“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”
– Audre Lorde
Are you stressed about the upcoming presidential election? Same. This unique anxiety comes but once every 4 years, so it always feels novel and we never really adjust. This year, the election has implications for all of us, and it’s our civic duty to care.
However, in order to be vigilant in the fight for social justice, it is vital that we take care of ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, self-care is a form of activism, and without it, we cannot sustain political endurance.
To increase your self-care and ensure your long-term dedication to lasting change, practice the following strategies during difficult political times:
Don’t avoid the media, AND don’t overindulge in the media. It may feel like a privilege to tune out the news, but it is necessary to set boundaries in order to avoid falling down a rabbit hole and becoming an ineffective change agent. Take note of how much of your day is occupied by following the news via television, radio, podcasts, etc., and determine when you are receiving critical information versus when you are indulging in unnecessary political commentary. Stick to the daily highlights to keep yourself informed, and set boundaries with frequency of checking and length of time spent consuming media.
Hold space for feelings of uncertainty, hopelessness, and helplessness, and take action toward change by engaging in what is within your control. Register to vote, research candidates on your ballot, donate money to politicians and organizations that you care about, and encourage others to vote by writing letters or making phone calls to undecided voters.
“Self-care is choosing not to argue with people who are committed to misunderstanding you”
– Ayishar Akanbi
Know when to argue and when to let go. We are experiencing one of the most polarizing elections of our time, and while this can be an opportunity to introduce new information to change hearts and minds, not everyone is worth exerting your limited energy on. While conflict can lead to mutual understanding, some are set out to prove you wrong. Recognize when someone is willing to have an open and honest decision, and set boundaries with anyone who instigates arguments.
Above all else, take care of yourself. In order to make a difference in this world, you need to be functioning in this world. Funneling all of your energy into the political climate and ignoring your basic human needs will result in burnout. The presidential election takes place once every 4 years, but you exist in this world everyday. Social engagement and activism is a marathon, not a sprint.