In the activism space, putting your advocacy before your own wellbeing is a very common occurrence… Today I’m talking about those in the sustainability realm, but this occurs within all causes and all forms of activism too.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you spend each and every day learning about the devastation going on in the world; the destruction, the deadlines and the huge amount of work that needs to be done in order to save the planet. Trust me, fighting for a solution that will solve the climate crisis isn’t exactly the easiest thing to grasp…
Fighting for injustice and putting all of your time and energy into taking action is draining just as much as it is empowering.
What I’ve recently learned, is that there’s a huge emotional cost to being conscious… Constantly seeing headlines such as “One million species threatened with extinction because of humans“, or “CO2 levels at their highest for 3 million years“, or “Humans damaging the environment faster than it can recover“, or “Human civilisation will crumble by 2050“… It’s impossible not to feel the hit.
It’s so severe that a new term has recently been coined that refers to the feeling in which so many of us are beginning to face. And that’s… Climate Anxiety.
This term refers to the stress and fear that people experience due to climate breakdown and the negative environmental changes that are occurring around the world. We fear what life will be like in 10-15 years time, we fear what life will be like for future generations, and we fear for our own lives in general. I’ve certainly felt it, and I’m sure many of you have too!
It’s become so prevalent that the American Psychological Association created a 69-page climate-change guide to help mental health care providers treat their clients…
The problem with eco-anxiety is that it often results in activists totally disengaging and putting up a wall. I don’t know about you, but when I spend 95% of my time absorbing disheartening information, facts, statistics and the like, I feel like curling up in a ball and shutting off from the world.
Sacrificing so much of your time and energy into tackling a cause can leave a damaging toll on your mental health. But what you MUST remember, is that there’s only so much that you can allow yourself to sacrifice.
The world of activism and advocacy work can be deeply fulfilling. But it can also leave people who do this work feeling empty and powerless – Bustle
When you start to feel this way, this is your body’s cue to hit the reset button! Eco-anxiety doesn’t have to be something that we live with… Caring for the planet is important, yes! But in reality, nothing is more important than your own wellbeing.
If you are not feeling 100% (physically or mentally), your work, your message, your advocacy and your happiness will never be 100% either.
Although there’s undoubtedly a lot of work that needs to be done, we must remember that those things will never be done effectively unless we are feeling our best. So please, don’t allow yourself to get to the point of burnout… Try to find a balance that allows you to take care of yourself, whilst still taking care of the causes that mean the most to you.
Be kind to yourself, read a book, go outside and breath in the fresh air, give yourself regular breaks, practice daily self care, listen to your body, do the things that you LOVE! Seek help and advice when it’s needed so that you can be the very best version of you.
Remember who you are and focus on what you love about life. Try to look at the positives rather than focusing on the negatives, and search for a sense of homeostasis within yourself. When the environment around you is crumbling, the best thing you can do is rise up and find stability from within.
Don’t let your activism become your identity and learn to separate yourself from your work. Allow yourself to breathe. Absorb things that aren’t related to your activism. Let your mind switch off, and try not to let that anger, frustration, passion and drive turn into something dangerous. It’s far more important than you might assume.
I’m going to leave you with the cheesiest of all cheesy quotes, and I want you to really take them in:
“You gotta nourish to flourish”
“You’ve got to sustain yourself in order to sustain your message”
“You can’t pour from an empty cup”
If you want to fight the good fight, the VERY first thing you should focus on… Is yourself! If you aren’t thriving, nothing else that you do will thrive.
It’s ok to not be an activist all the time. It’s ok to not tackle every single issue. It’s ok to not be ‘perfect’. Only fight the battles that you know you can do well, and which aren’t going to negatively affect your wellbeing.
A message from me to you, put yourself first! You’ll be a better activist because of it… ♡
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