Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare. - Audre Lorde
Activism of any kind is hard work! These action tasks might stir up intense emotions. Other commenters might post opinions that are uninformed and less than compassionate. Hopefully, the following will help keep you in good health and good spirits while on the Action Team!
Keep your comments calm. Anger can be generative - it can validate our experience and give us energy, insight, and the initiative to connect with others. However, posting angry comments will likely only provoke unkind and ignorant responses, which can be discouraging and upsetting to you and other survivors. Don't get drawn into debates in the comments section - you don't need to prove your point to anyone or take on the responsibility of combatting another's ignorance.
Practice self-care. Most of us cannot afford tropical vacations or luxurious spa treatments, but we can incorporate activities that re-energize, calm, and comfort us into our daily routine.
- Debrief with someone you trust. Talk with a friend, family member, or therapist.
- Exercise. This can be as simple as a walk around the block to clear your head.
- Get enough sleep.
- Notice your breathing and body. When we're anxious our breathing tends to be shallow and irregular, and our muscles tense. Take a moment to breathe deeply from your belly and relax your muscles.
- Do something expressive or artistic - write, draw, go dancing, or sing.
- Do something purely enjoyable. Have some chocolate, draw a bath, or catch up on that TV series.
Watch for signs of burnout. No activist - no matter how driven, knowledgable, or successful - is inexhaustible or invulnerable. We are all susceptible to burnout, and our bodies and minds have many ways of telling us to slow down and look after ourselves:
- Difficulty concentrating, focusing, or making decisions
- Insomnia or disturbed sleep
- Feeling exhausted after a good night's sleep
- Feeling persistently helpless, hopeless, or pessimistic
- Muscle tension, headache, backache, nausea
- Feeling uncharacteristically irritable
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable and invigorating
- Feeling overwhelmed, triggered, or upset when thinking about or participating in activist efforts
Remind yourself that activism is a way to heal. Activism is hard work, but we do it because it helps us heal. It validates our experiences and connects us with others. It empowers us to speak up so that we can prevent abuse and protect children. Acknowledge your strength and bravery!