Are you passionate about the work that you do? What are you doing to maintain that? Being in action for the causes you are passionate about demands a lot and feeling burnt out at times is a normal reaction. Understand that experience as your innermost self calling you to tune in and listen up.
How to Recognize Burnout
"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Working for an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this planet is just that—work. Whether you're actively engaging as a volunteer, public servant, or a non-profit employee, activist work requires significant energy from mind, body, and spirit. On top of given responsibilities, doing work for good in the world usually comes with additional pressures we put on ourselves. If you find yourself feeling cynical, chronically exhausted, or disengaged, don't dismiss it.
These feelings are valid. It's easy to feel distanced from what you're doing when you can't see concrete results of your actions. Repetitive tasks might make you feel as though as you're just going through the motions. Doing them alone can leave you feeling unsupported. Disconnection, repetition, and isolation in your work can be major drivers of burnout.
Know Where You Are
Check in with yourself by taking the Maslach Burnout Inventory self-test and be mindful of the difference between feeling momentarily stressed out and feeling seriously burned out.
Please note that Pachamama Alliance is not an expert in medicine or psychology, and we recommend that you consult your healthcare provider for further guidance if you are experiencing extreme symptoms. Understanding where you are will help you move forward.
How to Stay Engaged
There are actions you can take to acknowledge, push through, and recover from feelings of burnout so that you can continue your work for good in the world. Here are a few things you can do to stay engaged in that work.
- Remember the struggle is continuous. You are in this for the long haul. Understand your role as an activist leader as a lifestyle.
- Put your expectations in check. Positive change happens one small step at a time, not often in leaps and bounds. Defining your goals reasonably will allow you to celebrate even small steps forward.
- Remember you are not alone. Building community is part of the pathway. Reach out for the support that you need to keep going and share the load.
- Seek out a healthy balance of activist work and personal life. Recognizing that you can do anything but not everything will help you prioritize.
- Practice self-care. Doing inner work is prerequisite to working for change in the world outside you, of which you are an interconnected part. Devote the time and energy necessary to be well in mind, body, and spirit.
- Make sure you’re doing what you’re good at! Finding the intersection of your skills and your passion will forge your purpose.
- Remember you are human. Be kind and forgiving with yourself in the endless pursuit of a thriving, just, and sustainable world.
Resources to Keep You Moving Forward
If you find yourself feeling burned out, know that your experience is not a solitary one. People in action all over the world struggle with these feelings and have developed resources to help overcome them.
Pachamama Alliance also offers a suite of programs called the Up to Us Engagement Pathway to help you get re-engaged in the areas that you’re most passionate about. Whether you take our Awakening the Dreamer program, the Game Changer Intensive online course, or get involved in a local Pachamama Alliance Community, there is something here to inspire and energize you at any stage of action.
Image courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons