On January 21st, an estimated 4.8 million people participated in the worldwide Women’s March to come together in support of human rights, including immigration and healthcare reform, women’s rights, support for the LGBTQIA community, environmental issues, freedom of religion and racial equality.
On February 16th, immigrants nationwide stayed home from school and work as part of the protest “A Day Without Immigrants.”
And coming up on International Women’s Day, March 8th, will be a Women’s Strike, called “A Day Without A Woman,” which according to their organizers;
“…Will be a day of action organized by and for women who have been marginalized and silenced by decades of neoliberalism directed towards working women, women of color, Native women, disabled women, immigrant women, Muslim women, lesbian, queer and trans women.”
President Trump’s inauguration sparked many groups of people into action, uniting them to take 10 actions within the first 100 days of his presidency. People that may have once felt as though they were alone are now being provided a platform and opportunity to come together to voice a common perspective. But as fulfilling as it is to take action when you feel strongly about a cause, it can be difficult not to get caught up in emotions, or feel as though you are even making a difference at all.
Activists ignite change, but in order to set a positive example, we need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves while we fight for everyone else.
I talked to the Associate Chair of the Psychology and Child Development department and Women’s and Gender Studies Professor at California Polytechnic University, Julie Garcia, who gave me some tips on how to practice self care while still being active in the causes you believe in.
LOOK TO WHERE YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
One of the most frustrating feelings as an activist, or anyone who is trying to enact change, is feeling as though you aren’t making a difference. Garcia encourages focusing your attention on the things you can do, rather than those you can’t. Send a letter to a congressman, attend meetings, make some pins and pass them out. Identify where it is that you can be of most assistance and focus your energy there.
FIND YOUR COMMUNITY
Social medias makes it so easy for you to be flooded with opinions that oppose yours, and while it is important to know what’s going on, it’s just as important to, “create a community of people with a similar mindset to yours,” says Garcia. It won’t do you any good to let your emotions run high or waste your time trying to argue with people who will not change their mind. Surround yourself with people who support the same causes you do, who bring you up and make you feel as though you aren’t fighting for your cause alone.
DOUBLE CHECK YOUR SOURCES
Social media, “creates an us-them,” mentality, says Garcia. There are many social media networks and algorithms that, based on the sources of information you’ve already viewed, feed you more information to confirm your bias. Garcia stresses the importance of double checking your sources and questioning what you read. “It feels good to feel like we’re right, feels good to find sources that say what we already think,” Garcia said. In order to know you’re getting a full understanding of what is going on, you have to remember to go outside your box and not just look at what confirms your bias.
TAKE A STEP BACK
“It’s important to take a step back and immerse yourself in things that make you feel whole,” says Garcia. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all the policies, tweets or protests, but taking a moment for yourself can make all the difference. Whether it be exercising, spending time with family or friends, painting or cozying up in your bed with some good Netflix, spending some time away from the issues and back in your own, comfortable bubble can ground you again.
So, don’t forget to find support and give yourself some love while you’re out there CHANGING THE WORLD.