Sunday, February 19, 2017

Care and Feeding of an Activist Soul #bethechange #LGBTQ

In this final installment of the activism series, we'll talk about keeping your head in a world that's gone crazy.

It's no secret that fighting for change is a tough job.

Real activism goes beyond signing online petitions and sharing stories on Facebook. It's an arduous battle against ignorance and stagnation that can take decades to win. For some issues, a lifetime. That's a long time to stay plugged in, monitoring emails and headlines, attending non-profit meetings and conferences, looking for new ways to get the attention of an often apathetic public.

It's no wonder depression and burnout are so common in the activist community!

If you're new to activism (or even if you aren't) here are three simple tips for managing the frustration, depression, and anger that often come with the job.

Cardio is your friend. I can testify that a good workout is a great way to manage stress and burn off frustration. My daily cardio habit plays a huge role in maintaining my sanity. Without it, all the emotion gets tangled up inside and my temper redlines. (It's not great for my blood pressure either!) Walk, bike, run, kickbox, or bounce around the house to your favorite songs. Whatever gets your blood moving!

Stockpile happiness. For me, this goes hand-in-hand with cardio. I have a playlist of happy songs and fight songs that I listen to every day, brightening my mood while I'm burning off negativity. It's a chance to readjust my perspective and remember why I'm fighting.

When that isn't enough, I have a backup playlist of funny videos on YouTube, things guaranteed to make me smile if not outright laugh.

Self-care is as important as fighting for the cause. Without it, you won't last long before burnout or depression cripples you. Find things that make you happy and regularly inject them into your schedule. 

Take breaks. Equality is a lengthy battle. It always has been. Even before POTUS, the numbers were bad. 90% of LGBTQ kids report being bullied and harassed at school. The percentage of LGBTQs among the population of homeless youth is now up to 40%, twice what it was just a few years ago. We have a tremendous amount of work to do so pace yourself! 

When you start to get that hopeless, frustrated sensation that says you're about to smack face first into burnout, take a break. Give yourself a vacation from headlines, meetings, and social media and focus on something else. Hang out with your squad. Freebase things on Netflix. Lie in the sun and read a book. Whatever makes you happy and come back to the front lines recharged and ready to go. 

Take care of yourself, stay strong, and I'll see you in the trenches!

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