The costs of being on the front line often amount to extensive trauma exposure that leaves us vulnerable to depression, anxiety, PTSD and more. Here are a few reasons why it is important to prioritise our mental health while staying woke.
* Waking up in a society rooted in systemic discrimination shifts social struggles to the center of our existence. Waking up and identifying sources of love, peace, and spaces of freedom equips us to avoid chronic fatigue, low morale, and feelings of hopelessness.
* When we take a breath, a moment away from the chaos of 24-hour news cycles, we discover that there are other things that we are good at and enjoy. Perhaps these things could ultimately benefit the causes in our lives, but first and foremost they remind us that social labels that are meant to classify us lack the depth and breadth to encompass all of what we can do or be. Engage your curiosity as a self-care intervention and it's likely you’ll fall in love with an untapped part of you.
* Are we spending as much time surrendering as we are resisting? Laughing as we are crying? Loving as we are fighting? If not, then we will find ourselves out of balance and creating a ripe environment for depression and anxiety to thrive.
In their early stages, symptoms of depression and anxiety can serve as warning signs indicating that we lack balance. If ignored, these signs become impairments that quickly deplete our energy and leave us feeling unmotivated.
* There is nothing harmless about replaying and re-watching footage of the execution of an innocent person at the hands of the police. We cannot kid ourselves. The images, the videos, the comments, the social media wars, are all causing an overproduction of adrenaline that makes us hypervigilant and unable to find rest or find solace.
The physiological effects of trauma make it difficult to process information and make clear, effective plans for social change, or personal wellness. If our trauma intake is left unchecked, we will find ourselves knee deep in a movement rooted in fear, instead of love and compassion.
* Our passion to help others can inadvertently eclipse a healthy love for self. This looks like saying yes when our bodies are saying no, feeling guilty for not attending a social justice event, or decreasing time with loved ones and increasing time posting on social media.
* Enjoying the moments in between will keep you strong and stable for the road ahead. Neglecting our mental health by denying our symptoms of depression and normalising our anxiety will certainly shorten our stints as activists, and weaken our movements.
In between rallies, have dinner parties with music and laughter and love. Find time to connect to the reasons you joined the cause. Family, community, freedom, love. Enjoying the moments in between will keep you strong and stable for the road ahead.