I think this will be the last post about avoiding burnout for the next little while, not because we’re done, but because I want to think about other things for a bit, so I’m going to pass the torch, so to speak, to Mark Hawthorne, who literally wrote the book on animal activism (you can see our review here.)
Consider this a homework assignment: check out Mark’s talk on burnout. The video’s an hour and a half long, but Mark’s portion of it is in the first 20 minutes. The middle chunk (Robert Roop on Coping with Compassion Fatigue) is interesting, but I’ll admit I didn’t watch all of it due to time constraints. The last 20 minutes are Q&A with both Mark and Robert, and you might get something out of that too.
And yeah, I know that even after I’ve picked out the highlights from 90 minutes of video for you, some of you don’t learn that way, so I’m going to give a quick summary of Mark’s “ACTIVE approach” to avoiding burnout.
As you might have guessed from the all-caps presentation, ACTIVE is an acronym that stands for these tips:
A: Allow yourself to be human. Give yourself permission to have a good time without feeling guilty.
C: Create something tangible to remind you of your victories. A notebook, a binder, a website, a scrapbook with clippings of your successes. Something to turn to to remind you you’re fighting the good fight.
T: Talk to someone you trust. Have someone with whom you can dare to be yourself. It’s critical to be able to unburden yourself. Use a therapist if you don’t have someone else you can turn to in your personal life.
I: Ignore upsetting images. Give yourself some space if at all possible.
V: Visit an active sanctuary (or volunteer at one.) Get some face time with the faces you’re working to protect.
E: Exercise. Walk, hike, bike, go to the gym, yoga, pilates, whatever you can do.
I could write a whole essay about how each of these tips have made positive changes in my life by both helping to avoid burnout and making me more effective, and if you can’t, then there might be something missing in your burnout prevention kit, so I highly recommend giving them a try.
If you’d like to follow more of Mark’s work, you can check out his blog, where he does incredibly in depth reports on activism opportunities, his Twitter feed for shorter updates, and of course his book, which I think is a great one to have handy whenever someone around you says they’re thinking about getting into volunteering or activism.