Being an optimist, I had big plans for last week. (Let’s be honest, I have big plans every week.) But instead of waking up with energy each morning, I felt the overwhelm. Heavy, dark and frustrating.
So last week, being an everyday activist meant taking time for a little self-care.
Here’s what I learned :
- It’s okay to turn off the news. Yep. Just turn it off. When you find your chest getting tight as soon as you turn on the radio, open the paper, or start scrolling down Facebook, just give it a break. (Guess what: you even have permission to uninstall social media apps and news notifications from your phone! It doesn’t implode, I promise.)
- Turn it back on, but on your own terms. Turning off the steady stream of news allows you to take stock of when and how to best get your information. For me, that has meant following a select number of news sources: my local paper, the Sierra Club, a few well-researched, action-oriented subscriptions that come to my email, and NPR (when I’m feeling strong!). I allow myself a small window of time each day at noon or in the evening to dive into the daily news, but I work hard to make sure there’s a time limit, or an activity that will cut me off so I don’t get sucked in and overwhelmed. When I can, I get my news with a pen in hand.
- I feel best when I can turn my frustration into action. Whether it’s making a phone call, writing a postcard, attending or organizing an event, or simply getting together with a trusted friend, taking action gives me hope. It’s like a muscle I had never used before; now, giving it practice, it’s getting much easier. As I get familiar with the process, contacting my representatives and finding others in the community who are also interested in taking action on environmental issues is much less intimidating.
- It is okay to say “I’m tired,” and give it a rest. Prioritizing sleep really does make a difference in my mental state. So does saying “no” to good things in order to guard family time, or time to exercise, or time to get outdoors and recharge. Resting is an important piece of being active.
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