For many of those who have made it their life’s purpose and work purpose to care for others, caring for themselves is forgotten, considered selfish, or something they are made to feel guilty for – and that is why, taking time out for themselves is radical.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” (American writer and feminist Audre Lorde)
What is self-care?
At its simplest, self-care is understood as looking after oneself and doing things of positive value for oneself. This implies making an effort and taking time out from other activities and concerns. Self-care assumes that the self is important and looking after that self is at least as important as looking after anybody else, or addressing concerns outside of oneself.
Self-care these days has come to imply ideas like pampering, spa, shopping, and so on. While there is nothing wrong in any of these being self-care methods, we want to emphasise that self-care is much more than these.
Self-care is a feminist and human rights issue, because for those who do people work, self-care comes low in their list of priorities, if at all. They handle intimate, pressing and difficult issues of community members. Considering self-care a luxury, they are vulnerable to burnout and its damaging impact. Attrition caused by burnout also affects the movements they are a part of, especially those in resource-poor settings that can scarcely afford to lose dedicated members, activists and staff.
Self-care and burnout prevention are key to activists’ wellbeing and to sustaining & strengthening the movement. As activist Jessica Horn says, “We need to defend defenders.” (AWID Friday File, June 10, 2015).
In this section, you will find resources, primarily worksheets that are simple “exercises” of different kinds. Some help you identify things that give you joy. A few are to help you understand your emotions, reactions and responses. Some others will help you reflect on your journey so far so you can think of where you want to go.
Though we have put them together under self-care, they can be practiced in collective spaces too.
We also have many ideas for how you can develop, strengthen, or diversify your self-care practices.