|Collaboratively created from Roots |
& Remedies 2013 conference
Taking time to rest the body and nurture the soul is a foreign practice among many activists, grassroots organizers/leaders and folks who work hard each day to make ends meet. Self-care is often seen as a luxury that they haven't the time or resources to commit. It is also seen as a selfish, indulgent act that takes precious time away from addressing the critical needs and issues facing Black, Brown and poor communities. Taking care of onself - in the way(s) a person defines for her/him/themself - is in reality a long-term investment in the fight for justice and societal transformation. I want to highlight a couple of key things:
- Self-care must be defined by each person for her/him/themself, but should always include rest. There is no shortage of studies that speak to the beneficial impacts of sleep and the harmful impacts of *not sleeping.* What may be considered other forms of care, however, vary vastly and can range from doing certain things to not doing certain things; being alone or being in community; spreading moments of care throughout the day or concentrating care in one day; fasting or indulging; and so on. Another important thing to note is that what self-care looks like one day may change another day...and that is OK. The key thing is to define what care means for you and make time to do it.
- Self-care helps create the conditions in people's bodies and lives that support and sustains them in the long run. Further, as a person remains firm to the commitment of care, she/he/they sends a message to family, friends, comrades and co-workers that her/his/their well-being matters and the practices to maintain well-being should be respected. People may agree with you or not; they may support you or not. The key thing is that you institutionalize your commitment to care through consistent practice.
- Having an accountability partner is often quite helpful when a person hits emotional lows, becomes especially busy and/or encounters moments when self-care gets the boot. This partner may be a friend, co-worker, family member, and/or someone with whom one crosses paths on a regular basis (at the gym, work, park, online, via email etc.). The key thing is that you are able to check in on a regular basis about your self-care practices and how you are doing.
We are living in a historical moment characterized by just in time production, immediate gratification and the expectation of immediate results. And this leaves many of us who live in communities impacted first and worst by climate change, environmental destruction, economic apartheid, etc. and many others who seek justice in this world feeling as though we must drive ourselves into the grave to bring about meaningful change. Such focus on the external, with little investment in the internal creates an imbalance. It is important to remember that we can change the world as we change ourselves. And we can change ourselves as we change the world.
Self-care. Let us recommit to making it part of our daily practice.