Avoiding Activism Burnout in Maumelle, AR

Regardless which side of the political fence you fall on, recent months have been fraught with causes pulling for our attention. Environmental debates, bathrooms, feminism, immigration, and intersectional equality are just a handful of the issues demanding our attention. If, like so many, you want to do your part to create a better world, it’s likely that you’ve spent no small part of your time lately commenting on social media, talking with friends and family, and considering your elected officials to determine whether they are accurately representing your views on issues both physical and ideological.

The downside to this constant vigilance is the high potential for burnout. We hear about burnout all the time, though we often associate it with work. Some professions are particularly prone to burnout, particularly those that are in service to others—nurses, lawyers, teachers, massage therapists—because when all our attention is focused on helping others, we often forget to take time to care for ourselves. Taking time each day to relax and do something we enjoy may feel selfish when there are so many things that still need our attention. Who cares about getting a massage when our students need more feedback to succeed? Why should I take time for a nap when I could be writing my congressman?

Even if you’re not an “activist,” social media, with its proliferation of article shares and updates from all sides, can make it difficult to get a mental break from the recent political turmoil. Social media plays no small part in the burnout many are experiencing, and the reason is simple: many of us now turn to social media to connect with friends and find interesting information or funny cat videos. But lately, instead of social media offering a respite, it now frequently taxes our mental energy even further. Constant expenditure of mental energy, particularly in the current climate, is a huge contributor to burnout of all types. Time that might normally be spent relaxing and rejuvenating may instead be spent focusing on issues you’d like to see changed. If social media has shown your social circle does not share your values in areas you find important, the perceived isolation can also take its toll.

Here’s the thing: burnout is a real issue, and if left untreated, it can cause anxiety, depression, lethargy, fatigue, and substance abuse. If it’s work related, the person may even decide to drop out of their professional or volunteer role to protect their psyche and physical health.

To prevent burnout, be it caused by social media, work, volunteering, or another area of your life, there are steps you can take:

  • Limit your social media exposure. While it’s certainly reasonable to check in once a day, constantly checking social media to find articles and comments from friends—that you may or may not agree with—can lead to burnout and its negative mental and physical symptoms.
  • Work toward accepting the fact that you can’t change everyone immediately. Some people will always disagree with you, and while it’s okay to take steps to try and clarify your point of view to those individuals, ongoing arguments, particularly those rooted in anger, are not likely to change minds or help your feelings.
  • Consider some exercise. In almost every situation, exercise can help people deal more effectively with stress.
  • Find a community that you can confide in and find support with. A community that shares your ideals will help keep you grounded in why you got involved in the first place.
  • Consider counseling. Thriveworks Maumelle counselors can help you learn skills to create healthy boundaries, address any issues in your past that are driving you to overwork, and figure out which self-care activities are best for you.

It’s admirable to feel invested in causes, whether you mostly post and respond on social media or take a more active role. But, it’s important to be able to take a step back. Otherwise, you won’t be the first person who withdraws completely from what was once a passion. Practice yoga, take walks in the park, hang out with your dog, take a hot bath—whatever helps you relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with the world and yourself. And remember—self-care is a practice. You may not be balanced on day one, but you can work toward it so you’re able to live a life that expresses your truest values.

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