The world is really overwhelming right now. There’s a lot of awful stuff happening as a result of President Cheeto and his fascist regime. During these times, it’s really important to take care of yourself. Self-care manifests in a lot of different ways.
Sometimes, it’s about taking a step back and taking a break from all of the insanity. Other times, self-care means taking uncomfortable actions that set boundaries. Setting these boundaries is an act of resistance against the oppressive regimes that are surrounding us right now.
Here are some ways that self-care can intersect with resistance:
1. Taking some time to decide what it is you believe in and how hard you’re willing to fight
Everything is really confusing right now. There is so much happening so quickly that it’s hard to know what you think about each issue. It’s hard to identify where to put your time and energy. It’s hard to decide what you’re willing to fight for and how hard you’re willing to fight.
But you need to decide now if you’re going to help the resistance. Taking the time to figure out which issues are most important to you will allow you to focus your efforts, which will help prevent you from spinning in despair and from burning out trying to do everything.
2. Empowering yourself through education
Once you’ve decided which issues you want to focus on, take the time to educate yourself. Without taking the time to educate yourself, you won’t be able to make informed decisions about your resistance and you won’t have the knowledge required to confront bigotry and oppression when you encounter them. Many people are feeling to overwhelmed to take action right now, but education is just as important as action.
If you are new to these issues, you can read books, look at articles on the Internet, watch documentaries on YouTube and Netflix, listen to podcasts. There are so many ways to absorb information that will arm you for the resistance. Empowering yourself through education gives you the tools to protect yourself while confronting the awful world outside your walls.
3. Making it publicly known what you stand for and what you believe in
It’s time to take sides. I hate to have to say that, but it’s true. The country is crumbling, with us inside it, and it’s time to let people know where you stand. This is scary because it almost always comes with some sort of backlash, be it in person or on social media.
But making it clear to everyone you know what you believe will let them know what you find acceptable and unacceptable, which sets you up to set boundaries that will allow you to take care of yourself.
4. Confronting people who say unacceptable things
When you hear someone say something racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, or otherwise problematic things, it’s much easier to roll your eyes and dismiss them. If staying safe means not saying anything, then stay quiet.
Your safety always comes first. But if you’re in a relatively safe situation, say with friends or family, calmly confront the person about their comment. Point out why their comment is problematic and then try to educate them.
Realistically, you probably won’t change their mind, but speaking up is an act of self-care. You are publicly setting a boundary about what is and is not acceptable in your presence, and if that boundary is respected it means that you will be in safer spaces in the future.
5. Knowing when to cut a toxic person out of your life
This is one of the hardest forms of self care there is, especially in times like these when people’s true colors begin to show. Someone you have known and loved for years may feel empowered to say things now they never did before. You may find that someone you love is not who you thought they were. If you have confronted someone about their problematic views, beliefs, or comments, and tried to educate them, but they continue to be problematic, it may be time to cut ties.
This is painful and sad every time it has to happen, but cutting out bigoted people is the ultimate form of self care. It shows that you love yourself enough not to be poisoned.
6. Using your voice to speak out against oppression
I have found incredible comfort in being a writer. I am gifted at both of these things. When I feel like I’m going to explode from all the negativity inside, I sit down in front of my laptop or with a notebook and pen, and I write. I let words flow over the page until I feel like all the feeling has come out. When I’m done, I feel amazingly cleansed.
Since I have been published, I have also found that my words have a power to reach people and connect them. You don’t have to be a professional writer, or even a very good one for your words to reach and connect people, you just have to be honest. Start a blog or write Facebook posts, whatever medium work for you. Get the negativity out and share it with others so the resistance can spread.
7. Knowing when you need to rest – and doing just that
Standing up to oppression is an exhausting, daily battle. You will be overwhelmed, you will be upset, you will be angry, and you will be oh, so tired. Activism burnout is really high. People throw themselves in to the work hard and fast, get too overwhelmed and just as quickly back away. Most people never come back and then resistance starts to fade because there are not enough people to sustain it.
If you don’t take care of yourself then you can’t be any help to the resistance. Instead of throwing yourself in to activism hard and fast, pace yourself. Take on commitments in a way that allows you to take days off for yourself. Don’t over-commit yourself.
Know when to reduce the number of commitments you’ve taken on, but make sure to keep the commitments you can. You are valuable to the resistance as a person, not a cog in a machine. Bring your whole, healthy, committed self, not a burnt-out shell.
The activist icon Audre Lorde called self care an “act of political warfare.” Self care is essential to being a member of the resistance. Doing the hard work of protecting yourself by setting boundaries and standing up for what you believe in is the act of political warfare that Audre Lorde talked about. Take care of yourself and join the resistance.