Take A Deep Breath. Then Fight On.
We've all seen the photos and articles of the never-ending decimation of wildlife. We all ache with grief, burn with rage and want so badly to help. But what do you do when it all gets to be too much? I asked some of the activists on the frontlines, "What do you do to de-stress/unwind when it all gets to be too much?"
via: Reddit Allison Thomson, Outraged South African Citizens Against Rhino Poaching (OSCAP)
"When it really gets to be too much I just go and do some housework, gardening, etc., any hard work to take my mind off other things."
Damien Mander, International Anti-poaching Foundation (IAPF)
"The major stress in my life is the slaughter of animals across the world. Working hard is my way to tackle that stress."
"Rhino" Ramorulane, Ranger at a rhino sanctuary
"I just drink lots of water, and just try to be around people or read books and avoid being alone."
Peter Stewart Rogers, DVM at Provet Wildlife Services in SA
"It is very difficult but I get motivated by the few positive things that happen like a poaching syndicate being busted; orphaned rhino calf being rescued; nursing injured/shot rhino back to health; and taking heart from seeing how much public support there is for this anti poaching war!"
via: Caters Ofir Drori, Founder of LAGA, Wildlife Law Enforcement
"I get my energy from the fight itself. The more I do and the more diverse it is there is always something achieved in the sea of shit for me to get a good nights sleep. Because there are so many diversified fights at least one thing succeeds per day so it feels like swimming in shit, but succeeding in it. Besides that I have my guitar which is a good therapy for all the violence in my soul."
Margrit Harris, Executive Director at Nikela, Helping People Saving Wildlife
"For me I need to get involved with some positive stories. I need to read and watch things that restore my faith in humanity and make me believe again. As for unwinding... I personally take long walks, I sit and watch the birds." Her advice: When your mind is spinning imagine a huge stop sign appearing right in front of you. Then sing an uplifting tune or transport yourself mentally to a happy place. The mind cannot entertain two things at the same time."
via: Tisha Wardlow Robert Obrein, Asst Director of Tsavo East and West, Kenya Wildlife Service
"I call my rangers together (those whose area had been infiltrated) and we console each other and talk of what might have happened and our way forward. I always lay blame on me and not the rangers and this has always worked well in cooling their nerves, and God save the next poacher who comes along. I have been in security since 1992 and I have learned to control blood sugars and many more."
Matt Bracken, ranger at Protrack APU
"I always find inspiration again when I speak with someone new, and they learn and become involved and actually appreciate spreading the message and slowly but surely turning the tides natures way."
Paula Kahumbu, Founder of "Hands off our elephants campaign," Kenya Wildlife Service
"I always keep elephants at the top of my mind – whatever I do should add up to saving them, and if I get distracted by feelings, emotions, anger etc, I ground myself again and apologize if I've gone wrong, forgive myself for wasting time and energy, then start again."
Drew Abrahamson, Production assistant for Dereck and Beverly Joubert, lion activist
"I tend to listen to a lot of music and also have the pleasure of going to be in the bush fairly regularly...I think that helps too. When things are tough. I kinda keep fighting, and that's when I fight the hardest."
A very good piece of advice she was given and passes on:
"When you lose an animal, a fight, remember 'losses and not defeats."
For me, my "happy place" is taking a walk outside, somewhere quiet and secluded, where I can be reminded of nature and animals in their own world, without worries of what surrounds them. It touches my soul and strengthens me by reminding me what we're fighting for.
We're human. We can't afford to look away or quit, but sometimes fighting the fight, we need to recharge. So if you need to take a breather-turn off the computer and walk away for a few hours. Find yourself. Remember why you started this in the first place. Take a deep breathe and jump back in.