Self-Care Tips for Student Activists, Advocates, and Allies

Take care of your body

Drink plenty of water, nourish yourself, and aim for enough sleep to feel re-energized (recommended 7-9 hours). Eating balanced meals, having healthy snacks, staying hydrated, and prioritizing rest will help contribute to your overall wellbeing. In addition, movement and exercise can relieve stress, improve memory, help one sleep better, and boost overall mood. Find movement that works best for you. When under so much pressure, it is important to move your body and allow that pressure to escape. Maybe that’s stretching, dancing, hula hooping, running, etc….it is your choice. Prioritizing your health will help you have sustainable energy.

Set clear and unmoving boundaries

Saying “no” is essential. Tell others what you will and will not participate in very clearly and stick with that boundary. Set your phone on silent at certain hours and do not be available all the time. Understand emotional boundaries too-maybe this upcoming event would put too much on your plate, or trigger personal trauma in your life.

Be self-aware of triggering sources and the impact of social media

Give yourself permission to disconnect from sources that are causing you harm, whether that is news, certain media stations, internet sites, etc. Avoid “click-bait” that increases anger or frustration. It is YOUR social media, and you do not have to respond to every internet troll. Set boundaries for whom you follow. Block those causing you harm, and follow those that bring you joy. Be mindful when you are on social media. How do you feel when you are scrolling through your feed? If it is an unwanted feeling, take a break.

Have interests outside of activism

Enjoy hobbies unrelated to your activism work. If you do not have any unrelated hobbies, try new things and look for opportunities to participate in things you would enjoy. It remains important to give yourself permission to step out of the activist role. Spend time with nature, animals, babies, loved ones, supportive communities, or things that give you joy. Be silly and a little less serious at times. Watch a funny show on Netflix. Hang out with people who brighten your day and laugh.

Find your relaxation

Maybe yoga is your thing, maybe not. What matters is finding a way to relax that vibes with you. Try breathing, journaling, meditating...anything to slow down and show your mind and body some peace and love.

Notice and honor emotions

Feelings of isolation, loss, and trauma can arise for student advocates and activists. It is important to acknowledge feelings so that you may heal. If these feelings are not acknowledged, they could develop, grow, and cause you more pain for you. Allow yourself to heal in the ways that you need. Pay tribute to difficult losses in your own way. Maybe this means painting a picture, writing a poem, or making a collage. Not every event feels like a win in the moment, and it can be therapeutic to mourn or grieve a loss in a healthy way.

Celebrate the small successes

Change often takes time and presents itself in ways unseen to the public. Celebrate each victory- whether that is a call to local government or attending a protest. Maybe keep a journal of the successes, including quotes or experiences that built you up or a positive news article about your protest. Remind yourself that you are working to improve the cause. Most movements and big changes are the results of several small successes.

Create time for spiritual connection if that’s important to you

This could mean attending a regular Sunday night yoga class, attending a religious service, or even reflecting on the beauty the world has to offer. Find something meaningful that feels good to your spirit and make it a practice.

Bookend tough days

If you anticipate a difficult activism event, do something for self-care both before and after the event so that you are supported and brought out of your activism role. Find someone to be with you after a hard day. You must be a person before an activist and you cannot help others if you are burnt-out.

Ensure you have support

It is so valuable to feel connected with others and supported emotionally. Seek out communities, groups, and personal relationships where you feel valued, appreciated, supported, and empowered. Recognize how important it is to share your feelings and be your authentic self. Counseling services may be really beneficial in supporting and empowering you to meet your goals. Visit CAPS to find additional information for counseling services at U-M.
  • Virtual Resources To Check Out
  • Self-Care Quotes
    • “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”-Audre Lorde
    • “In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” –Dalai Lama

Special thanks to Jessica Banes, MA, LPC from OSU who shared this packet.