8 Self-Care Tips For Activists

A year has passed since the fateful election that plunged the country into (even more) chaos. And somehow, things seem to be getting worse. As the need for social and political resistance grows more crucial, it becomes even more physically and emotionally exhausting, especially for those, like women of color and trans folks, for whom simply existing in this world is a daily struggle. So what’s an activist to do? With the increasing volatility of the world, self-care is more vital than ever. Read on for a list of self-care tips that will help you stay afloat during the revolution.

1. Honor your feelings

“If you are participating in activism–whether it’s by spreading awareness on social media, joining a social justice club, protesting, or engaging your friends and family in dialogue–your emotions may be mixed, both negative and positive. When you are vocal about an issue, you may be asked (multiple times), “Why do you care so much?” or “Why are you so angry?” You might ask yourself those questions too. Recognize that whether your activism is driven by frustration, sadness, anger, enthusiasm, or optimism, you cannot beat yourself up for how you feel, or for spending “too much time” on an issue that’s been deemed “negative” or “controversial.” Pause to be mindful of your emotions and appreciate how they drive your actions. Those feelings are what will keep you interested and involved in a movement.” —Upasna Barath, Rookie Mag

2. Step back from social media…

“Social Media Is a Special Hell Full of Trolls—And You Are Welcome to Disengage at Any Time. I mean it. Please feel okay with getting the hell off of Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. At any time. It can’t always be your job to go get your brother’s friend’s cousin, Jeff, who said something misogynist on your elementary school best friend Caitlin’s wall. Somewhere between the fifth and tenth comment, you can leave the thread.” —Kim Tran, Everyday Feminism

3…or turn to it to find support

“A lot of my self care comes from writing Facebook posts and putting my thoughts on the computer. That’s the way I navigate when I can’t stand what’s going on around me. There’s a validation you get from other people hurting and the communal sense of solidarity, so I turn to my social channels when that hurts or sometimes I need a cleanse.” —Joon Park, Teen Vogue

4. Focus on self-love

“The first step for me was self-love. I love my body, my mind, and my spirit. I want to preserve it in the finest and most luxurious ways that I can within my means. I take vitamins. I make sure to work hard and play equally as hard. I try my best to keep bad energy and vibes away, ridding myself of toxic relationships. A bath with scented oils and a fresh haircut can also do wonders for your confidence.” —Stasia Mehschel, Elixher

“I love to cook and take walks in the park with my dog, Cashmere, but I also enjoy taking time to touch myself. There is healing in your own touch and I love all up on this body. Taking time to breathe because every breath a Black Trans Woman takes is an Act of Revolution. I practice self-care by becoming submerged in self-love. Allowing others to give love and allowing myself to receive love but also being particular with my love and with the love I allow in my life. For me, practicing self-care is an act of self-love.” —Lourdes Ashley Hunter, Elixher

5. Don’t be afraid of therapy

“I think it’s important for me to have a place that I go once week to talk about things that are important to me. Sometimes we just need to pray. Sometimes we just need our friends. But sometimes we just need a therapist.” —Luvvie Ajayi, Essence

6. Know and honor your limits

“Be honest with yourself about how much you can share: Do not speak up/participate in a heated discussion if you know you will end up hurting yourself by trying to force a fucked up individual to admit their fucked up thinking therefore using up all your energy on someone who is unwilling to listen or acknowledge oppression. Similarly do not stay silent if you know you feel that what you have to say is important and you need to be heard about it.” —Fabian Romero

7. Reach out to your community

“Reach out to friends and family…or anyone on the same level as you. Reaffirm your identity and self-worth with people who can relate. Try to avoid any political discussion whilst you’re in these moments, as it’ll allow your noggins to take a break, but also know that this is a group you can confide in, should you need to. You do not have to remain in contact with those that emotionally or mentally drain you, and you have every right to terminate relationships you don’t think will be beneficial for your growth as a person.” —Zeenat Afzal, Rising.org

by Sabrina Nelson
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Sabrina Nelson is a senior at Reed College, studying for a degree in Sociology. She is interested in the disparity in access to healthcare, food security, and education, and is writing her senior thesis on menstrual inequality and the emerging menstrual movement. When not immersed in those worlds, she spends her time laughing really loudly, writing poetry and reading books about witches. Sabrina loves the ocean, really long walks and baking without a recipe. 

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