‘In the unlikely event of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.’
I’ve been avoiding this article for the past month or so, but today, after begrudgingly deleting my Instagram app because it’s all just too goddamn much, I figured it’s time to flesh this one out.
Today, the world is HELLA connected. Globalisation and the subsequent take over of the Internet has squeezed everyone on our planet under the same roof. We’re all in one scruffy massive share-house, writing each-other passive-aggressive notes and banging on the bathroom door because Jerry here is wasting all of the hot water.
Humour aside, the interconnectivity has triggered a whole lot of consequences; both largely negative, largely positive and some in between.
One positive is the new wave of activism; the social media era has given us all microphones and microscopes. We’re all an expert if we want to be and have the means to share it if we want to.
But what does this mean for the activist themselves? One big fat double-edged sword.
While we have the power to reach thousands with our message, join collective movements and constantly evolve by keeping up to date with current events and discussions, we’re also prone to mega, destructive compassion exhaustion.
The truth is, effective activism begins with caring for ourselves. Investing personal energy and time into the causes your passionate about is a risky business unless you’re considering your own needs first. If you can’t care for yourself, you can’t help the world around you.
Switch off – completely
Whether you choose to keep your notifications turned off, disconnect for a day or a week, or set time limits for your work, make sure you find the time to switch off regularly, whatever that means for you.
Indulge in hobbies that have nothing to do with your cause
While this is switching off too, it’s vital for you to have hobbies and passions outside of your passion cause. For me, I make digital art and listen to crime podcasts. What is it for you?
Be mindful of the conversations you’re having in your personal life
It’s important to talk about your passion cause with loved ones and get them involved, but if you find yourself coming back to the topic too often, then you’re not really switched off are you?
Just this morning I told my partner I deleted my Instagram because it was too much for me this week. I told him why, and then we talked about Australia’s new approved coal mine, Chennai running out of water and eco-superiority. I’d accidentally just switched WAY back on.
Talk to other activists in your sphere
Ask them how they look after themselves and switch off, swap reading materials and spread love if you’re feeling off. Chances are, they’ll spread it right back.
Don’t compare yourself to other activists
With social media being the bread and butter of modern-day activists, it’s easy to feel like your flailing behind in your mission if somebody else has a bigger reach or following than you do. Cut that mindset- it’s not helpful and it’s not necessarily true. You have no idea of the power of your message- your follower count and likes don’t reflect your impact.
Remember your slice of the pie
Activism work can get a bit overwhelming when you are passionate about a lot of causes- and although most issues are extremely intersectional, you can’t personally tackle them all. So choose your slice of the pie. It doesn’t mean you have to stick to it, and it doesn’t mean you have to steer clear of other topics, but it limits your compassion scope down just a smidge. This leaves room for more effective work, less overwhelm and more clarity in your cause.
Be realistic about your workload
Don’t give away all of yourself. While it feels like there is a lot to conquer everyday (the list NEVER ends), be realistic about what you can and can’t do in a day, a month, a year, or even your lifetime. Stop putting pressure on yourself to do it all and change the world. Setting yourself unrealistic goals is the quickest way to burn out and a negative mindset.
Create a self-care routine and stick to it
This is important for EVERYONE but if you’re working at a cause that can suck you dry, you need to keep your own fuel tank full. I’d be a hypocrite if I gave you further advice on this (I suck at this pointer), but it’s definitely important.
Remember that your offline efforts are as important as your online efforts
When we focus our efforts online, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture – but it’s there. When you talk about your passion cause offline, it reaches a very special demographic that doesn’t indulge in your social media: think your grandma, your dad, your colleagues. Spreading information counts even if it’s not online – in fact sometimes, it counts more.
Don’t post online if you’re in a flurry of emotion
I’ve been very guilty of this before. We see something and it triggers something so deep inside us that we have to post about it now! But this might not be the best case scenario. Personally, I’ve found that when I post like this, I can’t clearly formulate my target message – which helps nobody.
If you are directly affected by the challenges your passion cause fights for, use these tips but AMPLIFY them
When your personal life and the lives of your loved ones are directly implicated by the challenges you are fighting, things can feel isolating and impossible. Switching off is more important than ever, as is focusing on yourself first and seeking help and support from your community.
So today, while you’re busy caring for mother earth and her people, don’t forget to look out for yourself first. It’s your most important and first fight, always.
Do you have any more self-care tips? Let me know in the comments below!