Working for animal rights is no small task, and sometimes, it may seem like the challenges are almost insurmountable. One of the most helpful things to do when you’re looking up the mountain at the distance we have left to go is to turn around and appreciate how far we’ve come.
Many of us used to get down when there were few vegan options at fast-food chains or other restaurants. Now, you can get animal-friendly food nearly everywhere. Once upon a time, we were despondent about the prevalence of fur. Now, we’ve retired the “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign, because animal fur is disappearing from the fashion world.
On days when you need extra encouragement, try going to PETA’s milestones page and reading about the many wins for animals that we’ve accomplished together. Or try one of the following ideas that PETA staffers shared with attendees at our virtual animal rights conference in July about ways they de-stress, stay energized, and keep up the good fight for animal rights:
“My friend once asked, ‘Does it help the dogs out there in the cold when you lie awake at night, agonizing over them. No! Does it help you? No!’ So, she said, banish the thought, replace it with thoughts of happy things, recite a mantra, get a good night’s sleep, and awake in the morning refreshed enough to go help them!” —Ingrid Newkirk
“For me, the most important thing is daily exercise—I ride a stationary bike or run outside six mornings a week. Gratitude counts a lot—I am actively grateful for how lucky I am to be able to do things for animals who need us so desperately. Also, making sure to have a laugh every single day is very important. It might be just a meme, a joke, a funny podcast, book, or TV show, because laughing releases endorphins in the brain that promote a sense of well-being.” —Tracy Reiman
“When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I watch one of PETA’s bear rescue videos. I see those bears finally able to hibernate and not have their cubs ripped away, and it makes me happy. I try never to wallow in what I can’t do right now but remind myself of what patient, thorough work actually achieves. And how important it is to play the long game. I remember giving out pamphlets outside of a Ringling circus when I was 21 and how our collective perseverance destroyed them.” —Christina Matthies
“I have a garden, and I may be planting the bulbs upside down for all I know about gardening, but I’m loving it—it’s a great relaxer!” —Steve Kehrli
“I keep a gratitude journal and write down five things I’m thankful for each day.” —Pamela Loureiro
“When I wake up in the morning, I stretch elaborately while I’m still in bed. Dogs do it. Cats do it. I do it, too!” —Karin Bennett
“If you’re feeling down and you don’t already work directly with animals, I would try to find a way to interact with them to remind yourself exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing and for whom. At PETA, we can sign up to do evening dog walking or local straw delivery or volunteer in other ways. Local shelters usually need help wherever you are—same with farmed animal rescues. It’s kind of immediate gratification, but it can give you a good feeling while doing something good.” —Jes Cochran
How do you cope with burnout? Please share your own tips and techniques in the comments, and be sure to watch the full class video for many more ideas on staying optimistic and healthy—because animals need you!