How to be an activist and practice self-care

Posted February 3, 2017 in self-care, activism, politics, gratitude, meditation, yoga, social media

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How has it only been two weeks since the inauguration? The amount of stress that I've carried has made it feel so much longer!

Just like you, I've been navigating how to keep up with political news while maintaining my own sanity. It's been a challenge and, I admit, the first week wasn't pretty. 

After the Women's March, I was feeling super hopeful and positive, then news came out about a Nebraska fraternity who had yelled absolutely horrific things at women during the march. I read the comments on the news story, and got so fired up by the awful comments. Then for some reason, I watched the documentary "The Hunting Ground," which sent me on a stress spiral. 

This was a major wake up call for me. I knew that I couldn't spend the next four years on this level. I want to be able to be involved and know what's happening in the world, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my own well-being. So I immediately began asking my online community what they had been doing to de-stress and implementing some self-care strategies.

  • Take a break from the news. Every few days, I avoid the news completely. These days have felt incredibly rejuvenating. Yes, I may fall out of touch with what's happening in the world, but just one day away from the news isn't going make me feel like I've been living under a rock. 

  • Create a community around activism. I invited some friends over to write postcards to our senators and representatives. It felt really powerful to be doing something and it helped to have that connection with friends. We also enjoyed beers and snacks, and made it a fun event. We joined the 10 Actions for the first 100 Days, and we'll be getting together to complete our actions. 
  • Let go of guilt. Beating yourself up for not feeling like you're doing enough won't help. It will create more stress. Just do what you can. 

  • Do something. While I do think you should only do what you feel you have the time and energy for, I urge you to do something. Taking action will give you a sense of power during a time when you most likely feel powerless. Sitting around and complaining without taking action won't be empowering. Do something small. It only takes a few minutes to call your senator or write a postcard. 
  • Unfollow people on social media. During the election, I unfollowed every single person that posted negative comments or posted things that I felt were offensive. My social media news feed is filled with positivity and my favorite news channels. It makes it a more positive place to spend time. 
  • Don't read the comments. Remember that story I told you at the beginning of this post? The problem with online comments is that people write whatever they want without thinking about how it will impact others and without taking accountability. Would they say those things to someone in person? Probably not. If you are like me and get stressed by online comments, avoid them. 
  • Delete social media apps on your phone. If you find yourself scrolling your news feeds and reading post after post and article after article that create stress, delete the social media apps on your phone. You can catch up with the news when you get on your computer or when you watch the news on TV. 
  • Do things that allow you to disconnect. The BF and I went to a movie on Monday night (La La Land, which was soooooo amazing!), and it felt great to be immersed in a lovely story for two hours. Go to a movie, take a yoga class, meditate, go to the gym, get a massage, spend time with friends, etc.
  • Be loud. Now is the time to stand up for what you believe in. It feels incredibly empowering to have a voice and share your story. You'll also create connections with people and could even have an impact on someone you never imagined. 

  • Start a gratitude journal. The world may seem chaotic, but you still have so much to be grateful for. Write down three things you are grateful for each day. When you find yourself feeling stressed, sad, frustrated, etc., review your gratitude journal. 
  • Create stillness. When we're stressed about politics, we tend to talk about it with everyone. Then we find ourselves getting more fired up or creating more tension after we've settled down. Meditation is such a great tool to use to find some stillness, get present and reconnect to yourself. If you've never tried meditation, I highly recommend using guided meditations to get started. I like Grace Space, BexLife or apps like 10% Happier, Headspace or Calm. 
  • Do something that brings you complete joy. Whether it's spending time with people you love or animals you love, painting, reading a book or watching your favorite show on Netflix. It's important to still experience joy. This can be challenging when there are so many people suffering and being impacted by executive orders, but I believe that you must care for yourself so that you can be of service to those people through your activism. When you burn yourself out, you won't be able to give yourself fully.

I'm fully aware that I'm a person of privilege, and these tips are most likely for others like me. But as I said, when we care for ourselves we can give to others who don't have the same privileges that we do. 

How are you finding peace and practicing self-care in this stressful political climate?

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