You have followed our journey since October 2010 and this is another long cold winter for us both, you also know that I will never give up with him. There are so many times, that he has come to me, in my own time of need, given me the needed strength when my own is waning, when it became all too much to bare witness to the continued horrors, to cross post and even update this Blog properly with both good news and bad….
Watching him leap high into the air to land in deep snow banks, rolling on his sides and back, racing across the frozen snow….rejoicing in his freedom and in just being alive rekindles my flame to carry on the needed fight for animals everywhere. As one follower remarked in a comment to me on Loki’s FB page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-LOKI-Sole-Survivor/188340937903082?ref=ts&fref=ts when looking into his beautiful gentle eyes it is as if one is falling gently and becoming one in spirit with him.
Going through my long list of incoming emails, I was sent this particular one, by a very close and dear friend of mine who has been involved in animal rescue and advocacy for an extremely long time.
I honestly believe that there are many of us out there in the real world that can say that at one time or another we have experienced the devastating result of the endless hours dedicated to saving, even just one life that has miraculously survived the rages of human indifference, lack of compassion and total disregard for life.
The extreme cost to our own personal lives encompasses many facets. Loss of time with family, the use of personal finances to ensure rescue and proper care, loss of quality time with our own companion animals and of course the emotional and physical costs we must endure to continue our necessary work.
For all of you who continue the fight..be it hands on rescue, be it in your own homes, in shelters, at your computer day after day getting the message out there, signing petitions, lobbying for positive legislative changes to existing antiquated Animal Protection Laws, public speaking on the issues, as well as being a source of strength and support to each other…..I THANK ALL OF YOU..for your continued dedication and commitment.
We all are the Champions who clean up the mess left behind. We SAVE LIVES!!!
Intro to Activist Burnout & How to Avoid It.
What is Activist Burnout? ‘Activist Burnout’ broadly encompasses all personally negative mental, emotional, physical, and behavioural changes caused by one’s activism, that in result hinder the effectiveness of that activist. It is common for activists to suffer from varying degrees of activist burnout, with a variety of symptoms, throughout their lifetime. One of the most important things activists can learn is how to use personalized coping methods to deal with stresses. Thankfully it is possible to overcome and avoid activist burnout and ensure a well balanced and successful life full of activism.
Why do Activists Experience Burnout? ‘Activist Burnout’ will have different causes depending on the individual and their environment. In general, activist burnout is due to the inability of an activist to effectively deal with the many stresses associated with their activist work. Activists should not feel at fault for their burnout. It is understandable why so many activists have difficulty dealing with their stresses when there is little and often no support for activists. Reasons Activists are Unable to Effectively Deal with Stresses: ● Workload ● Poor Habits(procrastination, inefficiencies, etc..) ● Inexperience ● No Mentors ● No Support Network ● Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder/Compassion Fatigue ● Weltschmerz(pain for an unideal world)
What are the Symptoms of Activist Burnout? The stresses activists have to deal with on a day to day basis will affect everyone differently. Mental/emotional, physical, and behavioural symptoms are all interrelated and can exacerbate each other. This means that to resolve one symptom often means dealing with several. The following is a non-exhaustive list including many common symptoms of activist burnout: ● Mental/Emotional Symptoms – ● Irritability ● Anxiety ● Depression ● Sense of Hopelessness/Helplessness ● Cynicism ● Lack of Motivation ● Difficulty Enjoying Life/Activities Once Enjoyed
There is a tendency for activists to remain silent about any painful emotions they may have. Activists will justify this for the reason that while they may be sad, angry and upset “it is nothing compared to the suffering of the ones they are trying to help”. While this reasoning is understandable, unwillingness to share and work through painful emotions will only worsen them. ● Behavioural Symptoms – ● Reclusive Behaviour/Isolation from Once Positive Relationships ● Disregard for Social Responsibilities ● Unwillingness to Accept Help ● Lack of Effectiveness ● Inability/Unwillingness to Fulfill Responsibilities ● Decreased Self-care(personal appearance, hygiene, etc..) ● Inability to Remain Focused ● Difficulty Making Decisions
Behavioural changes are inevitable for activists experiencing burnout. These changes are most obvious to a third party, and often misunderstood as unpleasant character flaws. The negative changes in behaviour can isolate activists, and deter new people from joining the organization or movement.
● Physical Symptoms – ● Fatigue ● Trouble Sleeping ● Weight Loss/Weight Gain ● Decreased Immunity ● General Lack of Physical Fitness While not always associated with activist burnout, the physical aspects are incredibly important to deal with because physical weakness/ailments only exacerbate the taxing mental effects caused by activist stresses. Maintaining physical fitness will help to improve quality of life and alleviate activist burnout.
What Can Activists do to Avoid or Overcome Burnout?
As activists it is important to spot the warning signs that might indicate we or our fellow activists are becoming burnt out. Whether warning signs are apparent or not, it is important for all activists to take proactive measures to ensure they effectively deal with any stresses they might have
. It is essential for all activists to have the ability to use stress management techniques in order to overcome and proactively avoid activist burnout.
The following are a few of the many ways to effectively cope with activist stress: ● Learn to prioritize better and focus on priorities ● Destress though healthy activities(physical exercise, music, reading, etc..) ● Maintain healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise habits *this is crucial\
● Develop better work habits ● Try to focus on tasks you are good at and enjoy doing ● Use a journal ● Attain support groups you can rely on and talk about your stresses with ● Maintain friendly relationships with fellow activists and non-activists ● Find a mentor/mentor a less experienced activist ● Understand that activist work is a lifelong process ● Make your work more enjoyable/fun ● Moderate to Intense physical exercise *great fix for depression ● Reduce workload but improve quality of work being completed ● Understand there are highs and lows of initiatives/organizations/movements ● Maintain activities outside activism that fulfill you ● Resolve negative thought patterns and never discount the worthwhile work you do ●
Reward yourself and others for the important work they do ● Examine how your activist work affects your attitudes and behaviours ● Understand “successes” and “failures” are not dichotomous, every initiative has some degree of success. The real failure occurs when activists become inactive. ● Understand change is possible (thinking otherwise is internalized repression)
● Realize feeling sad and angry about the world is normal and justified ● Maintain a sense of humor ● Therapy has a tremendous potential to help individuals struggling to effectively manage their stress. Therapy should be sought if symptoms are severe.