Activism is hard work. Arguing with trolls on Twitter, attending rallies, organising petitions, writing important think-pieces, contacting your MP or representative weekly–it’s all exhausting.
It’s even more exhausting when your efforts feel futile. When you email your MP umpteen times to vote against Brexit, and they ignore you. When your Twitter timeline if filled with story after story about how Trump is a dictator and Tim Farron is a homophobe and Theresa May would rather bring back fox hunting than help disabled people.
Yes, fighting the good fight can leave you burned out and exhausted. Confronting racists every day can take a toll on your mental health.
That’s why self-care is so important. Not just because looking after yourself is important, but because you can’t keep changing the world if you’re lying in a broken heap on the floor.
Self-care has gotten a lot of coverage lately, as more and more people start to realise that working yourself to the bone isn’t necessarily the best way to function. Unfortunately, self-care has become somewhat commercialised–with Lush bath bombs and Jo Malone candles topping most lists of self-care ideas.
But self-care doesn’t have to be about products and pampering (although if a bubble bath really soothes your soul, then go for it!). Here are some slightly less commercialised self-care ideas, specifically for activists.
It’s so easy to get drained as an activist when you’re stuck in a 24/7 news cycle. Every time you open Twitter, you immediately see every terrible that’s happened in the last 24 hours. Whilst staying informed is important, constantly being bombarded by terrible world events with no respite can be draining.
So consider taking a ‘digital detox’–or at least delete Twitter from your phone so you can’t spend every waking minute checking the news. If you don’t want to be completely out of the loop, consider watching the 6 o’clock news instead, or reading BBC news in your lunchbreak. That way you can control how much information you’re bombarded with.
Sometimes, it gets to 3pm and you realise that you’ve spent all day screaming about Trump and all you’ve eaten is a packet of biscuits.
Whilst I’m all for comfort-eating delicious junk food, taking the time to cook a meal from scratch–no matter how simple – is incredibly nourishing for your mind and soul. Plus, it’ll distract you from Twitter and all the terrible news that’s flooding your timeline.
Get a hobby that’s not related to activism
Many people dedicate every waking moment to activism, and whilst that’s important and we need people like that, it can also be healthy to do something fun that isn’t related to changing the world.
Learn to knit. Play the piano. Join a yoga class. Start a book club (that reads exclusively trashy chick lit). Have something in your life that isn’t centred around petitions and politics. Trust me, your brain will thank you.
Binge watch some terrible reality TV
As a socially-aware person, consuming media can be hard. Your brain automatically starts noticing the lack of diversity that permeates all our media.
But sometimes you just need to switch your brain off. You need to binge watch a trashy TV show without thinking critically about it. I personally recommend Project Runway or Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
What are some ways that you like to unwind from activism? Tweet as at @The_Nopebook and let us know! Keep fighting–and keep taking care of yourself!