I think one of the hardest things about being part of a movement–or even just aligning with your values–is trying to deal with the inevitable moments of exhaustion that come with going against the grain.
Activist’s Fatigue–also known as Activism Fatigue or Activist Burnout–is best described as the moment when the sheer amount of emotional/mental/physical effort we put into something we advocate and believe in just wears us out. We become exhausted, lose motivation, avoid the topic we’re activists about, or even become physically ill because of the amount of stress it puts on our bodies.
It’s a real concern and something every activist needs to watch out for. But how can we possibly prevent activist’s fatigue when there is so much to do, so much to accomplish, and it’s basically like waging all-out war against a brick wall half of the time?
I feel you. As a member of the vegan community, a budding environmentalist, and a minimalist, I’ve definitely felt the pain of walking that tightrope between what matters to me and what I am physically/mentally/emotionally able to do for the movements and philosophies that matter to me. This is not me waving a white flag, though. Oh, no. Having battled with Activist’s Fatigue several times and winning out, I would like to share five tips that helped me get through the worst days of Activist’s Fatigue and what keeps me motivated going forward.
This is crucial to help deal with the activist part of the fatigue. Go back to the community, or find other members of the community you’re advocating if you’ve never done that before. There are thousands of websites dedicated to bringing like-minded people together if you can’t (or don’t want to) meet in person. These are places where you can discuss your worries, share concerns, and think of productive solutions to the problems that are plaguing you. Sometimes all that’s needed is a fresh pair of eyes and a warm smile telling you that you’re not alone.
If you’re coping with Activist’s Fatigue, make sure you treat yourself for all your hard work. I’ll be the first to tell you: you’ve done a lot for the movement you’re advocating, you are doing great, and you deserve to cuddle up with a warm beverage or a pint of ice cream once in a while. Like any sort of stress or fatigue, it’s important to watch out for your mental health. Having the occasional treat–particularly after you’ve done something out of your comfort zone or something you felt too tired to do but did anyway–is a good way to remind yourself that what you’re doing, what you’re advocating, and who you are, matters. Just make sure you’re doing it responsibly. 😉
Falling in step next to snacks and warm drinks, creating an environment that’s comfortable to you will really help in dealing with Activist’s Fatigue. Think about it: if you’re uncomfortable on the inside from fighting a seemingly perpetual battle with society and the environment where you spend all your hours at rest is stressing you out, you’ll more than likely feel even worse about your situation and feel even less motivation to get back in the game. Refresh yourself by creating a space that makes you feel safe and productive. Make the bed, light a candle, straighten up the clutter, wipe down the countertops, reorganize your decor. Whatever helps you create a space that makes you even a little happier can make a world of difference.
Please nourish your body. Oftentimes, with the hustle and bustle of daily life and the all-too-frequent feeling of not accomplishing enough (whatever that means, right?), it’s so easy to forget to eat well. Here’s the deal though: Food is fuel for your body. In order to keep going–and especially to prevent yourself from becoming ill from Activist’s Fatigue–make it your priority to eat nutritious, wholesome food that will give you the energy you need to accomplish as much as you can. As a vegan advocate, of course, I’m going to suggest the whole foods vegan diet for your own health, the safety and respect of our world’s animals, and the environment… But, if nothing else, make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and veggies that pack a lot of nutrition for each caloric punch. One of my favorite resources for this is this video on NuritionFacts.org.
Perhaps the most important tip of all: remind yourself of all the good that’s happening in your movement. What is getting accomplished that benefits your movement? What are some truly kind, uplifting, and wonderful things people have done? Read good news, remind yourself of the amazing things human beings are doing, and generally restore your faith in humanity and/or their potential. Activist’s Fatigue takes over the more we experience negative scenario after negative scenario. It’s hard to feel good about the future of your movement when all you’re hearing, seeing, or experiencing, is just… disheartening.
Remind yourself of what’s important,
Take care of yourself,
Find as much good as you can,
Keep fighting for your movement.
The world can’t change without our help.