I don't have to tell anyone who already works in animal rescue that it's an exhausting, and often times, thankless job. For every happy story, there seems to be ten that end sadly, which can wear on even the strongest of people.
Perhaps that why the burnout rate in animal rescue is remarkably high (per one of my wife's social worker books, which, by the way, is another industry with a high burnout rate - we're made for each other, huh?).
What can you do to help prevent it getting the best of you? Here are a few tips...
1 - Get Your Own Life In Order - It's amazing to me how many people involved in animal rescue have such precarious personal situations (e.g. unemployed, broke, sick, etc). The stress of your personal life is not only affecting your life now, but will continue to add up, resulting in additional health problems later on, causing you to either curtail your work with the animals or even be forced to quit. How exactly will this help the animals?
2 - Spend Some Time With People Not Associated With Animal Rescue - Any time I hang out with someone involved in animal rescue, the conversation ALWAYS ends up being about the ACC or the "business" in general. And rarely is it to discuss all the happy stories. My suggestion is to hang out more with people not involved in rescue OR at least make a promise when hanging with rescue peeps to NOT discuss anything rescue related once on a while. If you're stuck, here are a few things to talk about....
a - Does the "God Particle" exist?
b - Why are there so many $%@#$ stink bugs??
c - Sex
3 - Make More Time For Your Hobbies (or Get One!) - Make a list of stuff you like to do (besides rescue!) - Do something from that list every day. It'll help your attitude and give you a break from rescue (and other) stress. Here are a few possible hobbies to try...
a - Handcuff collecting
b - Collect typewriters from the 1940's.
c - Suing people
4 - Keep Track Of Rescue Successes - As I mentioned before, there are so many sad endings in rescue that it can feel overwhelming at times. Keeping a list of your successes in rescue will help remind you of the difference that you are making.
5 - Set A Finite Rescue Goal and Then Take A Break - It seems like though we all take vacations from our day jobs, no one takes breaks from rescue work. This is insane as we all need time to charge (recharge?) our batteries, not to mention, to get away from it all. So, set some goal (e.g. find a home for three cats) and then take a week off - No Facebook, no emails, and no blogs (except this one - just kiddin')
6 - Forget All of Your Troubles/Worries - GO TO A COMEDY SHOW!