There is no way you can take care of yourself if there is no time for it. When things get busy, usually your self-care routine gets squeezed. Prioritize even if you spend a shorter time than what you planned. This is why self-care and community care have to go together.
Permission to rest is a crucial part of whatever [political] work must happen or will happen. Remember: “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”, as black, feminist, lesbian civil rights activist Audre Lorde said. Being effective takes energy, and that is precisely why rest is so important even while resisting.
Taking things too seriously can make you lose touch with your power and fire. If you can laugh at a situation, you have power over it. Whenever things seem at their worst, remember to laugh at yourself.
Put something on the calendar that you know you will be terrible at, like dance lessons, or a meditation retreat, or a boot camp. Find a writing partner who will help you with your work by reading it for you and telling you the truth about it with respect to help you improve it and for whom you will do the same thing.
Watch something that you find uplifting and allow yourself to tune out a bit from what is going on in the world. If reading is more your thing, go to your bookshelf and choose an old favorite or something you have been meaning to get to for a while, or if you don’t have physical books then e-books are a great option.
Set the tone by reflecting on the things you are grateful for and express that gratitude so that you start your days from a place of strength, optimism, and possibility. Repeat an affirmation or say a prayer. Whichever works for you.
Build a constellation of positive, authentic influencers who support, reinforce, and make each other better. You cannot remain on fire alone. You cannot remain a superstar alone. You just cannot be alone. Surround yourself with people who give you a super bounce rather than knock downs. The more you surround yourself with positive voices, the easier positive change will be to sustain and even amplify.
BUILD A CARING CULTURE WITH YOUR TEAM
Our suffering can be quite unbearable if we feel alone in holding it. This is not unique to us. We are not the only ones suffering. The scale of the problem brings up enormous fear and pain in all of us. Our sense of isolation is the first block we have to face. Otherwise, the feeling that nothing can be done is too heavy. Everything gets done through relationships and nothing gets done without them. By reaching out to your friends, family and peers, you’ll alleviate any possible feelings of loneliness and you might even gain some new insight, when talking about your anxiety and grief. Never feel like you have to manage the problem on your own. Be kind to yourself. It is ok to ask for support. It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of the climate crisis. However, sometimes the best way to tackle your climate anxiety and despair is through collective action, knowing that even the smallest interventions can promote significant unexpected changes.
With your ancestors buoying you, you will not sink. Call them to hold you and stand at your back. You’re part of a longer lineage. Think of a time your family or your ancestors or your people made a way out of no way. They were never meant to be there in the first place. But they were and with mastery they survived all kinds of obstacles. If you don’t have these stories, dig into your family history or those of your people — by our very existence, we all come from a legacy of survivors. Remember your grandparents who lived through war and the depression, or your mother who raised you and your siblings with no money. Just don’t forget that your ancestors are not only the ones that are immediately related to you. Your ancestors are the ones who you claim to be, because they make you feel brave, inspired and provide you a greater understanding of what is needed from you right now. Listen to the message they want to tell you about your purpose right now. Help cement this building of your altar to honor their lives and the paths they have paved before you.
The ritual of collectively caring has proven to be an incredibly effective way to build strong interpersonal bonds and transmit key values throughout generations. It is a ritual that creates a shared identity and builds a strong culture. Sharing rituals and playing together, triggers feelings of connectivity and meaning which stimulate mental flow states. These in turn reduce anxiety, increase energy, stimulate the emotions and focus.
Another way to build strong caring communities is celebrating wins, however small, as a form to celebrate strengths. Write one meaningful thing about someone you work with and one about yourself. This will force you to have something to celebrate about your colleagues and about yourself. Remember: if you are not well, you cannot celebrate others. Whatever seat you occupy, you have the power to create change worth celebrating.