Taking care of oneself's well-being and mental health is probably one of the most forgotten challenges of being an activist. Everybody can perfectly imagine the hard work and the struggle that activists encounter when fighting for a cause. However, people tend to forget how hard it is to deal with the feeling of frustration that arises when things do not go as well as expected.
Self-Care: An Essential Exercise for Activists
Any professional in a field where they are helping others, such as psychologists, therapists or social workers, must attend to their own needs if they want to be effective in their role. Why would activism be any different?
Stress, fatigue, burnout, and even secondary or vicarious traumas are some dangers that threaten activists health. Therefore, self-care should be seen as a collective goal within your group or organization. Do not underestimate it!
Five Self-Care Ideas
Climate change, human rights work, as well as any form of activism, are fulfilling but challenging vocations. As activists, we are often exposed to distressing situations. So how can we prevent these challenges from affecting our lives?
1. Seek support in your community
There is healing power in communities, especially when we feel safe enough to share our vulnerabilities and fears with each other. Also, the members of your team can probably understand you better and relate to the way you feel. Share your concerns with more experienced activists and let them provide guidance.
Join a watch party with an organization—or group of friends—so you can have support when finding out the outcome of the election. This will give you a space to process what happens and reflect on all the effort it took to get to this moment.
2. Keep a journal
Writing about your emotions and thoughts serves to reduce tensions and settle your nerves. Besides, it will give you a sense of control and hence lessen the anxiety. Writing a weekly list of your successes and small accomplishments is a great tool. Do not focus on what failed, but on the steps that are bringing you closer to your objectives!
3. Switch off
No matter how involved and passionate you are for the cause, you can't control the uncontrollable. There will be moments when the wisest decision would be to stop or take a break. Activism can be time consuming and very emotional. Remember that you still need to save that energy to change the world!
4. Think long term
You may have lost the battle but not the war! Sometimes failing just gives you the power you need to continue. It also helps you to see your plan of action from a different perspective so you can implement changes. Nobody said it was easy but it is neither impossible.
5. Take care of your body
We rarely slow down enough to decompress somatically. Take a break from fighting injustices to go for a run, meditate, do breathing exercises or simply put on your favorite song and dance! Make yourself a nourishing meal and treat your body well. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will give you the energy you need to cope with your struggles.
Self-care as form of resistance
Activists need to be strong, balanced, and healthy in order to make change. Keeping a positive attitude towards a goal despite the difficulties is not easy but it is the solution to not give up on our dreams as activists.
Therefore, self-care is indeed a selfless and necessary action if you really care about a cause and about what you believe in. The collaborative chat app WeAct gives you the tools you need to be in touch with your community, share your worries and ideas, and keep persevering.
Any tips about for taking care of ourselves and fellow activists? Share it in the comments below!