I don't know about you guys, but the recent events in the world have my heart feeling drained. It takes a lot of effort to care and advocate for different causes, especially when there are so many opposing views shared on social media and in real life all the time. It's difficult not to feel a mixture of angry and sad and hopeless and passionate all at once, all the time.
I'm very passionate when it comes to certain issues; it's just a big part of my personality. (I even took a Christian spiritual gifts test recently and got "social activism" as my top score. I REALLY care about causes!) However, caring deeply about bringing positive change has its pitfalls, and to be truly effective at social activism and creating this change, I have to be intentional in caring for myself and my heart along the way if I don't want to burn out.
Here are the ways I help myself keep perspective and stay strong in difficult times like these:
I take significant breaks from social media.
I think you all understand why! Taking long periods of time away from social media, especially if I'm feeling really amped or angry about something, prevents me from unwisely spouting off in statuses or from feeding my anger even further by reading other people's lunacy. I'd include watching or reading news sources in this as well.
I spend time feeding my soul with positive things.
We're surrounded by negative, heart-wrenching information all around us. I feel like every time I read or see something sad or mean, it "withdraws" from my emotional bank account. If all I do is drain my emotional bank account with negativity or sadness, I will soon run dry with nothing to offer anyone else. To keep this from happening, I "deposit" into my bank account with positive sources. For me, the Bible is a big positive source. It's substantial and encouraging for me. Another way I feed my soul is by taking time to do something I love, like going to an art museum or reading a fun book.
I take some time to be silent.
Some days it seems all I do is defend myself, my opinions, and my causes and end up feeling misunderstood or judged. On those days, I take time to be silent and avoid talking for a while. Sometimes just being alone and cutting out criticisms from other people helps me sort out my own thoughts and work through my feelings. I spend time in a peaceful environment. I especially love putting on some classical or jazz music and sewing silently for a while. I like having time to chill and relax my defenses, just do something that feels really me without any judgment, usually accompanied by a comforting hot beverage.
I know not all of you are religious or Christians, but I wanted to include this part because it's probably the most effective thing I do to give my heart a break and rejuvenate. Prayer isn't the same as meditating or venting or channeling positive vibes; it's conversing with God. I know that I can go and spill my heart to God with raw honesty, and he will 100% guaranteed still love me at the end of it. He understands the things in my heart that I can't properly put into words. He's been with me through every experience in my life, so he knows exactly where I'm coming from and what I mean. There is no safer place to be myself than with God. In these times where I talk with him, things happen. My heart is put at ease. I know God is working behind the scenes on the situations that worry me. He speaks back to me, often through certain Bible verses or in speaking to my heart in ways that are difficult to explain. He shows me where my thinking should change, where I need to forgive someone, or something I shouldn't do anymore. He shapes me into a stronger, better person, not through judgment and condemnation, but through gentleness and loving-kindness.
I put things into perspective.
Sometimes I feel the pressing, heavy weight of the world's problems on my shoulders, and I feel overwhelmed by them. There are so many issues, so many causes that vie for my attention, so many injustices that need to be addressed. I feel almost immobilized by the immensity of wrong and evil in the world. At this point, I remind myself to put things into perspective. While I am able to bring about change, I am not the person that holds everything in the world together, that will solve all wrongs. While my actions are important, I am not able to be the fixer of all problems. I can only do what one person can do. Beyond that, I am not responsible. When I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way, embrace the impact of my personal voice, and do the things I am able to do within my sphere of influence, I am doing my part, and it is enough. No one can ask me to do things I am not able to do (except God, but he's always good enough to equip me for those impossible things). While we are important and should do what we can, we are not the saviors of the world.
Once again, this is where my Christianity plays into my worldview. At this point, I can hand this burden over to Jesus. He literally is the savior of the world, and the Bible promises that when the time is right, he will right all wrongs and bring complete peace and justice. I'm pretty excited for that, I won't lie.
The consistency of this comes and goes at this point in my life, but on days where I am very emotional or even very angry, I do something to break a sweat. Even when I cannot and should not punch someone's face when I'm angry, I can pop in a fitness DVD and air punch my way toward better health! Exercise is proven to make us happier and sleep better, and it can help us focus on the present instead of worrying or stressing about other things in life. Seriously, even if you're not a gym junkie, go for a walk or pop in an exercise video when you're feeling particularly down, overwhelmed, or upset. (I'm also a fan a of embracing my whiteness and breaking some very impressive dance moves during a "Just Dance" game!) It will do wonders for your mental state as well as helping with your physical health.
So I know that not all of you will identify with everything I said, but, hey, feel free to try any of them and see how they work for you. We all need to take "heart breaks" to restore and refresh ourselves, especially in the midst of such a crazy time in our world.
What other things do you do to take a heart break? Are there other self-care strategies you have that work well for you?
Thanks to my sister for letting me use her IG picture at the top!