Seven ways to avoid burnout
Evie Marshall discusses how to care of yourself while achieving your goals, both as a student and an activist.
We invest much of our vitality into achieving our goals and bringing about positive change in the world, but forget to give our own body and mind the attentiveness they deserve. Lacking self-care, we may feel bombarded by an endless flow of tasks and barriers to overcome. This leads to burnout.
As an activist, the very compassion that drives one to fight injustice may cause us to run out of steam if we don’t exercise self-compassion too. The tips in the article can help you to replenish your enthusiasm, joy and energy for your cause. They can also help students in general who are feeling the weight of their workload.
Our free time doesn’t all have to be about personal development. Stillness and relaxation are productive. You may enjoy painting, cooking, going to museums, bathing, music, or family time. It may only take a cup of our favourite tea to decompress sometimes. Whatever it is, we all need an activity we can lose ourselves in – some downtime amid the busyness of our lives. Carve out some time to simply be and don’t feel bad about doing so.
We all too often focus on what went wrong and how we could have done things better. While this helps us to improve, if we dwell in this mindset it can also lead to mental problems. Gratitude is medicine.
How often do we take a moment to count our blessings, to acknowledge all the things that went right and all the things we wouldn’t like to be without? This simple practice has profound effects on our well being, thoughts, and therefore our lives. Gratitude is an “Antidote to Dissatisfaction“.
For example, as a student: What motivates you to study your subject? What excites you about the future? What are your favourite aspects of your study day/routine? Focus on these things and allow them to grow.
We cannot have a fit and healthy mind without a fit and healthy body, and vice versa. You don’t have go to the gym five times a week or run marathons. Just stay active: walk places, do some morning/evening stretches, take up dancing or yoga. Exercising our body releases endorphins and invigorates our minds, pulling us out of our heads and into our bodies, which helps to calm our thoughts and promote clarity.
It’s easy to get caught up in negative emotions. As students, we want to learn new things and expand our knowledge. As activists, we aim to increase happiness and joy in the world. If we constantly feed our worry, sadness and anger, then we are out of touch with what we are trying to cultivate. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile, laughter, and sympathetic joy.
Caring for body and mind are not mutually exclusive. Eat well, feel well. Mindful consumption has a positive effect on our mood and energy. My advice? Eat the rainbow! And you know I’m not talking about skittles…
Eating the right foods can optimise our bodies natural feel-good capacity. Consider moderating your consumption of addictive and instantly rewarding things e.g. junk food, social media, and alcohol. This will improve your focus. Care for your mind and body with responsible consumption. Things are more enjoyable in moderation, anyway.
Spend time in nature
This may be one of the best ways to rejuvenate our productivity and vitality. We are a part of nature and should take the time to get grounded and connected. This can be as simple as taking a walk through a forest, meadow, park or field. Immerse yourself in these settings. Get out of your head and into the moment.
The benefits of time in nature are astounding. Check out Forest Bathing and its benefits. Also, the sounds of nature are said to increase neurogenesis – the growth and development of new brain cells.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Activist burnout arises from not taking time to simply be. We have trained ourselves to ruminate on the past and worry about the future. The present moment is the only place where we can take control of our lives and enjoy it. Anything you do can be a form of meditation: just focus your attention on the sensations of your experience in the present moment.
Not only do we train our minds to focus on one thing at a time, but we also improve our stress response, sensory perception, and memory. All of this, plus an overall heightened sense of well being, is an essential component of self-care and success.
We should take time out to re-cooperate to avoid growing exhausted and drained. Only then can we thrive and create positive change. If you care about progress towards something, take care of yourself and positive momentum will follow.