Many people in my life are activists. For some of us, our jobs involve fighting for change. For others, activism is something that is done in the evenings and on weekends. Still others seem to live their lives in constant action to promote social justice, environmental causes, and equality. The level of engagement in these areas that I'm seeing from family and friends is inspiring and encouraging.
Because change on all levels tends to be slow, fighting the good fight against oppression can be as exhausting as it is important. In order to continue to feel energized enough to persist, we need to care for our activist selves and encourage friends to do the same. Here are some specific ideas to tailor your self care practice to meet your needs so you can keep moving and fighting.
1. UNFOLLOW, UNFRIEND, AND BLOCK
It can feel draining and disheartening to see hateful messages being posted by acquaintances on social media. It can feel even worse to see these posts coming from friends and family. It's important to be aware of destructive viewpoints, but if you're already spending lots of time and energy fighting against these stances, you're obviously aware. You don't need the constant reminder every time you open Facebook or Instagram. Consider disengaging in whatever way you feel comfortable, so that you have time to recoup and re-energize before the next march, meeting, or political event.
2. LET YOURSELF GRIEVE, AND LET YOURSELF CELEBRATE
When something shitty happens, allow yourself to cry about how shitty it is. When your candidate loses, oppressive legislation passes, or you hear about yet another heartbreaking instance of racist police violence, allow yourself to grieve. Seek out your support system and share in mourning. Additionally, when some progress is made, allow yourself to celebrate. You don't have to hold off on partying until things are perfect. It's important to acknowledge and rejoice in progress, even when the steps forward seem small. The joy you feel will serve as positive reinforcement, helping remind you why you do what you do. It will keep you going, ensuring that progress continues to move forward.
3. DON'T TRY TO DO IT ALL
Remember that being an activist doesn't mean you need to show up to EVERY SINGLE event in support of EVERY SINGLE issue that is important to you. Of course it is wonderful to feel passion for a wide variety of issues, but sometimes this means that the number of protests, rallies, meetings, and campaign events you're invited to can feel overwhelming. Remember that you can say "no" to many of these. Sometimes it helps to check in with yourself and identify 2 or 3 issues that you feel particularly motivated or energized about, and prioritize these.
It's also valid to take time off from activism entirely. If spending your weekend watching 20 hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix and eating Flaming Hot Cheetos and other crappy processed foods means that you can start the next week ready to jump back into your social justice work, do this.
Take care of yourself, because the world needs you at your best.