There's no denying that the globe has its problems. From environmental injustices to inhumane treatment of laborers in every nation imaginable, you may find that certain issues stand out and leave you with a sense of duty.
However, taking on the world's problems as your own to solve can be an awfully troubling tactic. By managing your outreach in healthy ways, you can avoid activist burnout so as to make a difference in the world around you for as long as you live.
Activist burnout is an overwhelming sense of exhaustion in people who choose to spend their lives making a difference in the world around them. It manifests in unique ways for everyone, with common side effects being anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, physical illness and a lack of motivation to endure further activism.
This type of burnout tends to accompany those who fill their platters high, forgetting to pace themselves and instead surrounding themselves with continually stressful activities and environments.
Perhaps most importantly, this burnout affects people who only want to do good, and feel a strong desire to do so day in and day out.
If you're someone who intrinsically wants to make the world a better place, the team at GGL doesn't blame you. In fact, we're the same way, and as far as burnout is concerned, we've been there and done that. We want to share with you some things that we've learned along the activism road. Hopefully, by sharing our own experiences, we'll keep someone off the burnout ledge.
While it may seem counterproductive, prioritizing your health and wellbeing is extremely important in preventing activist burnout. Make sure you're giving yourself enough free time to do the other things you love (say, indulging in a fiction novel or going to the cinema with your pal). Moreover, give yourself a chance to catch up on sleep, practice yoga and cook yourself a lovely meal.
Think about it; if you're not at your best, how can you expect yourself to better the world around you?
You can't be a champion of the environment or marginalized communities without having a team of supporters at your back. Otherwise, you're just giving all you've got without getting anything else in return. Be sure you're surrounding yourself with a community that loves and cares about you (this can be fellow activists or simply your family and friends). That way, you can feel just as propelled and supported as the world you choose to lift up.
It's great to look at the big picture to remind yourself of your own ideal. However, there is no real end game in activism, so don't forget to celebrate the little wins along the way. Did you help a person gain employment? Have you cleaned up a park? These things matter just as much as the grand scheme, so don't discount their effects.
Believe it or not, you don't have to do everything in order to make a difference. Rather than filling up your calendar with loads of duties that you can only give bits of yourself to, you may find it beneficial (for your productivity and your morale alike) to focus on just a couple of gigs. That way, you can give your all to them, perhaps making even more of a difference than you thought imaginable.
Let's be real here. Not every maneuver in your activist journey will go as planned. In fact, not every maneuver in your life will go as planned. Really, it's best to take the bad with the good, accept the things you cannot change and move forward with hopeful determination regardless of it all.
In times of distress and activist burnout, it can be difficult to remember why you started partaking in activism in the first place. Every now and then, take some time to step back from your projects and purpose. That way, you can get a fresh perspective and remember exactly why you started your life's work in the first place.
At GGL, we realize that life isn't fair. That's why we put so much of our time and effort into the fair trade industry. We believe that protecting the rights of marginalized workers and changing the consumer world bit by bit is our calling for making the world a better place. What's your calling?
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