Three decades ago Audre Lorde, the feminist poet and activist, wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. ” All of these years later Lorde’s framing of self-care is critically important as we struggle for justice in these tumultuous days. Continuing the arduous work of creating a more just, compassionate world requires us to pause, to rest, and to heal. Do not lose heart.
The practice of sustaining ourselves looks different for everyone and may take some experimenting to figure out what works best. Below are a few suggestions to consider trying as we navigate the days and months ahead. Many of these ideas are probably ones you’ve heard before, but we hope this list serves as a gentle reminder to make your well-being a priority.
Show your body some love and gratitude. The stress and ‘busyness’ of life often take a toll on our physical health, but we don’t always feel it until a crisis comes on. So do what you can to give your body the care and respect it deserves. Schedule that haircut or teeth cleaning you’ve been putting off. Actually take your lunch breaks (away from your desk!) Get outside, play with that puppy, crank up that music. When stress runs high, practice a few deep breaths or gentle stretches.
Consume news mindfully. Identify what sources of news are triggering and which are helpful in keeping you informed. If news notifications are distracting or anxiety-inducing, turn them off. If you’re worried about missing an important story, consider blocking off fifteen minutes in the morning (preferably not right after you wake up) and in the evening (preferably not right before going to bed) to get caught up.
Unfollow social media accounts that cause unnecessary stress. If there is a particular news outlet, pundit, or personality that constantly makes your blood boil, protect your energy by clicking “unfollow.” Online marketers purposefully exploit our emotions for revenue, so don’t let them! As with news consumption, consider scheduling a finite block of time for social media. You may even want to delete the apps from your phone or tablet to prevent mindless scrolling.
Choose online battles wisely. Not every argument is worth your time. When there is a matter you’d like to discuss, share your expertise wisely and compassionately, and feel free to practice the “chime in and let it go.” You can even turn off notifications for that particular conversation thread.
Likewise, choose in-person battles wisely. It’s ok– and even healthy– to say no to that committee, or march, or meeting. The path to justice is not a sprint, or a marathon. It’s a relay. It’s ok to pass the baton to others when you’re low on spirit or need time to recharge. Remember this advice from La Sarmiento: “Know that in any given moment, our comrades are working for causes that matter. For one of us to take a break for a few minutes or a few days is totally OK.”
Remember that you are not alone. Isolation can be soul crushing. We’re here for you! If you’re looking for more support and solidarity, please send a request to join our private Faith in Women Facebook group. We’d love to have you. Or send us an email!