I think the answer has to do with finally cracking a self-care routine that really works for me. Siobhan wrote eloquently and brilliantly last week on why self-care can be a problematic term and I very much suggest you read it, but I'm about to completely ignore her very valid argument that "self-care articles are [not] the way forward" and write one of my own.
I am very privileged - I hold a UK passport and am white, cisgender, and middle class, all of which means I am able to sometimes close the door and take a break from the noise of the world. It's important to recognise that this is not a privilege that everyone in this country - let alone the world - has. My self-care routines aren't about ignoring what's happening, they're about taking time to regroup and recharge so I'm better able to be useful in what has become a fight against fascism.
I'm accepting my limits with regard to activism and advocacy, while recognising what I can do
I spent a lot of 2016 beating myself up about the fact that my anxiety prevents me from going to protests and marches. I find large groups challenging in so many ways, from social anxiety to crowd-related panic attacks to IBS anxiety about not always having a loo accessible, and I saw this as a failing on my part, rather than looking at what else I could do. I wrote at the start of the year about not wanting to use my mental & physical health as an excuse to not take action, but I'm learning that it's important to recognise that there are many and varied ways of carrying out activism and resistance.
Thomas has encouraged me to view my writing as a valid form of activism, and one I can engage in from home even when my health is bad. Instead of marching, I'm writing regularly to my MP (which Write To Them makes incredibly easy). I'm putting my money where my mouth is on local, national and international levels. I've set up a direct debit to Leicester Rape Crisis, donated to the UK Black Lives Matter justice fund, Planned Parenthood and, after this weekend's events, to the ACLU as they seek to challenge the Muslim Ban in court.
Think about what actions you can take within your own limits - but also don't be afraid to sometimes push those limits. I know that a large protest in London is not achievable for me, but I joined a smaller local demo last night and although it was outside my comfort zone, I'm very glad I went. Being with others who feel the same anger, who also want change, is also a form of self-care.
I am staying off social media
I'm a social media addict and can happily spend an evening whiling away time on Twitter and Facebook, without achieving anything concrete. But I realised after Brexit that Twitter was having a detrimental affect on my mood; I could feel my anxiety and unhappiness kicking into higher gear as soon as I opened the app. And no wonder! At the moment it's an endless scroll of misery, brutality and fascism. So I deleted the app. I'm still reading the news, keeping abreast of what's happening, and taking actions where I can. But only visiting Twitter once a day has made an enormous difference to my mood.
Take time to consider your social media use and ask: is it telling me something new or does it make me happy? If the answer to both is "no" then switch off. It's ok to acknowledge that you have limits; it's ok to prioritise your health.
I am making & doing
In the run-up to Christmas I started sewing a lot and noticed an immediate upswing in my mood. And now that the festive season has passed I'm in full-on zine mode. Since the start of January I've finished one and started on my second, and seeing something tangible come out of my scribbling is hugely rewarding.
Make time each week for creative pursuits. This could be anything: baking, gardening, drawing, knitting, colouring... whatever you find most enjoyable. Spending time on an activity that requires both concentration and calm is a quick route to zen-like relaxation
I am embracing hygge
Yup, that word I'm afraid, but never fear - I'm not about to tell you to buy expensive new throws or designer Scandi candlesticks. What I am doing is making duvet forts on the sofa, lighting the fire, turning off my phone, and drinking lots of tea. Not exactly revolutionary, I know, but I'm trying to recognise this for what it is - essential self-care and something to be enjoyed mindfully - rather than beating myself up about not being more productive. Some days just call for fresh pyjamas, a 99p bunch of daffodils, and a good book, and that's ok.