52 weeks to a sweeter life
A practical guide to self- and community care, written for helpers—the caregivers, activists, community leaders, mental health and medical professionals who are the first to help others, but the last to seek help themselves.
As an activist, community organizer and social worker, Farzana Doctor has preached self-care to hundreds of people struggling with burnout and exhaustion. But for years she couldn’t manage to take her own advice.
Many other helpers and activists she knew were the same: they knew the signs of burnout, or understood the science of self-care. Maybe they’d taken workshops on vicarious trauma; maybe they’d even taught them. But still they struggled to escape the cycle of overwork, overwhelm and recovery. 52 Weeks to a Sweeter Life is a workbook that speaks directly to these people—and anyone who struggles to pause, set boundaries and centre their own needs.
~Published by Douglas & McIntyre
The workbook contains fifty-two lessons, one for each week of the year. Each week, readers will find a simple new idea and an experiment for trying it out, with deeper dives into the material provided, but every level of participation celebrated.
Throughout, Doctor embraces both community care and self-care, showing readers the overlaps between the two.
Beautifully written, direct and insightful, this workbook is a gentle and practical guide to a more balanced life, written for those who need it most.
Kai Cheng Thom, MSW, MSc, Certified Professional Life Coach and author of Falling Back In Love With Being Human
52 Weeks to a Sweeter Life for Caregivers, Activists and Helping Professionals should be required reading for anyone who wants to change the world – because as the author reminds us, changing the world requires practicing care for ourselves.
Cathy Crowe, Long-time street nurse and social justice/housing advocate
“In a world that often disempowers us, 52 Weeks offers a spirited and seamless approach to both self-care and community care which is both refreshing and radical. Step by step Farzana shows us how to reclaim care and our power.”
52 Weeks is possibly the most important book I’ve ever read! It is a wakeup call, and I feel completely awakened
“Farzana Doctor has given us permission to care for ourselves. 52 Weeks to a Sweeter Life asks us as service providers to take a leap of faith, invest in our well-being without guilt, and commit to self-care. This is the best resource for service providers that I have seen in a long time. Thank you, Farzana. Your generous gift is greatly appreciated and has come at just the right time. “
~Notisha Massaquoi, University of Toronto
“I wish this guide had been part of my psychotherapy training’s curriculum. 52 Weeks to a Sweeter Life is an invaluable resource for learning how to take care of yourself while also taking care of others.”
~Sil Hernando, registered psychotherapist, clinical educator and senior program manager
“Self-care can feel like a monolith, but in 52 Weeks to a Sweeter Life, Farzana makes it manageable with brief activities that create tangible change in the short-term and leave you reflecting on what’s possible for yourself over the longer-term.”
–Jen Vasic, registered social worker, PhD candidate, city councillor
“This book has been a lifeline during a period when I felt like I was drowning. It’s comprehensive, and the little chunks and offers for deeper dives are really wonderful.”
–Natasha Steer, racialized intersectional feminist, writer, and social justice educator.
“I’ve read a number of self-help books and this is the most useful. If I contrast 52 Weeks to Atomic Habits, for example, 52 Weeks has been much more effective at helping me work through my own personal blocks to self-care.”
–Zak Greant, multi-disciplinary executive with 25+ years of start-up and open source experience.
The antidote to activist burnout: this book.
-Ann Douglas, Author of Navigating the Messy Middle: A Fiercely Honest and Wildly Encouraging Guide for Midlife Women
52 Weeks to a Sweeter Life Deeper Dive Links:
Here are the links mentioned in 52 Weeks to a Sweeter Life for Caregivers, Activists and Helping Professionals, A Workbook of Emotional Hacks, Self-Care Experiments and Other Good Ideas by Farzana Doctor (Douglas & McIntyre, 2024). They are listed by the week they are mentioned. We are trying to keep them current, but if you notice an error before we do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Please feel free to share the book and these resources with others. Farzana is available for speaking engagements, webinars and book club talks. Get in touch with her HERE Farzana Doctor, 2024
Watch this 2-minute explainer video on neuroplasticity HERE
Check out this article by Michelle Konstantinovsky on overfunctioning and underfunctioning as stress responses.
Watch this 4-minute video that describes the stress responses fight, flight, freeze and fawn HERE
Highly Sensitive Person self-test HERE
Take Gretchen Rubin’s 5-minute Four Tendencies quiz HERE
Practice Couch Potato Yoga, a fully seated and beginner friendly yoga class by Jessamyn Stanley HERE
Study about water and mood HERE
Six-minute guided “Wee Hours Rescue” Meditation by Mary Maddux HERE
Take the “Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone quiz” by Dr. Sharon Horwood at Deakin University in Melbourne Australia HERE
Watch the 3-minute Baroness Von Sketch episode about LinkedIn notifications HERE
Follow an 8-minute guided meditation by Sarah Blondin on learning to surrender HERE