Self-care: a self-initiated, deliberate act to establish and maintain physical, mental and emotional health.
Even if you are not facing physical violence, the effects of incidents such as online harassment, privacy violations and SMS abuse can cause real harm and take a lot out of you. You may find that you feel lonely, drained or depressed. This is also true for people working with survivors or moderating content.
One of the best strategies for dealing with violence is to make self-care a priority. Violence aims to undermine your confidence, your sense of well-being and your ability to be an active, engaged member of society. By taking care of yourself, you are using a critical form of resistance, regaining control of your life and beginning the healing process. Moreover, because women have been conditioned from a young age to care for others, self-care itself is a feminist act.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
-- Audre Lorde
Each person's self-care process is unique. Below are some ideas to get you started in developing your own plan. It may be helpful to start with a couple of ideas and build on them over time. Above all, be kind to yourself.
Nutrition: This may seem simple, but eating properly is an important part of making sure you have enough energy to deal with the situation. Be sure you are eating enough throughout the day. Focus on healthy foods that make you feel good and stay hydrated. Treat yourself to something special.
Exercise: Get outside and go for a walk, hike, run or bike ride. Continue your usual workout plan, as exercise can ease depression and anxiety. Try meditation, yoga and focusing on your breathing.
Sleep: Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night in order to recharge. Turn off devices at least an hour before bed and try meditation, breathing techniques, journaling or a soothing story to help you fall asleep.
Time off: Take a mental health day off work. Take a break from the devices and digital communities where you have experienced violence. Get your chores done if it makes you feel better or throw out the to-do list. Sit in the sun, gaze at the moon.
Stress relief: Watch your favourite movies, take baths with relaxing essential oils, make a mug of calming herbal tea, get a massage, let yourself cry, start a journal, write poetry, get out your paintbrushes, play your guitar, turn up the music and have a private dance party, knit yourself some cozy socks, dig in the soil and plant flowers.
Pick-me-up: Hug your loved ones. Play with animals. Bookmark sites that make you feel happy and comforted so you can click over to them whenever you need relief. Send your favourites to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll share them.
Social support: Reach out to friends and family and find someone you can call or visit whenever you need them. Manage relationships so that you balance private time and social time and do not feel pressured to be around acquaintances or negative people. Find online communities that understand what you're going through.
Professional care: It's important to recognise when you need to see a doctor, therapist or natural healer. You might also consider finding a support group for women facing violence.
Self Care is Radical (#femfuture)
Wellness, Self-Care And Security – Why This Is Important To Feminism (AWID)
Methods of Self-Care (Babe Vibes)
Self-Care And Self-Defense Manual For Feminist Activists (CREA)
Promoting self care and well-being among feminist activists and women's rights defenders: Reflections from Burma and Palestine (Upaya Zen Center)
Self-Care for Friends and Family Members (RAINN)
Gender Based Violence Training Manual, Section 5 (Restless Development)
Surviving after abuse: Looking after yourself and moving on (Women's Aid)