Self care. It’s a phrase that’s all the rage these days, but did you know that the concept has its roots in the social justice movement? It’s true! Long before it was adopted (and diluted) by lifestyle branding as the latest trend in “indulgence”, self care was a very real program practiced by activists. It is, in fact, an integral part of any successful warrior’s tool kit.
We cannot fight if we are not strong. We cannot fight if we are not strong. And in this incredibly difficult period, when all of us good people are challenged and demoralized again and again, day after day, self care is an essential exercise for staying strong. We must not get numb. We must not wear down. We must not normalize!
So — we must take good care of ourselves. And the internet is overrun with articles all about self care. “Eat right, get enough sleep, curl up with a cup of tea and a great novel,” is what most of them will tell you. Excellent advice indeed, but probably things you’re all doing already (or know you should be). So, here are some of my more . . . non-traditional . . . suggestions.
On the very first morning after the election, I couldn’t bear to get out of bed. I was such a mess. And I was Facebook chatting with my friend Somer from The Abundance Diet, sort of commiserating back and forth in grief and disbelief, when she mentioned that dog snuggles were the only thing getting her through the day.
And I had this instant feeling of “OH MY GOD I NEED A DOG, STAT.” It’s hard to describe, I just — I knew I needed dog energy. You know what I mean? That calm, steadfast, unconditional kind of energy?
So I posted a status update on Facebook, basically asking if any of my dog owning friends would be so kind as to let me kidnap their pooch for an afternoon walk. And I was flooded with responses! Waits and I had a really marvelous afternoon walk with old Blue up there, and it was just exactly what I needed.
Science has shown that petting a dog actually changes your brain chemistry and improves your mood. And science has also shown that getting outside and walking in the fresh air causes physiological, mood boosting biochemical changes as well. So this strategy puts those two things together for a super duper mega dose of LOVE!
Go find a dog. Give it a walk. It’s guaranteed to brighten your day.
2) Go To A Drag Show.
That’s right, I’m prescribing drag. Or at least, a raunchy, rebellious, irreverent art form of your choosing. Go see a body-positive cabaret, or a queer choir, or your local community theatre’s showing of The Vagina Monologues, or the traveling Sex Workers Art Show. Catch The Wet Spots on their next tour. Or, go watch some badass babes duke it out at the roller derby.
Basically, seek out performance art that’s subversive. Art that flips gender roles and body “goals” and social expectations of sexuality, femininity, and decorum. That flips them on their goddamn heads! Seek out these spaces and support the arts. I promise that you will find solidarity, strength through connection, and a really raucous good time.
3) Hang Out At The Humane Society.
Animals make everything better, and hanging out with animals that really need your love and attention is great soul medicine. At the Human Society (or local no-kill shelter, or farm animal sanctuary, etc) you’ll find animals in need of feeding, walking, snuggling, and more. Waits and I visit the Humane Society at least a few times a month. I love the kitties and the pooches, but he is completely obsessed with the bunnies! It’s pretty adorable.
Spending time with animals has a psychological and psychophysiological effect on our nervous system. And when we feel that we are acting in service of animals, this effect is amplified. So, go and do a good deed for a guinea pig, and let the oxytocin flow!
4) Listen To 1960s Protest Music. Or Better Yet, Make It!
Lots of self care lists recommend listening to music that moves you, but I am specifically suggesting the folk/protest music of the 1960s. That shit is LIT UP, and it’s incredibly relevant to what we’re facing today. I made myself an epic Spotify play list full of Simon & Garfunkel, Peter Paul & Mary, America, Cat Stevens, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, etc. I listen to it all the time these days, and it fills me with whimsy, nostalgia, passion, hope, and a deep connection to my fellow warriors of the past, who fought so hard so that I may be here, fighting hard today. Powerful music.
And if by chance you are lucky enough to know some musicians, I strongly urge you to organize a singalong! We’ve had a few so far – one very impromptu one on the steps of the county courthouse on the night after the election, and one at our Wine Bar (pictured above) the week after. Both times, we put out a call for anyone who wanted to show up — with an instrument, or just their voice — to join us in solidarity and song. And it was a deeply moving experience, both times.
Singing peace songs with strangers. I can’t recommend it enough.
5) Get To The Tippy Top Of A Mountain.
Nature is magic, we all know that. Any time you can get yourself outdoors, into nature, into the fresh air, into the wild — it’s time well spent. But again, here I am specifically recommending *elevation*.
The world looks so very different from way up high (I’ve written about this trick before), and sometimes a real, physical change in viewpoint is all it takes to reset your perspective.
Plus, a good Adventure Day always does the body/psyche good. So have at it, my kindred wild-hearted spirited souls. Go adventuring.
And always remember — we’re in this together. #IHaveYourBack