of an ex-Burnout
By Jack Norris
When I started my animal rights activist career
in 1989, I tried to do anything and everything. Sometimes I would write
40 letters a week in addition to trying to protest every event related
to animal cruelty (fur sales, places where fur-wearers would be, circuses,
rodeos, product testing, etc.). After a couple years, I found myself
exhausted by the steady stream of issues that needed attention.
Today, the Internet has turned that steady stream into a tidal wave.
To even glance at all the emails that need urgent attention can take
a big chunk out of the daynot to mention actually doing something
So how is it that one can stay active for animals and avoid burnout
or outright insanity?
I try to pick activities that take very little preparation. For example,
organizing a talk about vegetarianism can be quite time-consuming if
you are going to get a decent crowd of newcomersif you are lucky,
you might get 60 people to attend. On the other hand, grabbing 300
pamphlets and walking around a college campus passing them out can
take as little as an hour, and you will reach many people who would
have considered going to a presentation.
If you have people to help, it will take less time. But dont
counteract the time-savings by spending hours calling people to get
them to help
(unless you want to, of course).
And if you are going to avoid burnout while leafleting, dont decide
to do it at a different college every day. I suggest making a goal of
leafleting a college every two weeksor whatever you know wont
stress you out.
For protests, campaigns, letter-writing, phone-calling, etc., I have
the following suggestions:
You may be able to pinpoint certain issues or individual cases
that you want to work on more than others. Listen to your desires as
they will likely lead to your most effective form of activism which
will reduce your stress and anxiety. If you dont like doing certain
things, it will only burn you out to continue doing them.
Dont expect a quick victory. When you start, think it through
in terms of what you will do when things do not go your way, so that
you wont be so surprised and let down. Dont get attached
to the outcome. In some situations, you are simply playing a numbers
game. If you reach enough people, eventually some will change. So do
what you can and let it go.
Possibly most important of all is to slow down and take your
time. Try even to enjoy the process rather than just to get it done.
Good luck with all your efforts for animals!
Jack Norris is a Director of Vegan Outreach. He has a degree
in Nutrition and Dietetics. He can be contacted through www.veganoutreach.org.