Radical Self-Care

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

–Audre Lorde

The struggle for equality, women’s reproductive rights, and feminism can take a toll. And with the recent attacks on women’s health, reproductive rights, and the use of disturbing rhetoric about rape and sexual assault survivors, it’s easy not to feel like throwing your hands in the air and crawling under the nearest rock.

However, one possible solution to help keep this frustration under control and focusing on the work to be done is self-care.

  Self-care – ability to engage in human rights work without sacrificing other important parts of one life. The ability to maintain a positive attitude towards the work despite challenges.  Self-care can also be understood as a practitioner’s right to be well, safe, and fulfilled.

  Burn-out – a state of emotional and often physical exhaustion; often resembles acute stress disorder, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Burn-out does not refer to spending too much time on a task, but rather to an activist’s stress response stemming from the perception that the energy they have invested into a task has yielded insufficient returns. Although popular understanding of activism dictate a self-less image, it is vital for activists and their work to avoid burn-out.

–Self-Care for Activists: Sustaining Your Most Valuable Resource

In the struggle for equality and a fairer world, it is often easy to fall into a trap of hopelessness, defeat, and burn out when we don’t immediately receive the results we expected (or when policies, individuals, and movements try to revert back to less progressive times). And, if you find yourself working directly with those individuals who have been directly impacted by systems of inequality, vicarious trauma can also become an issue.

So what can you do about it?



Understand that you are at risk for developing symptoms.

Be in tune to your needs, limits, emotions, and resources.

Practice mindfulness and acceptance.


Strive for balance in all aspects of your life. WORK, PLAY, and REST!


Connect to yourself, to others, and to something greater.

Communicate as a way to connect and break the silence of pain or anything that may be troubling you.

Furthermore, one can apply self-care principles as both an individual and as part of a collective or social movement.

What can an individual do?

What can an organization do to provide self-care?

–Self-Care for Activists: Sustaining Your Most Valuable Resource

Online Resources


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