E-Advocates #15 – Keeping Advocate Burnout at Bay! | Emmaus Homes

E-Advocates #15 

Keeping Advocate Burnout at Bay! 

April 15, 2024 | Blog by Christina Ingoglia

We are more than halfway through the Missouri Legislative Session, which ends May 17th. Because we are sharply focused on Missouri budget issues that affect Emmaus and other developmental disability service providers, we’ve had to go to Jefferson City frequently and be in contact with our State Senators and Representatives more than is typical for the rest of the year. The budget must be passed by both the House and Senate by May 10th. With all of this work—and driving!—burn out feels like it could be imminent for many advocates, including me, no matter how passionate we are.  

Illustration of a frustrated woman sitting at a desk with her hands on her face in front of a laptop, surrounded by scribbled symbols of chaos, including swirls, lightning bolts, question marks, and exclamation points.So, how do you find peace and take a break (even if small) during this chaotic time of legislative session? Here are a few tips: 

1. Step away from the computer/phone/state legislature communication/news article or blog about the Legislature. It’s okay to drop out and turn off for a few hours, or even a whole day. Mondays and Fridays are typically great week days to do this as the Legislature usually is not in session those days—although as we get closer to the end of session this does change. A break from all of the Jeff City work (and drama) will make you eager to return to it all.  

2. Lean on Others: Legislative advocacy or any other type of advocacy requires tenacity, time, and energy. No one claims wins singlehandedly! When you need to step back, even briefly, trust that others will step forward to give you a break. Build a culture at work, home, or in the community that supports this through delegation and honesty.

3. Have a hobby that makes you focus on that and nothing else? Do it! Even 30 minutes a few days a week to focus on something else will help you when you’re grinding out long days in Jefferson City or from home. 

4. Self-care. PERIOD. Make sure you take walking breaks on any day to get your steps in (though this won’t be necessary on days you are at the Capitol!). Drink water, eat foods that nourish you, and listen to music that calms you or an audio book that simply entertains you. Schedule a mani/pedi, if that’s your thing, whether you do it at home or in a salon. Do a short yoga workout from YouTube. 

5. Sleep Hygiene! Technically, this also falls under self-care, but it’s so very important. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each night. Create rituals for yourself that signal it’s time to relax before hitting the hay. I love to light a candle and do a few rounds of intentional breathing exercises.  

6. With or without a mirror, use self-reflection. Honestly, there are days when it’s unclear what we are doing is making a difference, or at least it can feel that way. Give yourself grace and list ways you have made steps, big or small, in the right direction! For me, I look at our data and see how many new Emmaus Advocates have joined us, or how many successful meetings with legislators we’ve held. All of that counts, even if it doesn’t change immediate outcomes. As an Emmaus volunteer advocate, you should think about what you’ve done that you’d never done before. Have you gone to Jeff City and met with your state legislators for the first time ever? That’s a win! Attended a coffee for change and worked on an elevator pitch to give legislators? Another win! Count them all. Write them down daily or once a week. Review them and add to them. These will keep you going in the short and long run.  

By recharging as you can, you’ll be a stronger advocate who recognizes this work is a marathon—not a sprint!  

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