The Idealist’s Survival Kit
75 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout
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The Idealist’s Survival Kit is a series of 75 short reflections on mindfulness in action designed to support humanitarian professionals and volunteers in addressing the specific themes and issues that they are likely to encounter in their work. The Idealist’s Survival Kit is built on the premises that changing the world starts from within and that personal development and global development are interlinked.
Informed by academic research on humanitarian studies and aid workers’ lifestyle, as well as organizational psychology and studies on burnout, Alessandra Pigni offers concrete help to aid workers. She shares their personal stories of working on the frontlines, gathered over years of interaction with humanitarian professionals and backed up by cutting–edge research, to offer antidotes to burnout, loss of motivation or purpose/meaning, and other challenges that aid workers often face. Getting to know ourselves, setting appropriate boundaries, extending respect to oneself and colleagues—these are the conditions that allow all of us to engage with any situation with more awareness, openness, and compassion for ourselves and others. The reflections focus on aid workers’ well–being and connect personal and global development.
Alessandra Pigni is a psychologist and organizational consultant who supports individuals working in the humanitarian and development sector. As a psychologist with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) she has worked extensively in the Middle East and in China. She’s been based in Jerusalem providing mindfulness–based staff care and organizational development interventions, and worked with activists and women human rights’ defenders promoting self–care as a basis for action. Pigni started a project called Mindfulness for NGOs to bring mindfulness–based interventions for stress reduction and burnout prevention to aid workers. She taught mindfulness to aid workers and activists in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. She has published articles in academic and non–academic publications, and spoken at conferences about aid workers’ wellbeing. Her work has appeared on BBC Radio Oxford, Channel 4 for Thought TV, Transformation/Open Democracy, and in sector publications such as People in Aid, Devex, Aidpreneur, WhyDev and the humanitarian news agency Irin News. Alessandra Pigni is currently a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford, continuing to research aid workers’ wellbeing. She has a wide following among aid workers and her work is well regarded by both humanitarian practitioners and academics.