Engaging in activism can be an enriching yet emotionally demanding journey. I jumped headfirst into activism with absolutely no regard for my mental health because it didn’t seem important when I was attempting to fight to change the world. Like, mental health, who? Even when I was at my most exhausted, and my brain was trying to tell me to take a break, I still left her on read. I ended up having to learn the hard way that burnout is real and that looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health. As an activist, nurturing your mental well-being to sustain your efforts and remain effective in creating positive change is crucial. Using our combined experience, The New Feminist team have put together 11 practical tips to help you prioritise your mental health while maintaining your passion and impact as an activist.
1. Practice Self-Care
Engage in regular self-care activities that recharge your energy and promote mental well-being. This includes mindfulness exercises, hobbies, spending time in nature, or enjoying quality time with loved ones. Prioritising self-care will help you replenish your emotional resources.
2. Establish Boundaries
Set clear boundaries to prevent burnout. Setting boundaries will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent overwhelming feelings of being spread too thin. Learn to say no when necessary, delegate tasks, and prioritise activities that align with your values and goals.
3. Seek Support Networks
Connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion for activism. Join support groups, attend workshops, or engage in online communities. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network can provide emotional validation, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging.
4. Practice Active Listening
Being an effective activist requires understanding the experiences and perspectives of others. Engage in active listening during conversations and demonstrations. This approach fosters empathy, builds bridges, and enhances your emotional well-being by cultivating deeper connections.
5. Embrace Self-Reflection
Regularly reflect on your motivations, successes, and challenges as an activist. Engage in journaling or self-reflection exercises to gain insight into your emotional state and personal growth. This introspection can enhance your self-awareness and help you navigate your activism journey more effectively.
6. Balance Media Consumption
While staying informed is important, excessive exposure to distressing news can negatively impact mental health. Limit your media consumption and choose reliable sources. Set specific times to catch up on current events, ensuring a healthy balance between staying informed and protecting your mental well-being.
7. Prioritise Physical Health
Physical and mental health are interconnected. Engage in regular exercise, eat nutritious meals, and prioritise sufficient sleep. Physical well-being contributes to mental resilience, helping you stay focused, energised, and better equipped to handle the demands of activism.
8. Take Breaks
Recognise when you need to step away and take breaks from activism. Allow yourself time to rest, recharge, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. This rejuvenation helps prevent burnout and ensures you can sustain your commitment to creating change.
9. Engage in Mindfulness
Mindfulness enables you to stay present, centred, and resilient in the face of challenges. Practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. These practices can help you manage stress, enhance emotional regulation, and improve overall mental well-being.
10. Consider Therapy
If activism-related stress becomes overwhelming, seeking professional help can be beneficial. Therapy can empower you to navigate activism’s emotional demands with greater ease. A therapist can provide a safe space for you to process emotions, explore coping strategies, and develop resilience.
11. Be your own best friend
The one thing we all agreed on is that you have to be kind to yourself. Making mistakes can hit a little harder when you’re an activist because we’re actively trying, but remember that nobody is perfect, and everybody makes mistakes. When mistakes happen, keep trying and don’t be hard on yourself. Talk yourself through it as you would a best friend.
Remember that your well-being is essential to your ability to make a lasting difference in the world. As an activist, nurturing your mental health is vital for sustained impact and personal well-being. You can maintain a healthy balance by practising self-care, establishing boundaries, seeking support, and prioritising self-reflection while creating positive change.
If you need help you can find resources here.