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July/August 2001
Tips for Preventing Burnout

By Joan Zacharias


• Don’t mourn, organize! The last words of the great labor organizer Joe Hill before his execution early last century still ring true. Let your sorrow for the victims of oppression fuel your activism. Nothing will change if you are paralyzed by guilt, unending grief and despair. Dwell on solutions, not suffering.

• Campaign to win. Translate your ultimate goal into something you can accomplish today or tomorrow. You can’t end all animal abuse today, but you have a good shot at convincing your cafeteria to offer more vegan options. Get involved in an existing campaign—or start one of your own. Choose something you enjoy. Winning even small battles can give you momentum, energy and inspiration to go on.

• Pace yourself. Think long-run. You can’t operate in crisis mode all the time. Whatever the issue, you can be sure that it’s not the whole world or the last campaign. Take time to pause, listen to your heart, and then act.

• Embrace friends, food and fun. Share your worries and feelings. Celebrate victories. Run your ideas by others. You are not alone! Even people who are not connected with your particular issue can be valuable “reality checks” and sources of ideas and inspiration. Don’t neglect yourself, your partner or your companion animals. When adrenaline is high, eat like a fruitarian. When calm returns, feast on luscious vegan food prepared with love and gusto. Sing in the shower, make love, play with your cats, giggle with your kids.

• Move. These days activists spend way too much time behind the computer. Get out of the house and move your body! Hike, bike, walk on the beach, skinny dip, do yoga, stretch. Connect with nature, breathe fresh air, notice the seasons. You will gain perspective and renew yourself for the long journey ahead.

Joan Zacharias is a campaigner for social justice and animal rights living in Chatham, NY.


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