Practices for Radical Self-Care in a New Era of Necessary Radical Change

Welcome to the Radical Self-Care for Radical Action blog series. This series serves as a multigenre and strategic compilation of ways to avoid or heal activist burnout. During this new era, we need to keep activism and social justice efforts continuous and sustainable; we cannot afford burnout. While burnout and activism have had close relationships to one another, so have healing practices and social change methodologies. Every week, both leading up to and following the inauguration of a president that has Cortisol levels running high for many, expect a post on what it means to heal oneself in order to heal a country. From neuroscience to yoga to meditation to cardiology, learn how to systematically refuel in these trying times.


  1. Balance activism with self-care. For every piece of activism you do, make sure to pair it with a piece of self-care. For example, if you spend all day at a march, end the day by lighting a candle. When we’re around a lot of people, we’re around a lot of energy. It is helpful to have a ritual associated with returning to the self at the end of a long day and letting whatever happened go so that we can start fresh tomorrow.
  2. Find a self-care go-to. Mine is yoga. Yours might be meditation, or cooking, or reading. While it’s healthy to mix up forms of self-care, make sure that you have one form in your back pocket that you know always works.
  3. Create a mini-practice. Let’s face it; sometimes we don’t have time for a full yoga class or 20-minute meditation. What is something that you can do to condense it?
  4. Plan + Schedule. Make sure that you have a plan for implementing all of the above. What will you do to make sure that you are practicing self-care in a way that serves others? Then, put it in writing.
  5. Include others. This is a micro form of activism. Encouraging others to practice self-care through making plans with them will amplify your own accountability to your self-care, and it will also encourage others to have a more sustainable activism practice.
  6. Pair self-care with activism with others. This is a combination of steps 1 and 5, but make activism dates with friends: a phone bank followed by a yoga class, or attending a rally followed by nice meal that encourages decompression.
  7. Practice Metta meditation. Metta – lovingkindness – meditation – is a form of meditation that encourages the development of lovingkindness, beginning with ourselves, and extending it out to those we resent. Perfect for this political season!
  8. Drink Water. Drinking water is an excellent way to regulate many other aspects of health. Also, the amount of water we drink is a good barometer of how often we stop and think about how our bodies are doing during the day.
  9. Connect. Connection is vital, now more than ever. Make time – schedule it in if you have to! – to connect with the people that refill you. Start a book club centered around radical and consciousness-raising literature. Host a dinner party with people that inspire you to keep doing the work that you do, and who you inspire as well. Make time to have meaningful conversations. There are many ways to connect. Frequency counts. As Mary Pipher wrote in Writing to Change the World, “true change only occurs in the context of relationships.”
  10. Set intentions. I used to keep an intentions notebook, where I could ask myself daily the words of Elizabeth Gilbert: Who do I want to be in this situation? It’s time to ask myself that question again…every day, in every circumstance. Who do we, as part of a necessary Resistance, want to be in the various situations we will find ourselves in over the next four years?

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