52 weeks to a sweeter life

cover of 52 WEEKS TO A SWEETER LIFE. Bold font over bright rainbow-like colours

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

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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.

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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. 

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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.”

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Bif Naked

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 

Week 5:

Watch this 2-minute explainer video on neuroplasticity HERE

Week 10

Check out this article by Michelle Konstantinovsky on overfunctioning and underfunctioning as stress responses.

Week 13:

Watch this 4-minute video that describes the stress responses fight, flight, freeze and fawn HERE

Week 14:

Look at this Window of Tolerance infographic from the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioural Medicine (NICABM) HERE

Linda Thai’s programs 

Week 19:

Highly Sensitive Person self-test HERE

Week 21:

Take Gretchen Rubin’s 5-minute Four Tendencies quiz HERE

Week 29:

Take the 3-minute attachment styles quiz HERE

Read an article by psychologist Dianne Poole Heller that describes the four attachment styles, and common ways they are expressed in adult relationships HERE

Week 33:

Free Mindfulness Daily course by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield HERE

Watch an 8-minute TEDx talk by neuroscientist Sara Lazar HERE

Week 35:

Practice Couch Potato Yoga, a fully seated and beginner friendly yoga class by Jessamyn Stanley HERE

Week 37:

Watch a 5-minute conversation between Dr. Richard Schwartz and Dr. Esther Perel. They discuss the inner critic and healing HERE.

7-minute guided inner child meditation by Ekta Hattangady HERE

Week 41:

Study about water and mood HERE

Week 42:

Six-minute guided “Wee Hours Rescue” Meditation by Mary Maddux HERE

Week 43:

Watch a 10-minute video conversation between James Nestor and Dr. Rangan Chatterjee about nose breathing and mouth taping at night HERE 

Watch a 6-minute video lecture on cadence breathing by Fariya Doctor HERE

Week 45:

Take the “Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone quiz” by Dr. Sharon Horwood at Deakin University in Melbourne Australia HERE

 

Week 47:

Watch the 3-minute Baroness Von Sketch episode about LinkedIn notifications HERE

 

Week 49:

Follow an 8-minute guided meditation by Sarah Blondin on learning to surrender HERE

 

Week 50:

Sleep talk down self-hypnosis by Linda Hall HERE

Learn to Stop Teeth Grinding Hypnosis by Iris Higgins HERE

Listen to FREE hypnosis recordings by Luke Chao (on a number of topics including sleep, emotions, self-love and more) HERE

PEACE BREATHING:

A meditative practice of quiet contemplation that lets you experience wholeness as you connect with your deeper self.

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