By Myisha Battle
If 2017 taught us anything, it’s that the fight for justice and resistance against harmful political agendas takes a lot of energy. For those who are new to political activism or who were especially active in the last year, keeping up the fight can feel daunting. While the motivation to keep moving is still strong, on an individual level it can be hard to muster the strength to do more than re-tweet.
That is why self-care is such an important tool in the activist’s toolkit. But what does “self-care” mean and how does it help the resistance movement?
Those of us from underrepresented groups (women, people of color, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities) are the people who have been feeling, and will continue to feel, the brunt of this administration’s harmful social policies. Historically, we have also been the ones with boots on the ground supporting our communities and causes. That is why Audre Lorde wrote about the tactical nature of giving oneself time to renew.
Activist burnout is real. One way to combat it and make a greater impact on the issues that matter most to us is to give ourselves time to step away from the fight and enjoy life. Here are a few ways to decompress and reconnect to yourself and the people around you.
You’re going to find it really scary to do this, but occasionally unplugging is an essential part of maintaining our mental and emotional health. Being inundated with news and memes and internet chatter about current events can help us feel tapped into what’s going on, but it’s equally important to disconnect and allow ourselves time to process what we’re reading and hearing. Our brains don’t retain information well without periodic breaks. If you are glued to a screen most days, instate a device-free day or devote a few hours a day to being unplugged. I would suggest doing this in the evening to give yourself some brain processing time before bed.
2. Connect IRL with your community
It’s great to organize groups of people around a cause, but sometimes you need time with friends and family that doesn’t involve planning your next phone bank. We get a lot from the people around us. When we have a vision of what we want to achieve in this world, we can sometimes forget how much connecting to others can inspire and renew our focus.
3. Prioritize pleasure
As a certified sex coach, I know that sex is a great stress-reliever and helps ground us when we’re feeling adrift. Having a regular masturbation practice is great and, if you have a partner, sex is a fantastic way to share momentary relief from the terrors of the day.
But pleasure can come to us in ways other than sex. Do you love to write or paint? Has it been a while since you took a walk in nature? Do you rush through your morning coffee instead of really enjoying it? Prioritize what makes you feel good. If you make the time, the results can last all day.
4. Create daily rituals
Rituals aren’t woo-woo practices that take us away from the work we need to do. They are daily ways to connect to ourselves and the world around us. This is crucial for ongoing self-care.
When you have one or two small things you do every day, like wake up and set a positive intention or have a cup of tea or take a walk, you begin to notice the subtle differences that each day brings. Why is this important? Because despite how much we want our lives to be a certain way, it rarely happens that our vision is correct. Rituals ground us in the moments we have and set us up for acceptance of what’s to come.
5. Practice gratitude
After a news cycle of setbacks, it can be hard to think of anything positive — which is why practicing gratitude is so important. Being grateful for what has already been accomplished, appreciating the community you’re a part of and acknowledging the people fighting for change is all self-care. Gratitude allows us to step away from the long road ahead of us and look directly at how far we have come. Without that type of perspective, we cannot succeed.
If self-care seemed like something people with a lot of time and resources could do, not something you could easily work into your week, I hope I have helped show you that anyone can and should make time for themselves. We need all hands on deck and all minds on-point, but we can keep everything going while you recharge. We got you.
Myisha Battle is a certified sex and dating coach, writer, and speaker. Through coaching and her sex-positive podcast, Down for Whatever, Myisha provides accurate sexual information, instills pride in difference, and encourages the quest for sexual satisfaction no matter a person’s race, gender, orientation, ability or age. She empowers her clients, listeners and readers to embrace better sex for a better life. For more information visit myishabattle.com.
MARCHROOTS is a project of MARCH ON. We’re working at the national, state, and local levels to harness the power of those who marched on January 21, 2017 and take that passion straight to the polls in 2018 and beyond. We’re not afraid to resist, question everything, reach across the aisle, show up for what we believe in, and laugh to keep from utterly losing it.
Right now the movement needs YOU to take a poll. And hey, while you’re at it, host a party! Operation Marching Orders puts the marchroots — that’s you! — square in the center of the movement. This movement belongs to all of us. Head to www.operationmarchorders.com to register now.