[Public Domain, PDPics]
These days, we all feel it. Sometimes, we’re fully conscious of the stress surrounding us. Other times, we’re less aware of it concretely but find ourselves unexpectedly anxious, irritable, or tired. This election season and its rhetoric have us on edge. . . We’ve witnessed police shootings and brutality on camera. . . Our social media newsfeeds have thrown us into traumatic subjects like gun violence, harassment, xenophobia, and sexual assault.
In times like these, I’m reminded of what my friend and colleague, the Rev. Lindsey Anderson says: Self-care is an act of resistance. It’s also an act of resilience.
Self-care is an act of resistance.
When we care for our bodies, minds, and spirits, we proclaim our worth and value. We do this in the face of forces which tell us otherwise. When we practice self-care intentionally, we resist troubling systems and isms along with their destructive hierarchies of worth. We are truly worth care and empowerment.
To practice self-care, there are times when we may need to step away temporarily from the rhetoric that swirls about us. We take space and ground ourselves in alternative messages which mirror the truth of our own value and power.
Privilege can get tricky here. If we find ourselves in a privileged position, we might be tempted to disengage from troubling rhetoric entirely. It’s not our battle, we may tell ourselves, even unconsciously. To avoid discomfort or responsibility, we may deny that discrimination, harassment, and violence are even real. In these cases, we wound others. When we distance ourselves from news stories and social media, it’s important to have self-awareness of what motivates us.
Yet in the midst of traumatic news and rhetoric, it’s important for us all to speak out, protest, and work for change. This is challenging work, and it requires self-care. When we feel like we’re buckling under the weight of it all, we need to root ourselves in the truth of our value. Even this — and at times, especially this — is resistance.
Self-care is an act of resilience.
When we practice self-care, we also give a gift of resilience to ourselves and our communities. Though our newsfeeds use algorithms to divide our social networks, we are affected by what our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances have to say. There are tensions and disagreements during this election season, yet our relationships and social ties continue to connect us.
When tensions are high, our social connections can create emotional contagions of anxiety and anger. Self-care in any one individual can slow that contagion. To be sure, anxiety and anger are natural and the most obvious and healthy responses to a threat. But unchecked, they can take on a life of their own. Self-care adds strength and resilence to wider social networks, increasing the potential that we can be responsive rather than reactive.
So where do you find yourself in this conversation?
Do you need to engage self-care, and if so, what works for you?
Let us know in the comments.