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Stress and burnout

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Holding our groups together in hard times

When social change campaigns experience setbacks it’s understandable this can lead to difficulties in activist groups. Here are some tips and further resources for holding groups together in hard times.

People stand in a line in front of a crowd. Their tshirts each have a letter spelling out INDIVISIBLE.

How to build a resilient culture of resistance in hard times

US activist and educator Daniel Hunter shares important tips for sustaining ourselves and our movements in the face of challenging times. He outlines seven behaviors that we could incorporate into our groups so we can keep taking powerful and strategic actions.

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Sustaining ourselves as activists

Activist wisdom has been gathered from a survey of nearly 200 about how to sustain ourselves as activists. A great list from those who have been there.

Cover of the Pt'chang Nonviolent Community Safety and Peacebuilding Handbook

Nonviolent Community Safety and Peacebuilding Handbook

This handbook is a handy and unique resource for activists and community workers engaged in work for peace at a community level throughout Australia. It includes practical ways to intervene in violence, to transform conflict and to build peace.

Coffee is poured from a metal jug into a large and unstable stack of coffee cups sitting on a wooden table.

Balance or Burnout?

What causes burnout? There are two characteristics needed, and they apply across all levels of scale, from individual through group, to planetary burnout or health. The first requirement is a culture where a naturally self balancing system is heading out of balance. The second requirement is that signals of distress or deterioration are ignored.

Cover of 'In the Tigers Mouth'.

In the Tiger’s Mouth: Activism, Self-Awareness, Self Care

A review of Katrina Shield’s ‘In The Tiger’s Mouth: An Empowerment Guide for Social Action’. What most distinguishes this books is its emphasis on three elements not often considered in other campaigning texts: self-awareness, collaboration, and self-care.

Close up photo of three hands holding small autumn leaves.

Group Strategies to Prevent Stress and Burnout

A group’s culture can have a big impact on the likelihood of stress and burnout for members and staff. It’s possible to create a group culture that supports self-care, balance and sustainable work loads and patterns.

Stress Management and Burnout Prevention

High stress levels and burnout are very common among grassroots activists and community workers. Stress management and physical, emotional and spiritual renewal is crucial to looking after ourselves for the long haul.

The silhouette of a person standing by a lake at sunset. The trees on the other side of the lake are reflected in the water, and the overall effect is calm but a bit lonely.

Hey Activists, R U OK?

The annual R U OK Day aims to prevent suicide by building connection. This articles looks at what individuals and groups engaged in social change can do to connect with and look out for others.

A cup of black tea on a table, shot from above

Coming down from stress

To be fresh and ready for the challenges of social change we also need quality time off. Here are some tips for getting the  most out of a break, whether a longer holiday, weekends or any captured moment for potential relaxation.

Arial view of a road through a forrest. The road curls back on itself, changing directly completely.

Hope and Activist Burnout

Experiencing defeats contributes to many people losing hope, burning out, or just dropping out of activism. If we can set up our organisations and social movements to function effectively we’re more likely to foster hope and keep engaged and emotionally strong activists.

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Ideas for Embodied Activism

Overwhelming events happen and depending on our degree of privilege, daily stressors can be constant. Unless we are in crisis and/or an immediate life threatening situation it’s incredibly beneficial to spend time cultivating resources which support your health, embodiment, connectedness and feelings goodness.

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Review: Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit first wrote Hope in the Dark in 2004. Here Matt Ross reviews the American author’s arguments for keeping the faith in times of despair. Sitting in a hipster yoga retreat in Bali, sweating and occasionally scratching the red mosquito bites clustering on my ankles, I met Nick Davis. Nick was a shirtless and […]

A stack of five books of different sizes, sitting on a table, taken from their base so you can't see the titles.

Review: Our Hearts in Transition

Holly Hammond reviews The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins – with emphasis on its insights around the emotional and psychological impact of climate change and peak oil. What would working to change the world be like if it made more room for the ‘heart’? How do we communicate challenging information to people in ways that […]

Coffee is poured from a metal jug into a large and unstable stack of coffee cups sitting on a wooden table.

Personal ‘traps’ that contribute to activist burnout

This article explores some of the ‘cognitive errors’ or ‘traps’ that contribute to activist burnout. Read through this list and see if you might need to adjust your perspective, in the interests of your health, wellbeing and effectiveness.  Here are some ‘traps’ I’ve noticed activists can fall into – many of which I’m familiar with […]

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What motivates us to engage in activism

This article summarises findings from a survey that Plan to Thrive did with nearly 200 activists in 2014. In the Plan to Thrive Activist Health and Wellbeing Survey we asked ‘what motivates you to engage in activism’? The answers around this question were surprising similar and also point to the common idea that activists are […]

The silhouette of a person standing by a lake at sunset. The trees on the other side of the lake are reflected in the water, and the overall effect is calm but a bit lonely.

Impacts of activism on health and wellbeing

This article summarises findings from a survey that Plan to Thrive did with nearly 200 activists in 2014. The second question in the survey was ‘how does your activism impact on your health and wellbeing’? Of the 151 responses to this particular question there were some definite trends, as well as a few outlying responses […]