5 self-care tips that will keep you sane as an Activist
Updated: Jan 12
Before writing this article, I peep inside a dictionary where they defined activist as “the use of direct and noticeable action to achieve a result, usually a political or social one”.
Sometimes, I wonder if a person is solely devoted to a revolution, how much will-power and strength it would’ve required to take such a brave step?
As a person of influence, working day and night often results in burnout, stress and anxiety, which isn’t good for this dynamic and fulfilling vocation.
There’s even a name for it: activists burn-out.
Bottom line — to be able to maintain a positive attitude towards your work despite the great challenges is embracing self-care. It not only impacts you but also the people: whom you are fighting for.
Most importantly “self-care isn’t being selfish” rather it’s taking care of your well-being without hurting anyone. Self-care is “attending to your own needs so you are content, focused, motivated, and on your game," as defined by John Duffy, PhD, a clinical psychologist.
If you're someone whose life is all about the big change and revolution then here are some self-care tips for you to be more impactful.
1. Listen to Your Body
Taking one step at a time and starting from your own body can change the whole game for you. Even superheroes need rest, a balanced diet, nutrition and sleep to gear up for their next big day.
Stressing your mind over “doing it all” or the need of “coping with it ” alone is not healthy. It’s okay to feel tired or zoned out sometimes but what’s more important is paying attention to that alarming voice.
To become a good and healthy activist try to build a routine for your bedtime, turn off all the tech devices for some time. Even stepping back for a little while to indulge in any creative hobby will keep you sane in the long run.
2. Understanding Your Feelings
It’s okay to be vulnerable. Our experiences shape us — family experiences, experiences with the world, even societal experiences. These experiences often create a void within ourselves which needs to be filled with the magic of self-care.
“At least working on our piece of the suffering pie provides some relief. But I think we become more effective agents of change when we are nurturing our happiness and personal growth”- Ravi Chandra M.D., psychiatrist,
Also, developing a deep sense of empathy and trust in yourself can help you heal from within. Keeping a journal or writing how you're feeling right now helps a lot.
You can either choose to face your inner critic or keep ignoring your vulnerabilities —the choice is yours.
3. Reach Out to Your Community
Sometimes reaching out to your tribe, sharing your bad days and challenges can be more easing than anything.
“The beauty of the community we’ve built is that we take turns carrying the load rather than have the burden fall on one person”, Carmen Perez, co-chair of the Women’s March. Sharing how you feel with people who understand you can be comforting because “you are not alone in this”.
Lastly, understanding self-care as a collective goal is more important. So, pick up the phone and talk to your buddy activists, pour your heart out.
4. Developing Your Inner Caregiver
If your idea of a good activist is "The one who gives up his own well- being for others” then, it’s high time to shift this mindset.
And how can you start?
Set an example for others in your community by positioning yourself as a healthy and inspiring activist. Organize events, meetings and talk about Mental health while sharing your own stories.
“ It’s key to do the inner work when building resilience, to know that you are fundamentally okay and therefore not measuring your self-worth through the successes and failures of your social change work”, Holly Hammond, Founder, Plan to Win.
Indeed, creating a culture of self-care can shift the activist mindset to a healthy activist's mindset, which is necessary for any revolution.
5. Practise Mindfulness
Here’s the harsh truth, even if you are an activist, still you can't control every single outcome or each and every result for your campaigns.
In this scenario, meditation and yoga helps you to pause, think and then hit the restart button. Remember, a healthy body, healthy mind!
Human rights advocate, Gemma Houdey, speaks about mindfulness, “My mindfulness practice has helped me see the human in who I’m dealing with. I feel my vulnerabilities, and from there, I see that ‘the other’ has those vulnerabilities too. Taking this approach helps me to interact with them from a different place that is healthier for me and, I believe, more effective for meaningful dialogue.”
Especially, understanding different people's perspectives and realizing that neither you nor they are perfect in every sense is the key to being mindful and staying grounded for your purpose.
As human beings, we all are fighting for one thing or another — it can be in our minds, or in the rallies.
And if a life of resistance and everyday activism is your new normal, remember to take care of yourself because the best of you is needed.