Social justice work can be a rewarding, yet draining, endeavor. We are bombarded with the ugliest of humanity – vicarious trauma and burnout can keep us from feeling purposeful or impactful.
NJCASA staff have been feeling it lately – we even struggled drafting this blog as self-care seems like a luxury or something else to do. But it is a necessity as we create safe and supportive spaces for all and push back against injustices. The knowledge that we are actively working to create a better world is part of the passion that keeps us going, but we are not immune to feeling exhausted or defeated, especially when tragedy after tragedy seems to occur within a short amount of time.
Self-care is a radical act where we reject forces of oppression and commit ourselves to effective social change.
When we feel that exhaustion or defeat creeping up, it is imperative that we prioritize and focus on self-care. Incorporating mindful self-care activities into our daily, weekly, or monthly routine can help stave off those negative feelings of burn out, but there is no harm in recognizing that engaging in self-care a little more than usual could be beneficial in times of great need.
We do not want to offer suggestions that feel like more work – we want to help practitioners, advocates, and supporters in feeling more connected to the present and empowered in the change they are creating in the world. We welcome and encourage you share with us on Twitter and Instagram from Monday the 15th to Sunday the 21st as we embark on a week-long journey to prioritize and embrace self-care during what may feel like a trying time for many of us.
Day 1 – Stay cool!
With summer in full swing and temperatures high in many parts of the state, finding some relief is on a lot of people’s to-do lists. Share with us your favorite way to stay cool, whether it’s staying hydrated with cold water, taking a trip to the beach, or staying inside a temperature-controlled space. Being present in your body – noting temperatures, hydration, and comfort levels – are ways we can celebrate physicality and physical strength!
Day 2 – Listen to an uplifting song.
Music can have an impact on our mood and emotions. Take some time today to listen to a favorite song that makes you feel good! Dance a little – movement and expression are ways for us to become present in the moment and find joy.
Day 3 – Build a better comments section.
For those of us in any sort of social justice work, we know the comment section anywhere is essentially off-limits unless we want to read something that would likely get under our skin. Let’s highlight the positive work being done and inherent value in everyone. Tweet at or post about someone who is making a difference – this could be a celebrity who is speaking out against sexual violence or someone in your personal circle who you admire. Expressing gratitude and appreciation build much-needed connections and support with others who may be feeling the weight of social change work.
Day 4 – Enjoy a favorite food or beverage.
We can nourish our bodies with foods and drinks that make us feel joyful. Take some time to enjoy a favorite meal, snack, or beverage. Don’t limit yourself to one type of food or assign value to a type of food. Connect with the joy of eating something that makes you feel alive and grateful.
Day 5 – Share your favorite app.
There are a ton of smartphone applications available for iOS or Android, some of which focus on self-care or meditation. Share with us your favorite app, whether it’s a specific self-care app, or another app you use to contribute to your well-being and happiness.
Day 6 – Revisit a favorite TV show, movie, or podcast episode.
Listen to your favorite podcast on the way home from work to unwind, or get comfortable when you get home and re-watch a favorite TV show episode or movie. Share with us why it’s a favorite!
Day 7 – Set goals.
We can forget to set aside time to do some intentional self-care. Try setting a goal to engage in one self-care act daily—whether it’s practicing deep breathing or meditation once a day, taking some time to talk to a loved one, listening to music, or another activity that makes you feel good. These goals will help us see self-care as important as the other work we do – because it is!
You are important. Your time is precious. You deserve to have a moment of peace and calm, even if others can’t access them right now. Self-care is one way of connecting back to ourselves and our passion for this work. We hope you’ll join NJCASA (and hold us accountable) as we strive to create balance and support for everyone who’s life is impacted by sexual violence.