Re-exploring activist burnout: Finding common ground and breaking the silence

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

It's been almost a year and a half since I last touched on activist burnout, specifically in the youth demographic.

In that time I've been fortunate to have my perspective expand and evolve, thanks to an abundance of, often late night, conversations with close friends. Finding common ground in burnout experience makes it easier to break that silence.

For the past while, my focus has been on community building.

What does that mean? What is a progressive community composed of? How does one use an intersectional approach in community and selfcare?

These questions have been in my mind as I have surveyed the landscape of various community spaces and their struggles to survive across Canada. In doing so, I have clung to the viewpoint that community building -- and stewardship -- is vital to a thriving activist community and should have just as much emphasis as mobilization and organization within our various causes.

On Saturday, September 21st, I helped to organize the workshop "From Burnout to Community and Selfcare" with Alyson Budd. Its purpose being merely to open up the floor for conversation around burnout, in both activist and artist communities, and to hopefully disperse this dialogue into various circles around the city.

The format was loose, to (hopefully) provide a safe space that could allow room for everyone who wants to speak about how they define and experience burnout and strategies for building communities that can help to prevent it.

This also included an introduction to compiling project Action Plans. Participants were invited to bring community project goals, along with personal goals, to the table and plot the baby steps required to implement them, referencing personal tools to combat mental fatigue in the process.

Recording our emotional maps is just as necessary as making note of our social justice goals. Without the emotional grounding, our social justice goals bear risk of losing fuel.

One thing that stuck out for me in all of this, is how selfcare can be a tool of social change, in and of itself. For example, I wasn't really aware of the concept and strategies surrounding selfcare until after I really needed them.

We're simply not taught anything about our bodies and their limitations in our school systems. We live in a state of go-go-go and as soon as we've carried the load for far too long and we've nothing left to give, we feel a sense of guilt when we're unable to commit anymore. Unsurprisingly, this cycle doesn't really work all that well.

And of course, as Kim Crosby explains in Self-Care DIY: A How-to Just for You, the same system that is sacrificial to our emotional and mental health, will accentuate the various oppressions that are already prevalent.

We need to be able to create more spaces to learn about each other's stories and work together in order to address the systems of advantage that shame genderqueer folks when they go see a doctor, the same system that doesn't include education for and by First Nations people in our curriculum and the same system that disproportionately incarcerates people of color. 

By taking back time as we take back public space, we are defining our own narratives, well-beings and those of our beloved communities. If we can effectively harness the power and skills we bring to political organizing and lend it to our strategies of self and community care, really nothing can stop us.

So was the workshop successful?

I hope so. It's all just the beginning of the type of mobilization around community selfcare I would love to see happen around the city -- and that I intend to keep working on.

With the number of amazing conversations I have had in the past while, this wave of dialogue around selfcare is growing. Stay tuned. 

Interested in continuing this dialogue in activist canada? Email [email protected] if you have any project/discussion ideas.

Image: From Burnout to Community and Selfcare event

Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.