Monday, January 30, 2017

Self-care when the world explodes

I freely admit that I am bad at taking care of myself. I've always been one to focus on taking care of everyone else, until I inevitably collapse or break down. It's not the healthiest of traits, I know, and it is something I'm working on.

Having been through the break-downs, I'm intimately aware of the idea that you can't take care of other people if you don't take care of yourself. And yes, I know it's hard, and it feels wrong somehow. Still, it's important to remember a few things:

  • There's no shame in taking a break. Turn off Facebook, Twitter, the news, whatever is sending you into the pit of despair at the moment, and take a breath. It'll be there when you get back, and you'll be that much stronger for not drowning in it the whole time.
  • Find something concrete you can do. For myself, I find that I feel a lot better if I can look at the problem and find one specific, concrete action that I can take. You don't have to solve everything, but everyone can do one small thing - join a protest, donate, pass on information to those who need it.
  • It bears repeating: You don't have to solve everything. What's going on right now is, frankly, terrifying, and it's hard to see how it's going to stop. You, single person reading this on a screen, are not solely responsible for fixing everything. If you feel like the only way to move forward is if you can do everything, then you're never going to get started.
  • There's still an awful lot of good right now - people are helping each other, scientists are making new discoveries that can lead to tremendous things every day, and something new is being created every second of the day. Remind yourself why you care what happens to the world by finding the good, and add to the good.
  • Get the rest you need, make sure you eat regularly, all the things that the stereotypical parent tells their kids when the kids are away from home. There's a lot of work to be done, and it's going to be really hard to do any of it if you pass out from exhaustion or dehydration.
Look, I'm going to do my best not to be hypocritical about this, and plan to take my own advice. No one's perfect, and there are going to be days when taking care of yourself and anyone else will seem like too much. That's OK - that's what self-care is for. The important thing is to keep yourself going, keep fighting, and keep adding to the good in the world. It's a lot, I know. Good thing there's a lot of us willing to do the work.