Self-Care Resources for Animal Activists

Sustainable Activism home

Self-Care Resources for Animal Activists

We all know that we can't help others if we're not helping ourselves first. Healing comes from within but often, as animal activists, we find ourselves overwhelmed by the stories, pictures, and events surrounding abuse and neglect of animals. We want to save the next animal, attend the next tabling event, get as many signatures as we can on petitions, follow more stories on social media. But what happens to us when we do? We may have digestive or sleep problems, find ourselves grouchy, or we isolate because people just don't understand us. We may even burn out if our symptoms become too severe. Then we help no one.

This section on self-care resources gives you an opportunity to break the cycle before it breaks you. There are thousands of resources available in print and online to give you support and encouragement, to help you heal the pain inside you. Here are just a few. Please send us any resources you have found helpful. We will not be able to post all of them, but we would like to know where you turn for help when your work as an animal activist becomes overwhelming. Reach out to us here

Some of the simplest ways we can care for ourselves cost us nothing but time and attention: a walk in nature, a hot bath, a visit with a friend, meditation, listening to music, etc. We each need to find what works best for us and then make the commitment to care for ourselves. Start by reading our Top 7 Activist Self-Care Tips!

Please note: In Defense of Animals is not responsible for content on any other websites linked to from this site—the inclusion of any such links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them. We have no control over the nature, content, and availability of those sites and you view them strictly at your own risk. Additionally, these resources do not take the place of a visit to your doctor if you are experiencing changes in your health.

Online Resources

"Acupuncture is a component of the health care system of China that can be traced back at least 2,500 years. The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Acupuncture may, it has been theorized, correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin."

"Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual's innate healing process."

Curable Health
"Curable is an app for chronic pain relief. It uses a combination of pain science education and evidence-based techniques to address pain from every angle. The program helps you connect the dots between what's happening in your brain, in your body, and in your life, to get a full picture of what's causing your symptoms and how to relieve them." 

"Research has now emerged showing that being grounded benefits the body in many ways….Earthing is nothing really new. It's purely a revival of a timeless practice and a forgotten law of Nature: that we belong to Nature, and part of the very connection with Nature is our connection with Mother Earth. Earthing is among the most natural and safest things you can do."

Emotional Freedom Techniques
"The Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT, is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem—whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc.—and voice positive affirmations."

Gratefulness Organization
"Experience, deepen, and share the power of living gratefully. Open to the great-fullness and opportunity of this moment. Bring gratitude to life."

Healing Touch Program
"Healing Touch is an energy therapy in which practitioners consciously use their hands in a heart-centered and intentional way." This website is geared for professionals in the field but does give a list of practitioners to contact.

Howard Schubiner, MD
"[Dr. Schubiner] started the Mind Body Medicine program at Providence Hospital, in Southfield, Michigan. This program was based on the pioneering work of Dr. John Sarno in New York City. He noticed that the results of X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans were often unrelated to the amount of pain experienced by the patient. When he began to treat people (who did not need surgery) from a psychological point of view, most people improved, even when they may have had pain for many years."

Jon Kabat Zinn 
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., has authored books and guided meditation programs that "describe meditation practice in such commonsensical, relevant, and compelling terms that mindfulness meditation practice has become a way of life for thousands of people. His work has contributed to a growing movement of mindfulness into mainstream institutions in our society such as medicine, health care and hospitals, schools, higher education, corporations, prisons, the legal profession, and professional sports."

"Qigong ('chee-gong') is an over five-thousand year-old Chinese health method that combines slow graceful movements with mental concentration and breathing to increase and balance a person's vital energy. It has been popularly referred to as Chinese yoga. Qigong is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, along with acupuncture, acupressure, and herbal medicine. Literally millions of people practice…each day to successfully treat diseases ranging from osteoarthritis to cancer, to improve their overall health."

Quantum Touch
"Quantum-Touch is a method of natural healing that works with the Life Force Energy of the body to promote optimal wellness. Life Force Energy, also known as ‘chi' in Chinese and ‘prana' in Sanskrit, is the flow of energy that sustains all living beings….Quantum-Touch teaches us how to focus, amplify, and direct this energy, for a wide range of benefits with surprising and often extraordinary results."

"Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by ‘laying on hands' and is based on the idea that an unseen ‘life force energy' flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's ‘life force energy' is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy."

"The TAT® process enables your entire system—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual—to be present in the current moment and more able to receive the love, healing, peace, and energy available now. TAT® has been used successfully to end fears and phobias, lessen every kind of stress—both past and current—and heal the emotional origins of physical disease."

The Chopra Center
"From life-changing live events and online courses, to eye-opening teacher trainings and unique products, The Chopra Center brings the timeless wisdom of meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda into the modern world. Discover self-awareness and why it is the key to closing the gap between who you are and who you want to be."

Thymus Thump
"Thumping your thymus, in the center of your chest, can help bring up your life energy….It's a simple but very effective energy technique that involves tapping, thumping or scratching on the thymus point."

"Yoga literally means "union". This union can be understood on different levels: philosophically, as that of the relative, limited self with the absolute Self; religiously, as that of the individual soul with the Infinite Spirit; psychologically, as the integration of the personality—a state wherein a person no longer lives at cross-purposes with himself; emotionally, as the stilling of the waves of likes and dislikes, permitting one to remain in all circumstances complete in himself."

Print Resources

A Beautiful Medicine: A Radical Look at the Essence of Health and Healing by David Mercier, Still Pond Press, 2012
"Drawing upon the teachings of mystics, philosophers, and poets, [Mercier] deepens and expands the very definition of health itself. His message includes the idea that the spiritual and psychological elements of our lives must be included if we are to better understand the meaning of our symptoms. If we reveal the human narrative underlying our malaise and our illnesses, we often find the true diagnosis lying in unfinished emotional business or in the values, priorities, and choices that shape dysfunctional lifestyles."

A Heart as Wide as the World: Living with Mindfulness, Wisdom, and Compassion by Sharon Salzberg, Shambhala 1997
"Through meditation and the practice of lovingkindness, we can discover our intimate connection to those around us and to the world as a whole. This realization acts like a hidden storehouse of strength, allowing us to face whatever the world offers us with wisdom and compassion. In these pages, Sharon Salzberg shows us that our heart can be truly as wide as the world."

Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman, Sounds True, Boulder, CO, 2010
"[The authors]bring together a circle of renowned Western shamanic elders to present a comprehensive manual for making these practices accessible and available in our daily lives, including: How the original practice of shamanism shaped the world's spiritual traditions and why it is still relevant today. The art of the shamanic journey--a time-tested meditative method for experiencing important piritual lessons and truths. Guidance for avoiding common pitfalls of shamanic practice. Instruction for working with your dreams, connecting to your spirit guides, healing yourself and your environment."

Change the Story of Your Health: Using Shamanic and Jungian Techniques for Healing by Carl Greer, Findhorn Press, 2017
"Through journaling exercises and expanded-awareness practices, many of which involve working with and in nature, and which are influenced by Jungian and shamanic traditions, anyone can tap into hidden resources for healing and work with them effectively. Whether gaining insights and balancing energies outdoors, dialoguing and interacting with the earth or a river or lake, or working with dreams, an inner healer, or a symbol encountered on a shamanic journey, readers will find they are able to learn why they have struggled to change their habits and will be empowered to experience greater wellness within a satisfying health story."

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne Dyer, Hay House, Inc., 2007
"Five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, a God-realized being named Lao-tzu in ancient China dictated 81 verses, which are regarded by many as the ultimate commentary on the nature of our existence. The classic text of these 81 verses, called the Tao Te Ching or the Great Way, offers advice and guidance that is balanced, moral, spiritual, and always concerned with working for the good."

Explain Pain by Dr. David S. Butler and Prof G. Lorimer Moseley, Noigroup Publications, 2013
"Explain Pain gives new and immediate hope to pain sufferers and their family and friends. It describes the complexities of the central nervous system for chronic pain patients in everyday language. Studies now show that understanding more about why things hurt can help patients go about their daily lives. This book aims to empower clinicians and pain sufferers to challenge pain, revise their view of pain and follow a scientific road to recovery.",

Foods That Fight Pain: Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief by Neal Barnard, Three Rivers Press, 1998
"Drawing on new and little-known research from prestigious medical centers around the world, Neal Barnard, M.D., author of Eat Right, Live Longer and Food for Life, shows readers how they can soothe everyday ailments and cure chronic pain by using common foods, traditional supplements, and herbs."

Fully Present by Susan L. Smalley and Diana Winston, DaCapo Long Life, 2010
"Mindfulness—the art of paying attention with an open and curious mind to present-moment experiences—has attracted ever-growing interest and tens of thousands of practitioners, who have come to the discipline from both within and outside the Buddhist tradition….[The authors] provide an all-in-one guide for anyone interested in bringing mindfulness to daily life as a means of enhancing well-being. [The book] provides both a scientific explanation for how mindfulness positively and powerfully affects the brain and the body as well as practical guidance to develop both a practice and mindfulness in daily living, not only through meditation but also during daily experiences, such as waiting in line at the supermarket, exercising, or facing difficult news."

Living Life in Full Bloom: 120 Daily Practices to Deepen Your Passion, Creativity & Relationships by Elizabeth Murray, Rodale Books, 2014
"Living life in full bloom means living with hope and purpose, with imagination and vision―in a way that honors the Earth, the spirit, and one another. Elizabeth Murray encourages and nurtures each person to explore four personality attributes (Gardener, Artist, Lover, and Spirit Weaver), or pathways, that create a framework for practicing mindfulness, unleashing potential, and reviving communities."

Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg, Shambhala 2002
"In this inspiring book, Sharon Salzberg, one of America's leading spiritual teachers, shows us how the Buddhist path of lovingkindness can help us discover the radiant, joyful heart within each of us. This practice of lovingkindness is revolutionary because it has the power to radically change our lives, helping us cultivate true happiness in ourselves and genuine compassion for others."

Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg, Workman Publishing, 2011
"Thousands of years prove it, and Western science backs it: Meditation sharpens focus. Meditation lowers blood pressure, relieves chronic pain, reduces stress. Meditation helps us experience greater calm. Meditation connects us to our inner-most feelings and challenges our habits of self-judgment. Meditation helps protect the brain against aging and improves our capacity for learning new things. Meditation opens the door to real and accessible happiness."

Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You by Deepak Chopra, Harmony Books, 2009
"Deepak Chopra presents ten lessons to help build awareness and change the distorted energy patterns that are the root cause of aging, infirmity, and disease.
"Transformation can't stop with the body, however; it must involve the soul. The soul–seemingly invisible, aloof, and apart from the material world–actually creates the body. Only by going to the level of the soul will you access your full potential, bringing more intelligence, creativity, and awareness into every aspect of your life."

10% Happier: How I tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-help that Actually works - a True Story by Dan Harris, Dey Street Books, 2014
"Nightline anchor Dan Harris embarks on an unexpected, hilarious, and deeply skeptical odyssey through the strange worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovers a way to get happier that is truly achievable."

The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, Amber-Allen Publishing, 1997
"[The] reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love."

The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing by Kenneth S. Cohen, Ballantine Books, 1997
"Qigong is an integrated mind-body healing method that has been practiced with remarkable results in China for thousands of years. The Chinese have long treasured qigong for its effectiveness both in healing and in preventing disease, and more recently they have used it in conjunction with modern medicine to cure cancer, immune system disorders, and other life-threatening conditions. Now in this fascinating, comprehensive volume, renowned qigong master and China scholar Kenneth S. Cohen explains how you too can integrate qigong into your life--and harness the healing power that will help your mind and body achieve the harmony of true health."

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay, Hay House, 1984
"What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us. I believe that everyone, myself included, is responsible for everything in our lives, the best and the worst. Every thought we think is creating our future. Each one of us creates our experiences by our thoughts and our feelings. The thoughts we think and the words we speak create our experiences."


You can support our work by donating