“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” –Audre Lorde
Self-care is hard, but it is especially necessary for those of us engaged in activism. It is easy to become so engrossed with activism (which, as you know, focuses on organizing and combating oppression) that self-care falls by the wayside. Participating in self-care, in fact, is a revolutionary act, and it should be equally ingrained in activism work. Out of selflessness, however, activists often put greater needs above our own.
Activist bae to the rescue! An activist bae is a love interest who also engages in activist work, usually around the same issues as you. Why would you want an activist bae? Because, duh. When your time is consumed by organizing work, it’s clear you only have space in your love life for someone who does the same. An awesome part of being in an activist bae-ship is encouraging each other to engage in self-care. As a support system, activist baes often create safe spaces for each other that center around physical, mental, and spiritual health.
If you are lucky to be in an activist bae-ship, this list of suggested self-care tips is for you. (If you don’t have an activist bae, don’t let that stop you from self-care. Sometimes a girl just has to be her own activist bae.)
Encourage your bae to write. Write anything. Articulating thoughts in print can be therapeutic, as activists attempt to grapple with the painful realities of society. There is power in controlling your own narrative, especially in a world that continuously misrepresents marginalized identities.
If you live in a state that has legalized recreational marijuana, you and your activist bae can release some stress by rolling up and discussing why the moon looks close enough to touch, but it isn’t. This is also an awesome chance to bake some treats with activist bae, which you will be super thankful for later.
Maybe you and activist bae prefer to indulge in some liquid courage in your downtime. Whether heading out or spending the night in, you can’t go wrong with a few drinks and good conversation. After all, it is a crime to watch any Shonda Rhimes series without a glass of wine. With all of your favorite shows coming to a close for the season, what will you do?
Get drunk and watch Drunk History on Hulu+, of course. You’re welcome.
Speaking of streaming, indulging in Netflix can be great pastime when escaping the world’s troubles. Depending on what kind of activist your bae is, they may want to watch stimulating documentaries exploring science or sociology. They may also want to watch shows that serve as allegories for radicalism and challenging power structures, such as the new Netflix series Daredevil. Maybe activist bae simply wants to watch some old faves such as A Different World or The Office and shed tears of laughter all over again. However, do not be surprised if your “old faves” now seem problematic, given your new lens for understanding media representations—it happens.
5. Social Media Blackout
Consider practicing social media blackouts when spending time with activist bae. Unplugging from the constant whirlwind of trauma and trolling on social media allows you to refocus your energies on your self-care regimen. Being constantly confronted with the graphic videos of brutal beatings and senseless murders that float across your timelines can be excruciating; it is important to take some time to recharge.
The idiot writing offensive statements in response to your Facebook status will still be there tomorrow. After all, idiots gonna idiot. You might even decide, after some thought, that it’s best for your own self-care not to engage someone who’s willfully ignorant. Besides, I doubt activist bae wants to spend quality time while you are arguing with some bald-eagle Twitter avi, run by someone who gets their jollies from pissing you off.
6. Twerk Session
Sometimes you feel so fed up with the pain and struggle of liberation work that you have to twerk your troubles away. Whether you want to twerk it for activist bae or bae wants to twerk it for you, it’s a win-win situation. You should create a playlist fit for such an occasion including, "Back That Azz Up", by Juvenile, obviously. Simply cue the twerk playlist, hear the 808s knock, and let your ass do the clapping.
WARNING: Do not engage in twerking if you do not have the skills to be successful at it—like rhythm. Do the Cupid Shuffle instead.
7. Work Out
I could write an entire litany of suggested physical activities that will help you and activist bae to stay in fighting shape, but we all know—I just want to write about sex.
If the two of you are already lovers, don’t forget to nurture your physical connection and keep things fresh. The physical wear from protesting and late night organizing meetings may put your frisky activities on the backburner. If sex is an important component of your relationship, vocalizing it as a priority—in an honest dialogue—may be necessary.
Plus, if you’ve already decided to use suggestion #4, getting into some naked cardio should be a natural transition.
Go forth and be creative in your self-care activities!