Relieving Burnout and the “Martyr Syndrome” Among Social Justice Education Activists: The Implications and Effects of Mindfulness
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Activist burnout, which causes activists to disengage from their activism, is a formidable barrier to the sustainability of social justice movements, including those focused on social justice in educational contexts. However, the cultures of these movements often disregard the importance of self-care, seeing it as self-indulgence, putting activists at even higher risks of burnout. In this study, one of the first to assess the impact of specific self-care strategies on activist burnout, data from interviews with 14 social justice education activists are analyzed in order to uncover how they used mindfulness practices such as yoga, tai-chi, and meditation to cope with burnout. The analysis revealed a variety of ways in which mindfulness mitigated their burnout experiences. It revealed, as well, a shared perception that, beyond helping to sustain their activism, mindfulness made them more effective activists.
KeywordsSocial justice Activism Burnout Mindfulness Well-being
This study was funded in part by a mini-grant from the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University.
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