Engaging in political and social change is practically a requirement in today’s political sphere. We are more connected now than ever before, both by technology and globalization, and consequently we’re being inundated with bad news at an unprecedented rate. How can we better juggle the complicated responsibilities of activism while maintaining a consistent routine of self-care?
It certainly feels like we have an idealistic responsibility to save the world, especially as educators, and that expectation can take a toll similar to academic pressure. Prioritization is a priority. You can’t solve every problem. Take a mindful moment before opening that newspaper article. Ask yourself: What matters to me? How do I feel about this particular topic? Is there anything I can immediately do to make a difference?
Let’s discuss easy ways to get involved.
Visit a National Park
One way to combine activism and self-care is by supporting environmental preservation and using national parks! Go for a hike, enjoy nature, and disconnect from reality for a little while. Fees are affordable and used specifically for park maintenance. Best of all, this is a family-friendly event, and can become a bonding experience between loved ones.
Sign a Petition
Sign a petition on petitions.whitehouse.gov/. Although social media may give the illusion of activism, retweeting an opinion about social change is not the same as becoming a part of that change. Sometimes one click is all we have time for, and this is the most holistic place to look for issues you’re passionate about.
Now, we don’t always have time to protest, march, volunteer, or any other traditional activist endeavor. Taking to the streets in peaceful protest isn’t an option for everyone, especially those with children, long work hours, or physical disabilities. It can be draining to stand in the sun or rain for hours.
When it’s possible, try turning your morning workout into a jog past the nearest event in your neighborhood to show support in a less demanding way. Donate spare change if you can. Smile or give a thumbs-up to those who do march — a little support goes a long way to lifting spirits.
The Three R’s
You’ve heard of reduce, reuse, and recycle. Now get ready for the three R’s of self-care: rest, relax, and rejuvenate. How can we multitask and maximize our commitment to these strategies? It’s not as complicated as it might sound — establishing environmentally-friendly habits can be great for mindfulness. Focus on ritualizing a craft like soapmaking or sewing. Go for #MeatlessMondays and cook with no distractions. Take a walk before taking out the recycling. Integrate activism into the daily routines you’ve already established in order to better manage your time.
Of course, voting is the most straightforward way of contributing to social change. Stay informed about local and national policies. Check out politician’s positions on key issues here for an easy-to-digest breakdown.
During election season, volunteering with nonpartisan Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts can be incredibly flexible. Joining a voter protection committee, helping those with mobility issues get to the polls, or creating a fresh volunteer group to serve your community are great in-person volunteer efforts. There are also initiatives directed over the phone or by text message. Calling constituents to work through a voting plan can be especially helpful for first-time voters.
Most of the time, human rights violations won’t be solved by simply calling your Senator. In those situations, practice gratitude. Think of a task you’re proud to have accomplished this week. What aspects of that task did you enjoy? What made it a proud moment? Compliment yourself on a job well done. Is there anyone else you can express gratitude for? Reach out to them with a complimentary message, too. Expressing gratitude can boost energy so that you’re better prepared to jump into the next task.
It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the divisive state of our nation, but remember, we’re in this together. Taking short breaks from the news cycle is okay. Sometimes it’s necessary to turn off the notifications, destress, and clear your mind in order to remember why activism matters in the first place. Taking care of ourselves is equally as important as taking care of each other.
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