By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., SDL (He/Him)

There has been a lot, and I mean A LOT of things happening in our political landscape lately. It is encouraging to see so many people speaking out for their rights and freedoms, especially as these very rights and freedoms are under threat from religious conservatives who are nostalgic about a bygone era that never truly exist.

We are all passionate about changing the world for the better in the best way we know how! Fighting for your cause is one of the most important things you can do, it is important to be passionate about it and give it your all to enact positive change on our society. Yet we can find ourselves so involved with our cause that it’s easy to forget about the most important thing in our world, ourselves.

Activism is stressful work, no doubt. It can take a serious toll on the mind and the body. If we are to truly have an impact on the world around us, it is most important that we are the most healthy and capable that we can be to take on the challenges and stress that come with activism. Here are a few ideas to help you be as ready as you can be to take on the world!

  • Maintain a Regular and Consistent Exercise Routine
    • Protest rallies and marches require a lot of time on your feet, holding up signs, marching for long distance and many can last for hours if not days. Regular exercise and training can help you build the endurance and stamina to march and rally your heart out without getting exhausted and sore.
    • With all the emotion and passion that comes with activism, taking the time away to exercise can help you relieve the stress and release those emotions in a healthy and productive manner.
  • Drink Water!
    • Spending hours on your feet, marching, shouting and talking, often in the hot sun. Dehydration is common and can lead to heat exhaustion and potential heat stroke. Keep water with you in a camelback or bottle to stay hydrated throughout your rally. It will keep you hydrated, safe and going.
  • Practice Mindfulness
    • Mindfulness is defined as “the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment.”
    • Using meditation techniques, one can practice and learn mindfulness and apply it both outside of activism as well as during activism. Having a clear head and focused on the moment can help you better stay in the zone and not to let the emotion and passion of the event overwhelm you.
    • Once the event is over, leave the passion and emotion for it there. Don’t take it with you. Take the time to focus on other interests in your life and focus on your task at hand. The activism will always be ready for you when you return, but taking the passion and emotion of it wherever you go will bleed into other areas of your life. It could affect everything from friendships, work, hobbies, and even other goals. It’s great to have a passion and cause, but don’t let it bring you down. Like Elsa sung… “Let it go!”
  • Breathe
    • Take the time to practice long, deep breathing. Not only is it a form of meditation that can help you practice mindfulness but it also is an easy way to release tension and stress.
    • When you find yourself feeling tense, anxious, stressed or any other emotion. Take a few big, deep breathes in and out. Recognize your current state of emotion and take a step back. A good technique is to inhale through your nose for 5 counts, hold it for 1-2 counts and then exhale for 8 counts through your mouth. Repeat this 4-5 times.
  • Let it Go
    • Outside of activism, pursue other interests and things in your life. Leave the passion and emotion you have at the march, rally or protest. When you are there, give it all you got and when it’s over, leave it there. Your other interests and passions are just as important, so take the time to develop those as well and separate yourself from your cause until it is time to give it your all again.
    • Don’t read into comment threads on the internet. As someone once said “Arguing on the internet is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good you are, its just going to knock over the pieces, shit on the board and strut around like it won.” As much as we might hope so, we are likely not going to change anybody’s mind trying to argue on social media. So don’t even try, instead channel your passion and effort into your causes and outlets where you can make a difference. Getting caught up in arguments only causes stress and anger but doesn’t accomplish anything productive.
  • Stay Positive
    • Activism can be quite stressful. There’s a lot of shit happening in the world and it’s easy to get discouraged. Remind yourself “Why”. Why is this cause so important to you? You don’t need to take on every cause in the world, just the one that is important to you.
    • Always find an opportunity to grow and learn. We all face setbacks and defeats, but does that mean we should give up? No, it just means we are primed for an even better come back.
    • Remember there is always something positive out of every circumstance, no matter how dire. Pandora’s box contained all the horrors and darkness in the world but remember what was hidden at the bottom? Hope!
  • Go For a Walk
    • If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or stressed out. Put a pause on everything your doing and take a walk. Even 15-20 minutes can help you release and disconnect so you can reset yourself and be ready to take on the next challenge. It’s easier to face a challenge when you have a clear head.

Activism is how we change the world, so to be the best activists we can be it is important that we practice techniques to help us maintain our health and enthusiasm. The world seems to be growing quite harsh, but maintaining a positive attitude and building our own self-confidence can not only help us become better activists but allow our activism to have an even bigger impact.

Photo Credit: Mobilus In Mobili via Flickr