Welcome back empowered readers,
In May 2020, thousands upon thousands of protesters across Canada and the United States marched the streets to protest racial injustice. Inspired by the murder of George Floyd, groups rallied against the systemic racism that plagues institutions like law enforcement with mostly peaceful marches and gatherings in cities across Canada.
While in September 2019, an estimated 6 million concerned citizens worldwide assembled the streets to strike for the climate. While the climate strikes made headlines as the largest environmental protest ever, it is certainly not the only example of activism in recent history. Consider the fast-rising animal rights activism pushing legal boundaries across Canada today.
As threats of environmental devastation, the importance of dismantling systemic oppression, and uncovering inhumane treatment of animals, activist-minded citizens are putting their health on the line. This includes both physically at demonstrations that sometimes result in violence and even death, as well as psychologically in the form of activist burnout.
What is activist burnout?
Researchers define activist burnout as “when long-term activism-related stressors deteriorate activists’ physical or emotional health or sense of connectedness to their movements, impacting their effectiveness or abilities to remain engaged”.
Symptoms of activist burnout can include…
What type of activist are you?
Strategies for Managing the Negative Impact of Activism
For many, activism is a full-time job (on-top of their already full-time jobs) and can be mentally and physically draining. The following are strategies that can help alleviate the negative impact of activism.
Engage in MEANINGFUL Self-Care
True self-care is engaging in an activity that recharges you. It is asking yourself at any point in time “What do I need in this moment?” and following your gut response. Therefore, a trip to the spa is not always going to do the trick. Sometimes it will be taking a break from activism, not logging online for a week or so, immersing yourself in nature to recharge, or simply practicing gratitude for the blessings in life.
Connect with Community
As we progress more and more into the digital world, activism can be very isolating. Adding a pandemic to the mix is not helping as well. Connect with and/or form a close-knit support group with other like-minded individuals. Maybe these are people whom you have volunteered with in the past, met at presentations or are those who are curious about the movement and want to learn more about it. There is a power to community and establishing a group can be a potent tool in working through tough times of burnout and defeat.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
Going to see a therapist should be no different than going to the gym, its merely exercising your mind. But it is exceptionally important in the activist world because in addition to burnout, activists may also experience depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As such, it is important to diligently take stock in your emotional well-being and intervene when necessary. If you feel that you are dealing with anxiety, depression, or even strong traumatic responses, please do not be afraid to seek help.
To your empowered wellness,