Managing “burn out”

What drives us to it, what are the signs of "burn out" and beginning to look at how we can avoid it

We held our peer support group meeting this month, and we talked about managing burn out from working in this sector, working with the media and/or handling exhaustion from activism. We blog about some of the reflections and thoughts gathered from these meetings in the hope that they’re useful for people engaging with the topic of sexual and domestic abuse and the media. Journalists and broadcasters may find these useful too.

What are the signs?

  • You’re approaching work you normally love with dread or anxiety. You’re feeling like you should be doing something, rather than wanting to.
  • Your environment becomes untidy e.g. your desk, your bedroom, your kitchen.
  • Missing meals, feeling clunky, dissociated, forgetful or over caffeinated.
  • Saying ‘yes’ to things that you don’t want to do. Pressures of being a freelancer.
  • Feeling guilty about stopping work, because it’s so important to you, and you want to be doing the best you can do.

How to avoid it

  • Knowing that it’s okay to have a duvet day or day at home. Don’t try and work, just take some time to relax.
  • Not feeling guilty or thinking that it’s bad to work really hard. If it feels good, then it’s fine to work the odd 20 hour day. It’s all about what works for you.
  • Listening to your body, recognising when it’s time to stop or if you’re okay to keep going.
  • Writing down how you’re feeling. Putting your emotions into artwork, stories, performance. Exercising.
  • Pausing for a second to review the situation. Would stepping back from something or saying no make you feel better?
  • Change what you’re reading. Find something totally unrelated. Stop reading or responding to emails that are likely to upset or cause further burn out.
  • Have a bath, listen to a radio show, spend a Friday night in.
  • Take back control. If you’re not healthy, you’re not able to do this work.

For more resources and tips for activists engaging with the media visit our resources page.

For tips on covering these issues visit our blog for journalists.

If you’d like to hear more about the peer support group meetings and what’s involved, please contact us.