How to Balance Social Justice & Self-care

How to Balance Social Justice & Self-care

We know times are tough - and that every news story seems to be unveiling a new crisis or cause for outrage. So how do we fight for a more peaceful and considerate future without running out of steam? 

For anyone wanting to make a difference - big or small - it’s all about balance. Using your voice to stand up for what you believe in, while still practising self-care so you can sustain yourself in the long run. Here’s a few ways we’re striking a balance between both ends of the spectrum… 


Giving and receiving

We all know that we each have a finite amount of energy to offer. So when you spend all your time giving - whether it’s attention, resources, or money - and no time receiving, you’re headed straight for burnout. 

When it comes to causes you care about or current world events, we can offer value by: 

  • Giving your attention to news stories and staying up-to-date with important issues
  • Donating money or various goods to specific charities, as well as donating blood or other resources
  • Giving your time through regular commitments, such as volunteering, circulating petitions, or attending rallies and events
  • Supporting community fundraisers by helping set up charity events or contributing to your local bake sale or auction

On the flip side, the best way to balance the giving of your energy is through acts of receiving - from connection to gratitude and care. Think along the lines of:

  • Accepting invitations from friends to cook for you
  • Accepting compliments or praise when offered - without downplaying your value
  • Spending time with people who fill you up and leave you feeling warm and fuzzy
  • Marking occasions that celebrate you - like birthdays, graduation, starting a new job or moving into your dream house


    Taking action and finding rest

    Do anything for long enough and you’re bound to burn out. Which is why one of the biggest juggling acts in modern life is to balance action with rest. Being an active supporter of numerous causes comes with its own mental load, which will leave you feeling resentful rather than grateful if you don’t find that sweet spot.

    When we talk about action, we’re referring to things like:

    • Attending meetings, protests, and marches that support the things you care about
    • Educating yourself by engaging with news articles, books, and podcasts by relevant voices and creators 
    • Taking your newfound knowledge and educating family members who might not be as open-minded or informed
    • Guiding inclusive changes or policies in your workplace

    In contrast to doing is the art of simply being, taking a more passive role to balance your outward-facing energy. A few ways you can invite this into your life include:

    • Joining a yin yoga class where you’re encouraged to be present and surrender to the practice
    • Booking a massage or a spa session to lean into more restorative vibes
    • Spending time in nature watching clouds, listening to birds, and observing - without the distraction of a phone or podcast
    • Watching nostalgic movies or breezy TV shows that allow you to ‘switch off’ and unwind


      Optimism with realism

      The reality of life is there’s a lot of pain and suffering - and despite all of your actions, it can still feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle. So it’s important for mental wellbeing to find the midpoint between thinking positive and holding space for the heavier feelings. 

      When it comes to activism and maintaining passion for what you believe in, hope is an integral part of the puzzle. Some of the best ways to foster optimism include:

      • Keeping a gratitude journal - daily if possible - where you list at least 3 things you’re grateful for 
      • Surrounding yourself with like minded people who share the work of staying positive and create positive energy
      • Acknowledging the wins - big and small - in government reform, good news stories, and instances of everyday kindness
      • Attending talks with activists who build community and highlight progress in certain issues

      But we’re not so naive to think that positivity is going to keep the balance when it comes to being a human in the 21st century. Because even with all the progress that’s been made in everything from gender equality to ecological preservation, there’s still hardships to contend with. 

      So for a healthy dose of realism, we recommend:

      • Finding a good therapist who can support you with the emotional and mental struggles of life 
      • Talking to friends or family who listen without judgement or trying to solve your problems
      • Embracing vulnerability by reading Brené Brown, listening to podcasts like I Weigh, and rewatching movies that give you a good, cathartic cry
      • Journaling when you have big feelings to work through or complex questions to contemplate 



        Being alone and connecting to community

        A big and beautiful part of social justice and activism is the community it creates. Research shows that when faced with social or political challenges, connecting with like minded people to participate in concrete actions - like distributing flyers or walking in marches - brings a sense of accomplishment, while bolstering our collective spirit. Thoughtful ways to connect with others include:

        • Finding online communities through blogs, forums, and other websites, where you can access the support that might not be readily available where you are
        • Joining regular groups or gatherings in your area to support specific causes you prioritise, from your local Amnesty chapter to mental health meetups
        • Attending talks or panels with activists you admire to be recharged by their passion and the energy of everyone in the room

        And sometimes, when striving for a more peaceful and protected world feels all too much, you need to balance it out by just taking a break. When this mood hits, consider things like:

        • Taking a walk by the water or out in nature to find joy in the little moments
        • Spending the afternoon with a mindful colouring book and some calming music
        • Taking a hot shower or bath
        • Re-engaging with an favourite pastimes like dancing, video games, or craft
        • Brewing a cup of tea and sitting still until the cup is empty
        • Switching off social media and spending a weekend unplugged from the online world


        Making time for both parts of yourself

        The trick to surviving this crazy world we live in is all in the balance. When we ebb and flow between doing and being, action and rest, we keep our cups filled and our energy stable - which ultimately allows us to be a force for good without burning out. 

        Use your balancing act to establish yourself as a sustainable activist with a knack for self-care - and if you need a little more, enjoy some extra reading with this Thriving Activist Toolkit

        How do you strike balance in your daily life?