A friend of mine recently celebrated her 30th birthday. She asked her party guests to give her their words of wisdom for making the most of her 30’s. I recommended that she schedule frequent hot dates with herself, and I gave her some bubble bath and cheap wine to get her started in the right direction. After I gave her this gift, I had to ask myself why I’m not following my own advice.
I think this is a quandry that many of us can relate to. As activists, we’re so busy taking care of other people that it’s often hard to find time to take care of ourselves.
One of my mentors gave me some good advice when I graduated from college. “Take care of yourself,” she said, “or you will burn out and you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.” I followed her advice by treating myself to expensive haircuts, cheap pedicures, and frequent sushi dinners. My budget ain’t what it used to be – so these days my version of treating myself involves a six-pack of cheap beer and a Netflix marathon.
I know I’m not the only one who struggles with self care. If you work at a clinic or an abortion fund, how do you decompress at the end of a shift? Do you have a hard time disconnecting from other people’s emotional baggage like I do, or have you developed a successful strategy for being compassionate and still taking care of your own emotional well being?
On the same note, for those of us with anti-choice family members, how do you handle family gatherings? I have typically tried to avoid discussing health care or politics. But that strategy crapped out on me over the holidays when my mom started asking me why I don’t support adoption over abortion. I walked away from a fight and took a shower to calm down. However, I can’t do that with every confrontation. I’d love to find a few strategies for dealing with anti-choice family confrontations.
How you practice self-care?