The word activist can be pretty loaded and some of us don’t feel entirely comfortable with it. Even if the word activist doesn’t ring true for you, if you consider yourself an advocate or you discuss highly charged topics like social justice or mental health regularly, then this post is for you.
While I don’t think of myself as an activist, I do feel like an advocate and try to voice my opinions on subjects like mental health, including talking about my own experiences. While I’ve found being open about all of this to be a passion and something I love, it doesn’t come without its challenges.
Work of this kind opens you up to a lot. You may get messages from others sharing their experiences with the topic you’re discussing. You may get criticism. You may find yourself more aware of injustices happening and find it overwhelming.
All of this can take its toll emotionally, making it imperative that you look after yourself. Ironically, many activists and advocates find it difficult to take time for themselves, feeling the need to ‘do the work’ or support others more.
If you’re in this position, I’ve put together a few self-care tips to help you do the work and do it from a place of energy and love, not exhaustion.
Make this your self-care motivator: “I look after myself so I can look out for others”
Really pinning down your self-care motivator is essential and in your case, it really is about not being able to pour from an empty cup. In order to have the energy and the capacity to do what you do, you need to look after yourself – honestly it is that simple.
So next time you find yourself arguing in your head about whether or not to take a day away from social media or to turn down an invitation, remind yourself that you need this time to recharge so you can be 100% present in the future.
Protect your energy
Try to get aware of what you find draining and create some boundaries around that. For example, if people tend to message you about their mental health and you know you aren’t qualified to give advice but don’t want to ignore them, create a message you can re-use that links to support numbers (this page from Happiful is great).
If being on social media and seeing too much upsetting/frustrating content drains you, remind yourself it’s OK to take breaks. Read a book that’s totally unrelated to the topic you advocate for, watch a film, meet with friends. If going to protests is draining for you, support causes online.
Remember – your social justice work is a part of you, not all of you. It’s OK to celebrate the other parts now and then.
Lean on your own support system
You may be more used to being a support for others, but it’s important that you have support yourself. Chat to fellow activists about how they wind-down, talk to your community about how you’re feeling. Spend time with people who ‘get it’ and let them hold you for a while.
If you’re find yourself caring for others regularly in your work, you may find this piece I wrote about self-care for carers helpful. Or, if you consider yourself to be particularly empathetic, this piece on protecting your energy as an empath may be worth reading.
I hope these tips were helpful, I’d love to hear from you if you have any other tips for taking care of yourself as an activist – let me know in the comments or come and chat on Instagram.
Next week my monthly musings newsletter is going out and I’ll be talking about the fine line between pushing through fear and burning yourself out. So if you want to receive that, make sure you subscribe before Sunday 23rd Feb.
I’ll be back next week with the first episode of Seedling season 2 (!!!) and a special birthday blog, until then – take care.
Save for later: