5 Self-care tips for people who do abortion access work
Don't forget to look after yourself too
You don't have to do activist work for a living to know that there's a certain glamorization of overworking (thanks, capitalism). The idea that the more we do, the more we work, the better we are, the more we care, is incredibly poisonous to our mental and physical health, and we simply can't sustain it. Self-care isn't a fad, it's an essential practice we need to attend to in order to continue the work we do. So here are 5 tips for taking care of yourself while staying in the fight for abortion access.
Recognize that self-care is vital, and you need it.
It's too easy to think that you don't do "enough" to merit taking a break, and this is untrue. Any kind of work requires rest from it, and spending time inside the world of abortion access and the forces that work against it is exhausting. And we do this because we know it's important, and we want to continue. So, yes, you work hard "enough" to take a break, and that break is essential, not debatable.
Set yourself some boundaries.
Boundaries are difficult to set, and even more difficult to enforce. If you were socialized as a woman, you're probably familiar with the notion that not having boundaries, being willing to do anything for anyone at any time, giving people unfettered access to your energy, is for some reason considered good. (This is one reason why it's so unfathomable that one who can get pregnant would choose not to stay pregnant; misogyny tells us that people with uteruses are people who serve without question.) Decide what your boundaries look like, and don't be afraid to start small: you'll create some set times to check email and not deviate from them. And remember to be kind to yourself, no matter what.
Turn off the news.
This is a difficult one. COVID has created (or amplified) a feeling within some of us that if we turn off the news, something horrible will happen, the 24 hour news cycle doesn't help to alleviate the fear. And then there's Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and TikTok, etc. Find one way to check out of the news for some period of time every week (even an hour will make a difference). It will still be there when you get back, for better or for worse.
Celebrate every win.
We often have to peer into dark corners and squint to see the good things, but if we don't, we'll stay mired in the awful, and that's not okay. There are good things happening -- more people now know about abortion pills, abortion funds are getting more attention, states are signing abortion access into law. Challenge yourself to find 3 good things every day, write them down, and keep the notes where you can see them. After a few weeks, try to come up with more than 3. They don't have to be about work, they can be anything. The more you practice finding beautiful things, the more accustomed you'll get to seeing them.
Pay attention to your body.
Right now, stop reading and stand up. Walk across the room. Stretch. (Yes, even if you already did it today.) Drink some water. Drink more water. Eat something. Eat something else. At no point should you consider food or water or movement or joy a thing you need to earn. Listen to your body and hear when it tells you it needs something. Give it what it's asking for. And don't do it because drinking water will keep you from getting dehydrated, which will keep you from working. Do it because you are a person who deserves to feel good, regardless of everything else.