Taking a Break from Saving the World: A Conservation Activist’s Journey from Burnout to Balance

Stephen Legault, Rocky Mountain Books; 1st edition, April 2020

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A veteran of burnout himself, Legault looks at the culture of self-sacrifice that permeates the work done by volunteers and paid staff in the environmental conservation movement, and dissects how to manage our own time, energy, and commitment to our causes. Following a river-running metaphor, and proposing a variety of techniques to help with various states of anxiety resulting from burnout, including clarity of purpose, recognition of limits, fitness and diet, meditation and yoga, as well as organizational structural changes such as leave-of-absence policies, Legault encourages readers to find time to “eddy out”―to rest a moment in quieter waters and scout downriver―to ensure our lifetime of engagement is fulfilling, effective, and self-sustaining.

Just as with teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, paramedics, steelworkers, students, and airline pilots, burnout is a growing concern in many social-change circles. This book takes a look at the impacts of eco-anxiety, over-work, and the associated stress surrounding the present and future state of the environment and offers practical and insightful suggestions on how to deal with it.

Stephen Legault is a full-time conservation activist, writer, photographer, and organizational development consultant. He is the author of Running Toward Stillness, a meditation on Buddhist spiritual practice, running, and parenthood, as well as several photography books, including Earth and Sky: Photographs and Stories from Montana and Alberta and Where Rivers Meet: Photographs and Stories from the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Country.

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