For the last couple of months, we have resisted.
We’ve made phone calls, sent postcards, and protested. We’ve spread the word about legislation up for review, and we’ve shown up for town hall meetings to let our representatives know where we stand.
Some of us have been truly politically active for the first time in our lives; answering a call-to-act based on our country’s current needs. We’re looking at an America that’s become unrecognizable to us: one where all of the ugly-isms have become a little too mainstream for our comfort. Racism. Sexism. Anti-Semitism.
Then there are the phobias: homophobia, transphobia. These things aren’t lurking in the dark anymore.
That doesn’t even take into consideration an administration who finds new ways to threaten the environment on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis: Threaten programs like Meals on Wheels for seniors or free or reduced lunch for low-income children or the National Endowment for the Arts. Almost every day there’s a news story of another bomb threat to a Jewish Community Center or an assault based on someone’s ethnic or religious background.
Frankly, it’s exhausting.
But that doesn’t mean we should quit. Instead, we should remember that when we’re tired and need to rest, someone else will carry on in our place. There’s always, always, always time for us to take care of ourselves.
We have to lay down the guilt that we’re simply too tired for another card or call or protest. We have to take the time we need to recharge, so that we’ll be ready to relieve someone else when we rejoin the resistance—fully rested and ready to do our part to make this country a place we can be proud to call home.
So when it’s time to take our break and recharge, here are some self-care strategies to remember:
- We need to make sure we’re getting enough sleep. When we have time, we can take a nap. We can make sure to go to bed early when we’re able. If we’re not getting enough sleep, it’s going to be tough for anything else that we do to truly help.
- We need to make sure that we’re getting enough to eat. When we’re rushing through the day or running on stress and caffeine, it’s easy to skip meals or simply grab an unhealthy snack or meal on-the-go. When we begin to feel run down, we need to make sure that we’re eating regularly, particularly something healthy during the day. We need to make sure we’re keeping up our energy by fueling our bodies with good food.
- We need to make sure that we are getting some exercise. Sure, it’s tough to find time, but exercise is a great stress reliever and energy booster. Depending on our activity level, we can go for a short walk or a long run. We can take an exercise class or lift weights or even jump rope. Even playing a sport is a great way to get a little exercise. Throw a ball or frisbee with a friend or just dance. It doesn’t matter what we do; it just matters that we get up and move!
- We can take time to laugh. Laughter is an important part of self-care. We can watch a comedy or go to a live comedy show. We can spend time laughing with friends. We can check out funny videos online. Laughter is wonderful for our health and a great way to decompress when we find ourselves overwhelmed by resistance fatigue.
- We can take the time for creative expression. There are so many options. We can color, draw, or paint. We can sing or play music. We can sew or crochet or quilt. We can build something. We can find many ways to express ourselves and relieve stress. If we don’t consider ourselves artistic; we can take a painting or sculpting class and allow an instructor to help us learn something new.
- We can take a break from social media and the news. When we feel strong resistance fatigue, we can take a timeout from taking in any more news. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break to recharge.
- We can find time to meditate. A meditation practice is a wonderful way to decompress. There are so many apps that offer guided meditations that can fit into even the busiest schedule.
- We can tend a garden. Planting something or tending a plant can be a great way to touch base with nature and give ourselves a break from all of our political action.
- We can remember to breathe. When our stress levels get high, we can forget to breathe deeply. It’s important to make sure we’re taking deep breaths, and doing so can help us re-center and recharge.
- We can get a massage. Massage is an awesome way to help when we feel fatigue. My personal favorite is a hot stone massage.
- We can also turn our attention to good news. We can start to look at the world as a dark place if all of the news we focus on is about human rights violations and constant assaults on the environment. Instead, we can check in with the Good News Network and other positive news sources to read about the positive actions that have been taken to make the world a better place. We can even go a step further and make sure we’re sharing these kinds of stories with our friends and family.
- We can learn something new. Forget politics for a minute. We can learn something we’ve always been interested in. We can learn with a TED talk or a podcast or simply by checking out an interesting library book or googling random things we want to know.
- We can declutter our homes or car. Of course, if this will add additional stress, skip this step. But if clutter becomes another source of stress, we can tackle a small area and get it organized.
- Travel. We can go on a day trip or take a vacation. Even if we can’t leave town, we can see our towns as a tourist would and look for something fun to do.
- We can remember to maintain a positive inner dialogue. We can focus on positive things about ourselves and others and look at things from a solution-focused perspective.
- We can play a board game or card game with friends. Games are a fun way to relax and recharge.
- We can also use our rest time to evaluate our priorities. We can begin to focus on a particular area that we’re passionate about rather than spreading our energies too thin. Or we can simply focus on one specific cause at a time. Another way to focus and find balance is to limit our resistance to certain timeframes during the day so we don’t feel like it’s taking over our whole lives.
- We can express gratitude. Simply being thankful helps us to remember why we’re resisting. This is a wonderful daily practice to keep us focused and in a positive mindset.
- We can find time to play. We need to let out our inner child. Whatever we loved as kids, we probably still love. We need to indulge that. Get silly. Do something fun. We need to remember that this is every bit as important as adults as it is with children.
- We can spend time in nature. We can get outside and soak in the sun or go for a hike. Even stepping outside to take a few deep breaths and focusing on natural beauty can be an enormous relief when we’re feeling bogged down by responsibility.
- We can have sex. Seriously, just get laid. I cannot speak enough about this form of stress relief. Add some cuddling in with this one. Just having time to physically connect can do wonders for recharging our energy and relieving stress.
- We can give ourselves permission to check out. Binge-watch that Netflix show while indulging in a favorite comfort food. Or put on our favorite comfortable outfit or pajamas and spend the day on the couch or in bed. We can take a lazy day and refuse to feel bad about chores or other responsibilities going undone.
- We can take the time to do something nice for someone else. Send a letter of gratitude. Buy someone flowers. Send a sweet text. We can do something to brighten someone else’s day.
- We can take a long, relaxing bath. I favor a long bath with a good book to relax. I’ll even add in a delicious bubble bath that smells wonderful and put on a face mask. But regardless of how we enjoy that time, we can turn basic hygiene into a time to practice self-care for our bodies. A dry French bath is another way to care for our skin.
- We can read a good book or relax with a magazine. Indulge in something fun or interesting. Don’t feel that you have to pick up a biography or some new book on intersectional feminism or how to overthrow a fascist regime. We can indulge in an entertaining read without guilt.
I could list self-care techniques all day, but what we really need is to cancel the guilt trip and instead do whatever things nourish our bodies and our souls.
We need to remember that we can’t resist anyone or anything if we’re too exhausted to go on. We need to fight for and value our own lives as much as we do others.
It’s exhausting to resist, but it’s also important. And to continue our important work, we need to make sure that we’re taking the time to recharge when we’re weary.
Remember that someone else will carry the load until we’re ready to resume.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Sara Kärpänen