need to stop saving the world and think about ourselves. This does not mean that you are being selfish. It means you are being self-center. It is important to be self-centered because if you continue doing this intensive work then you can damage your mental and physical health in the long term. Do as much as you can but make sure to always put yourself first. Take a break if you need.
3. Celebrate the small achievement.
Social activism is a long-term process. We need to have a lot of patience. We can often feel as if what we are working on does not have an impact or change in society. Therefore, we need to take the smallest accomplishment and celebrate as if it is a big one. This will motivate us to continue to do our work and it can also encourage others to join us and fight for what we believe is right.
Celebrating achievements will not make you feel as if your hard work had no impact. This will prevent us from feeling hopeless and it will encourage us to do more because that is when we will recognize the amount of power we can have as a group of individuals who are fighting for the same cause.
When we feel strongly about a cause we try to get all the resources to make a change in a system that is in power and wants us to burnout from the actions we take for social change. The ones who are in power wants us to burnout because it is easier for them when there is no one who questions their actions and contradicts them. Social activism is long-term and ongoing, burning out benefits the oppressors.
We must take time to care for ourselves, we need to know when to stop and take a break from our activist work. We need to take time to celebrate our accomplishments which will allow us to bring change that will create a society that is egalitarian and inclusive .
So, I hope this blog helps you guys find a way to prevent activism burnout and do not let the oppressors win.