Those of us called to “be the change we want to see in the world” must also take care of ourselves so we can be resilient as we work for the changes we are called to support. Our be-ing must balance with our do-ing, or we’ll become overwhelmed. Here are some resources to support healthy activism in a world that asks so much of each of us.
- Lead as healthy a lifestyle as you can. (I know, everyone says this; that’s because it’s true. Sleep, good food, and exercise will make the difference between managing stress and giving in to it.) According to New Tactics in Human Rights, that means, individually, you need to:
- Activist culture is often a burnout culture, because innovators and world changers set high expectations, often unreasonably. Learn more about how to avoid burnout from this great pdf from activist-trauma-net. One great tip: Ask yourself “What are the situations that grind you down the most? Can you create ways of dealing with them? Don’t feel you have to go to every action — if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.” Dealing with your emotions, letting go of the pain and stress with compassion, is key to sustaining long-term forward motion without burning out.
- Remember, activism is a call to service, not a call to self-sacrifice — and it’s a healthy human response to connect in community. Therefore, service can actually make you healthier! According to the Greater Good, “People who give to others give healthier, happier lives to themselves…. When we give back, it shifts the focus outside ourselves. It creates a sense of satisfaction that increases endorphins and therefore, a sense of well-being. When we’re feeling down, the instinct is often to vent to friends. It’s good to have a support system, but if that’s all there is, it’s hard to get distance from what’s bothering you. Doing things for other people, thinking about other people, is like giving your brain a break from despair.”
At a time we’re drawn to step up, for the rights and health of ourselves and others, it’s important to remember that activism is often a longterm project. So prepare yourself, honor yourself, and stay strong!