Preventing Burnout: keeping the movement alive


Preventing burnout: keeping the movement alive

[illustration of a Woman of Color with a raised fist, holding up a sign in her other hand]

What is burnout?

Burnout is the experience of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion often caused by longterm involvement in emotionally demanding situations.

Effects of burnout on a movement

In a 2015 study it was observed that roughly half of activists who experienced burnout did not take a break or hiatus. Instead, they ended up leaving the movement for good.

Why is burnout common among activists?

Research has highlighted burnout among activists is usually caused by the setting of unrealistically high standards for oneself.

Activists commonly feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, with a heightened sense of self accountability, empathy, and guilt.

Tips to fight burnout

1. Identify your feelings.

Symptoms of burnout can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Isolation
  • Iritability
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Pessimism
  • Disappointment
  • Numbness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of motivation
  • Physical pain/Sickness

[illustration of a woman looking out a window and holding a warm beverage]

2. Talk to a trusted confidant

Whether a therapist or a friend, sometimes taking the opportunity to let out our thoughts and feelings with someone who understands us can alleviate stress, or point us in a direction we may not have yet considered.

[illustration of two people talking over mobile video call]

3. Find healthy outlets

Work on a coping bank, a go-to list of activities and behaviors that give you a sense of fulfillment, relief, and replenishment when you're feeling burnout.

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4. Learn when to step back

While your voice is valuable, know that many others are willing to carry on the work you have done, until you're reading to step back in.

[illustration of woman lying on her stomach at night, typing on a laptop]


[illustration of a woman holding up a sign, which reads:]

“Just don't give up what you're trying to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.”
- Ella Fitzgerald