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Standing up for the environment is one of the most important, rewarding things you can do and right now our Earth needs more protection than ever before. But what happens when activism stops becoming a joy and starts becoming a strain on your physical and mental health?
Caring about the world can be exhausting. You try your best to make the right choices and lead the way for others. You post on facebook, go to rallies, sign petitions, donate to charity and cut down consumption. Then one day you look around and think "Why am I doing this? What has changed? Should I just give up?."
The answer is no, because let me tell you, you are not alone in this feeling. It's called 'activist burnout' and I can guarantee that every person who cares passionately about any issue has experienced it.
But there are always ways to get yourself back in the right headspace. All of us here at 1 Million Women know what it feels like to lose hope and find it again, so we've put together a list of coping strategies that work for us. Hopefully they work for you too!
Listen to yourself
You will know when you're needing self care because it's that sinking feeling we often try to hide or ignore. That strong desire to take a break and opt out isn't just your mind being difficult. It's trying to tell you something. Self care isn't a self indulgent privilege, it is practical and important. It plays an integral role in our ability to continue to support and champion our causes. It might seem like a good idea to keep pushing through because nothing is more important than your cause but you won't work at your best if you're stressed and frustrated. So, take a breath and listen to your mind and body! You are not a bad person or a bad activist for feeling this way, you probably just need a break.
Take time for yourself
Unplug, detach, veg. Do what works best for you, be that binging on Netflix or going for a run, calling an old friend or grabbing a meal with pals. Write in a journal, Journal, practice mindfulness, meditate, cook a meal, do yoga, connect with your environment, be tech free for a while, shower, read, have a nap! And if short term breaks don't seem like the answer, try and get away for a while. Whether camping of 5 star hotels are more your style, remove yourself for a day or two (or ten if you can!) and give yourself permission to relax and enjoy life.
Surround yourself with supportive people
Unfortunately we can't remove ourselves from society and live in the wilderness forever, so when you return from your time out, make sure you connect with people who are with you, not against you. We cannot stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with people who support your choices and progress. Whether it's friends who share your environmental passions who you can talk about your burnout with or just close family and friends who might not be activists but love and support whatever you do regardless - actively search for those people and hold them close.
Focus on hope
This may sound corny, but hear us out. Hope is so important and it can be easy to lose when you feel overwhelmed and/or helpless. Just know that everything you do helps. It doesn't matter how small, or insignificant it seems, it's better to do something than to not do something. Even if that action seems small. Not using a straw at the bar could save the life of a turtle. Taking your reusable bags to the shop might inspire the cashier to bring theirs next time. You never know the flow on effect your actions can have so the best option is to just keep going.
Know your limits
Now that you're refreshed, relaxed, surrounded by loving friends and family and feeling hopeful, it's time to get back on the horse. But make sure you learn from your mistakes. If you were feeling burnt out, it probably means you were taking on too much. So when you work your way back into your activism take it bit by bit and don't overwhelm yourself. You can say no and don't have to feel guilty. It's important to accept that you can't do everything so instead of spreading yourself thin, stick with one or two events or ideas to put your time and brainpower into.
Play the long game
Treat your self care tactics as ways to prevent burnout rather than cure it over and over again. Be mindful to practice your self care tactics and look out for the warning signs. If you treat your activism like this you're more likely to be able to commit to causes for longer and really follow through on your ideas which means in the end you will make more of a difference! Saving the world is a marathon not a sprint and we need everyone running the race so don't wear yourself out too early!
We hope this helps keep the activism blues at bay and reminds everyone that your actions are powerful! And remember, if in doubt, you can always turn to the 1 Million Women community in times of need 💖
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We're in a climate emergency and it's going to take all of us to get out of it. That's why 1 Million Women is building a global community of women committed to fighting climate change with our daily actions. To join the (free) movement just click the button below!