Zeenat Afzal: Activist Self Care

Hey there troopers,

It’s been a hard few weeks, huh? Particularly for those of that see yourself as an activist. Despite the political maelstrom, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. Being an activist comes with a lot of blah, but it doesn’t have to wear you out 24/7.

It’s perfectly okay to feel exhausted. Your exhaustion is valid because activist burnout is a real thing, and there are ways you can get through it. Understand that being selfish isn’t always a bad thing – it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes, considering all the other times you’re giving it your all to ensure unity is a possible consequence. It is not your responsibility to take on the burden of educating the masses; your health is important, too.

So, if you’re the friend that “gets a bit too into it”, this one’s for you!

 

Symptoms – Notice when you’re burning out.

Everyone experiences different symptoms, but a few include fatigue, isolation, lack of motivation, guilt and insomnia to name just a few. No matter what you’re feeling, I promise you that feeling is valid. It’s a normal response and you’ll find many other activist buddies will be feeling similarly. You are not alone.

Solutions – Stop… now take a step back

Now that you are able identify a burn out, the moment you feel like you’re gravitating in that direction just stop and take a breath. Go for a short walk to the sink. Grab a glass of water, and get something to eat. A loss of appetite is common in overwhelming situations, so try to keep a routine of food and movement to keep yourself awake and alert. Stay hydrated. Why not also try working though some mindfulness exercises to calm down, too.

Sign off – Step away from the Internet

Media is one of the biggest triggers for activist burnouts, because news is everywhere. I can understand that it can be draining to watch hateful videos and comments fill up your news feed, so sometimes signing off for a few days can do you the world of good. If you think people will worry, you can leave a status or a message, but don’t feel like you owe anyone an explanation. This is healing time and if you need to deactivate accounts, cut off some people, or even isolate yourself for a little while in order to breathe and sleep, you have every right to do so.

Support  Reach out to friends and family…

…Or anyone on the same level as you. Reaffirm your identity and self-worth with people who can relate. Try to avoid any political discussion whilst you’re in these moments, as it’ll allow your noggins to take a break, but also know that this is a group you can confide in, should you need to. You do not have to remain in contact with those that emotionally or mentally drain you, and you have every right to terminate relationships you don’t think will be beneficial for your growth as a person.

 

You have dealt with a lot, and some may think it’s not enough. Feeling overwhelmed or numb is okay; let yourself feel, and let nobody stop you from doing so. Whether the backlash gets better or worse tomorrow, stand tall and stand your ground, and let the new sunrise give you strength. You’ve been doing really well and how you are feeling is perfectly valid. YOU are valid. We’ve got this.

 

Peace and love, (and also come and get a hug if you need one)

Zeenat Afzal

Image credit: Kamina Walton