Combating activist burnout

There’s a lot going on right now. Every day there seems to be another January 6th hearing to watch or protest to attend. Between the overturn of Roe and escalating concern about climate change, this is a summer like no other. 

As an organization, we’re aware of how easy it is to become overwhelmed. We know this because we’ve experienced it, individually and collectively. That’s why we want to talk about the importance of self-care for advocates, activists, and engaged citizens alike. Below are our top tips for combating activist burnout.

Tip #1: Schedule “action hours” into your weekly planning tool

There are many sleek, easy-to-use platforms to help you manage your time. Whether you’re a lover of Google Calendar or Asana, scheduling “action hours” into your weekly planning tool is a simple way to participate in advocacy work mindfully. Blocking out a window of time ensures that a few hours are dedicated to what’s important to you, but also encourages you to move on once that window has closed. 

Tip #2: Participate in collective efforts

No one person can change the course of an issue. It takes many individuals working together to make real change. By participating in collective efforts, you can support others and allow them to support you in a shared cause. Instead of organizing a protest, see if someone has already started to put one together. Instead of creating a campaign, join one. Movements need leaders and followers. 

Tip #3: Get offline

For better or worse, the 24/7 news cycle is ever-present in our lives. For many of us, media is part of the job, and there’s pressure to never miss a notification. It’s important to practice self-awareness in this regard. Take time to assess how you’re feeling and know when it’s time to unplug. A day of social media silence can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining good mental health. 

Tip #4: Seek out supportive environments

Being in the front lines can feel isolating. Sustainable activism requires camaraderie with like-minded change-makers. For this reason, it’s crucial to seek out supportive environments. Who do you know that is engaged in similar work, or shares your passion for a problem? These people can create safe spaces when they are inevitably needed. 

Tip #5: Enjoy apolitical hobbies

Before I began working for advocacy groups, I used to say my hobbies were reading the news and keeping up with politics. In the time since, I’ve learned about the importance of having hobbies that are unrelated to legislation or elections. Instead of using my free time to scroll through NPR, I now hang out with my cat and watch a horror movie. All this is to say that participating in apolitical hobbies is a valuable way to disengage and live a balanced life. Don’t underestimate the power of knitting a scarf or binging a tv show once in a while! 

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