Tips for Self-Care as an Activist

Changing the world is a marathon, not a sprint and we need to plan our activism accordingly. Here are some tips to practice self-care along the road to animal liberation!

DxE activists bear witness during a vigil at a duck slaughterhouse in Sonoma County, CA.

DxE activists bear witness during a vigil at a duck slaughterhouse in Sonoma County, CA.

  1. Find a support team. Just like a support team giving marathoners water and high fives at each mile, we need support from the people around us to keep going on our activist journeys. After all, those can last a lifetime! But remember, you don’t need to change the whole world on your own — in fact, you can’t. We have the most impact when we are united and help lift each other up. So when you need help, ask for it! It’s when you ask that you get the advice, the resources, or simply the encouragement that you need. Plus, sometimes it helps just talking through how you’re feeling — and hearing that others go through similar experiences. Surround yourself with people who want to help you reach your potential as an activist. Be willing to ask them for help, and be willing to help them, too.

  2. Make time for the things that recharge you. What things help you relax or focus your mind? Is it working out? Do you need to start your day with a run? Maybe it’s meditating, reading novels, or spending time with animals. Whatever it is you enjoy, these personal activities can help you be a better activist! Just like your body needs time to sleep in order to restore all its internal systems, your mind needs time to recharge, too. Taking time to tune your mind can make you more productive when you get back to work. Ideally, the work itself also provides you with motivation if it is something you find interesting or a challenge you’re excited to tackle. But changing the world is a difficult job and even though there’s enough work to spend every minute on it, you can actually increase your effectiveness by carving out time in your schedule to step away from the work and recharge. It’s all about balance. Just like sleep, you can get too little, and you can get too much. And different people need different amounts. So find the balance that works for you and schedule in your personal needs.

  3. Do your best and be okay with failing. Activism is tiring, yes, but sometimes we make it more tiring than we have to. Have you ever put off doing something because you thought it was going to be hard or scary, and then once you did it, realized it was easier than you thought? We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as activists, sometimes feeling the weight of the world on our shoulders, and we can build things up in our minds to hold ourselves back. Remind yourself that all you can do is the best you can do, and then do it! You might be thinking, “Really? Your tip for self-care is to work?” The thing is, I know I feel the best about myself and about the world when I’m really doing my best work. And that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m successful, but it means I’m trying and learning and getting closer to success in the process. So if you’re struggling to get going, if you’re feeling mental barriers between yourself and the activist you want to be, just remember you can only do the best you can do and be okay with failing. When I get writer’s block, it helps me to tell myself, “Just write something bad.” Setting expectations that I’m going to write something bad and it’s going to be okay lets me have fun with it. It gets me to actually write. And if what I write is good, great. And if what I write is bad, at least I have something written and now I can work on making it better. If you’re worried about doing outreach, planning an event, or editing a video, just remember that you can do a bad job! So do it, have fun, and get ready to get better.

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4. Get plenty of sleep.

5. Start your day with something pleasant, even something as simple as a cup of tea or some stretching.

6. Adopt a gratitude practice, like listing three things you’re grateful every morning when you wake up.

7. Acknowledge your successes along the way, and consider writing them down in a list to remember them later when you need a reminder.

8. Have a spontaneous solo dance party (or grab a friend who’s nearby) when you need a quick pick-me-up!