How do you nourish, maintain, bolster, and preserve yourself when the world feels chaotic and draining?
For me it’s any number of the following: warm coffee or hot tea, baking and cooking, reading real books, listening to podcasts, walking in nature, or talking to a friend.
It’s also just doing something normal like sitting with my family while I eat a healthy meal and not trying to multitask while I eat.
It’s being in the moment with my children and/or partner or family members.
It’s enjoying a holiday tradition.
It’s taking a break from social media or checking my phone constantly. I am overdue for this.
We’ve had back to back snow days here. This is a rare occasion for us, so we took advantage and enthusiastically played outside until we were cold, wet, exhausted and hungry. I had purposely not been checking my phone this morning or checking social media or news because I felt myself needing a break from the constant information and opinion bombardment we’ve been under lately.
Then as I helped make a snowman with my kids and was having fun being in the moment with them, I felt a pang of guilt.
I felt like as I played and lost track of what has been worrying me lately, that I was letting up, that I wasn’t being vigilant. Maybe I feel like I am more in control when I am vigilant about worrying and trying to keep up with the constant stream of information I’m bombarded with and thinking about ways to resist what is so objectionable to me.
I have to remember though that being in the moment with my kids is really the best medicine and the best motivation for me to do what I need to do. It helps them and me. As we played in the snow and later tonight when I read books and sang some songs with them before bed, I thought about how this feeds their minds and hearts and souls and that this is what childhood is made of. While I am trying to work toward making the world better for them by educating myself, writing, advocating and finding actions I can be part of to make progress, I have to also be there with them. Present.
I know others are feeling similar to me. How do we find a way to sustain this motivation and momentum in civic engagement and activism? I acknowledge that I have only been feeling alarmed and outraged at this acute level since election night. People have been tired much longer and much deeper than me and continue to move forward in activism and living their lives despite oppression and fear for physical safety.
Because of my career and also being a mother, I am already aware that self care is essential. It’s that often repeated metaphor about putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others. But it is also the fact that we deserve to be taken care of and we deserve to rest a bit. Whatever it is that helps you take care of yourself and rest, recharge, remember who you are and what you’re doing here and why, do it. Also whatever helps you not lose your mind and throw your hands in the air and say “f*%# it!”… do that too.
In the early days of working with families and children and being in social work school, I thought the discussions about self care were so cheesy. The lists of ideas for self care and discussions, ugh, they just seemed so half hearted and hippy dippy. Every time though that I have read a list of ideas for self care or been part of a discussion, I took away an idea I wanted to try. Really that’s what it’s about, trying different strategies and seeing what works. What has worked has changed over the 12 years of my life that I’ve done this type of work. Try new strategies if your usual ones no longer work for you.
Do you practice self care?
What works for you all?
How do we sustain a strong effort toward social justice, conserving the environment, improving the lives of everyday people and generally standing up for what we believe in at the same time that we take care of ourselves so we can continue to keep going?
Thanks for reading.