June 17, 2020

Self-Care for Activists: Don’t Burn yourself to the Ground while Setting the World on Fire.


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If you are anything like me and find it unavoidably alluring to curl up in bed and forget about the world, especially when things are going as hard as they are now, or maybe you are lacking some “oomph,” maybe you are completely overwhelmed—this article is for you.

I’ve never considered myself blind to global issues, nor to societal problems that affect our day-to-day lives. Although when it comes to the overwhelming side of these issues, I have such a knack for compartmentalising.

For those of you who are unsure, to compartmentalise is to, say, have boxes in your brain. It is to separate your life into bits and pieces with the goal, I think, to be able to process and deal with life—or to simply throw whatever it is out of the window for a chunk of the foreseeable future. Compartmentalising is my demon for when it all gets to be too much.

So what I want to say to all those tirelessly working for change and to support others is Don’t forget about your inner, personal life while working for the millions. Sacrifice is only possible for the non-essentials, and I’d say you were pretty damn essential.

“Ignorance is bliss,” they say, but it is also substantially detrimental to the well-being of humanity, and ourselves. Because ignorance is comfortable, it also leaves us with a lack of growth, depth, and awareness—things that make life real, sparkling, and flavourful. We appreciate the vast and infinitely important work you do, and I want to ask you to take as much care of yourself too.

The last two weeks (although in reality, the previous centuries) have ached for the change. I feel this time it is in such a profound way—how it has reached beyond the choir, how it is sparking change in many acute ways while working toward the big picture.

We can connect the globe over; the camera catches the truth and situations, and stories and groups that we otherwise would not know about are right in our faces. I know many of us believe intensely and with a severity that there has to be a radical turnaround, a drastic difference.

Many of us live deeply invested. So much so that it is much too easy to get caught up in the tsunami of the messy, unjust political world, the seriously revolting culture that does exist; that we have been living in; and that can engulf you, rip you inside out, and eat you alive.

I have spent the last few days drained of all emotional ability to give myself the support and care that I need. I’ve not eaten much, coffee and the internet replaced that sweet H2O, no point in a shower, and sleep became only a break in between ongoing destruction.

I know that this pattern can last much, much longer. The beauty of self-work is that when I see myself slipping into unhelpful territory, I get better and better at recognising it and stopping it.

Together, we’ve cried, we’ve talked, and we’ve battled—in our circles, online, and in the streets. To keep up this energy and the beautiful ability to stand up and fight for our rights, we must take immense care of ourselves.

They will expect it to end with no fuss. Some people want you to burn out and stop talking. Let the critics call it “liberal bullsh*t.” The human rights we are fighting for are not political; they are fundamental to our existence; there is no space for debate. It is not a debate.

We must continue to band together like never before, the globe over—speak, yell, educate, and march for each other and change. Drown out the others; this is bigger than one person and their irrelevant, crappy opinion.

The energy, the strength, and the ability we all need to keep going relies on your beautiful drive for difference, which involves the priority of personal care. I promise you that.

Take time for yourself to mourn and to allow the feelings to bubble. The pain, anger, upset, disbelief must help to fuel you. Take time to learn, listen, and watch. Take more time to sit in the depths of this fight for rights.

Water. Drink it, bathe in it, let it run over your body. Water is healing, and it is cleansing. Water is reviving.

Food. Cook it, savour your mouthfuls, share it. Eating is a root of survival—let it energise you and nourish you.

Rest. Breathe. Relax. We are here for the long run, and we are working for a better life for our brothers, our sisters, our human family. We can’t afford for such prominent people to burn out.

I understand the privilege in what I outlined above, and I hope for you all to give and share these privileges to others who do not have that choice right now—that is essential.

Love, hug, kiss, connect passionately, be kind—give as much love and receive as much as you can. There cannot be anger amongst the family fighting for the same cause. Love those whom you come home to, love those whom you fight beside, and you will go out to battle with a heavier heart and more durable armour.

If you want to turn off, turn it all off. I can’t imagine how difficult and perilous it is for those in America right now. The fact is self-care may be so far out of reach for you—but please breathe and feel what it is to be human, and let yourself be that.

If you are hurt, rest. Let it burn without you until you can get up and go again.

Please, look after yourself.

A revolution depends on its army strong and capable, and a revolution is what we damn well need.

To all the workers—frontline and background—I love you all so very much, and this is a tribute to you.

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