As advocates, we often think it’s more important to help others than to take care of ourselves. But even superheroes need a break!
That why we’ve put together this Activist’s Guide to Self-Care. Here are some tips on how to be an advocate for others without burning yourself out:
Step 1: Understand how burnout happens
In order to maintain our mental health as advocates, we need to look first at how we relate to our work. Burnout can happen to anyone! But before it does, we should try to understand how we might get there.
Maybe you’re stuck in the mindset of:
- The Caretaker: “It’s more important to help others, I’ll be ok!”
- The Superhero: “I should be able to cope, I’m strong!”
- The Task-rabbit: “I don’t have time to rest, I’m too busy!”
Step 2: Watch for the warning signs
Have you been experiencing any of these symptoms recently?
- Eye strain
- Jaw clenching
- Abdomen pain
- Low sexual drive
- Easily irritated or annoyed
- Been having a hard time sleeping
- Can’t remember the last time you did nothing
- Constantly feel overwhelmed
If you said yes to any of these, then it’s time for some self-care!
Step 3: Undo the damage
There are many tools we can use for self-care when we feel burnt out
- Take care of your body: Make sure that you eat well, exercise, breathe, dance!
- Take care of your mind: Try to find time in your day to laugh, create, play, meditate!
- Connect with the world around you: call up an old friend, meet some new people, join a local club
- Disconnect from things that distract you: get off social media, or even just turn off your phone for few hours.
Step 3: Build resilience
We know that activism can be hard, challenging and frustrating sometimes. That’s why it’s important to make self-care part of your daily routine. Take breaks during your day to ensure you’re taking care of yourself. Find a few minutes just to breath, do some stretching, or take a five-minute walk around the block.
For many of us, it is helpful to talk to a mental health professional who can provide an objective view and offer solutions. Don’t let mental health related stigma stop you from getting the care you need.
Check out some of MPact’s other resources