IAM’s Wheel of Change in Focus: Care for Changemakers

Support and care is an important key to IAM’s theory of change. At IAM our team is our greatest asset. Part of building a sustainable organisation is to make sure that staff take care of themselves – mentally, spiritually and physically. We work in a hostile religious, social and political environment, therefore taking care of ourselves is of utmost importance.

In the process of working towards justice, the inclusion of all, building bridges and taking care of those on the margins, it is easy to lose oneself in this struggle. Before you know it, BURNOUT (physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion) is before your door. It is each individual’s responsibility to make sure you take care of yourself.

What could be some of the warning signs of burnout?

  • Every “curveball” becomes a major issue.
  • You are more easily irritated/annoyed.
  • Chronic low energy and exhaustion.
  • Getting sick more frequently.
  • You have a hard time sleeping.
  • Can’t remember when you had a day off and/or it feels strange when you take a day off.
  • Physical strain in the eyes, jaw or abdomen or having headaches.

What can you do about it?

If you’re worried that you’re suffering from burnout or see burnout approaching, IAM has some suggestions from our experience that can help undo the damage and create a plan to help you in the future:

  • Take responsibility for your own wellbeing.
  • Educate yourself about the warning signs.
  • Claim back your sacred space – a space you call home, where you can just be, a place where your spirit can catch up with your body, a place of rest, reflection, meditation, reading, praying, writing, meaningful conversations with a loved one. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and honest in where you find yourself.
  • Own your emotions and create a space to express it in a meaningful manner, such as debriefing with a colleague or loved one.
  • Make sure you are eating healthily and regularly.
  • Get some exercise – whatever works for your body e.g. take regular walks, join a gym or hiking club, go for a swim.
  • Explore what rejuvenates you and implement that hobby/activity into your schedule e.g. baking, gardening, sitting in nature, writing, go on a retreat etc.
  • Disconnect from social media, turn of your laptop/computer and phone – take a break from technology.
  • If possible, take some leave and plan your annual leave as far as possible in advance – you know more or less when you need a break.
  • If need be don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
  • Find someone to talk to – a mentor/ spiritual advisor/ good friend/ your partner etc. It is also helpful to talk to a mental health professional/psychologist who could provide and objective view and offer some solutions.
  • Make self-care part of your daily rhythm.

We need you to be in the best form (holistically) possible to continue the struggle for justice for all. Take care!

Some helpful links