Tips for Recovering From Activism Burnout

Tips for Recovering From Activism Burnout
If you find yourself losing sight of how you fit into your activism and where your personal goals are, you might be experiencing activism burnout. Whether from work, activism, or other activities, burnout is becoming more common and has predictable causes and symptoms. It is marked by forgetfulness, trouble concentrating and difficulty maintaining relationships with loved ones and coworkers. Working through your burnout will take time and effort, but you can get started by recognizing that you are burnt out and being gentle with yourself about it.

Identify the Cause

While stresses on the job cause most burnout, it can also stem from increased pressure in your activist groups, home life or educational pursuits. Leaders in social justice movements, like Mary Beth Maxwell, have started including mental health information and strategies for avoiding or countering these stresses in educational materials and training courses. You can find many analogies for burnout, like bending too much and breaking or giving so much that your reserves are empty. Activists will often burn out from the backlash of their activities, from ego clashes within groups and the seemingly overwhelming task at hand.

Find Immediate Changes You Can Make

As soon as you realize that you are burnt out, you can probably pinpoint a couple of changes you can make to keep it from getting worse or even start recovering. These changes can be something small like unplugging for an hour a day, or they can be more significant, like deligating more or asking for projects to be reassigned. Sometimes, these changes can be challenging to maintain, such as turning friends or family down, staying off social media or reducing your workload with a demanding boss. In that case, you may have to look into other options and longer-term solutions.

Talk To Those You Trust

To better maintain changes and habits needed for your health and wellbeing, it is important to establish boundaries with those around you. Talking to friends, family or a therapist about your burnout can help you work through the causes, what options you have for reducing their impact, and even where your boundaries should be. These conversations are not usually enough to inform those around you of where your boundaries lie with them, so you may need to be more direct with those who continue to push. Activists will often have to prioritize events and tasks according to their values, which may mean that you skip a group meeting to work an extra shift or be honest with Mom when she asks you for a favor you do not have room for. Burnout can happen to anyone who is over-stressed and overworked, even if the stressful work seems as insignificant as keeping up with the laundry. Trying to do too much by yourself will leave you with little to no time and energy to take care of yourself, so it is crucial to notice the signs of burnout and make immediate changes in your schedule if you are experiencing any of them. You should talk to those you trust to work out your recovery options and where your boundaries need to be, even if that means telling loved ones “no” instead of trying to squeeze in just one more thing.
Christie Lewis
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