Self-care can be as simple as finding people. The ones who just being around them or reading/seeing/listening to them makes you feel better, think better, be better. They are out there, and are worth the time it takes to find them.
I have some who don’t even know what they are to me.
For example, I truly feel like finding author, advocate, and social justice warrior Rene Denfeld and making sure to read her words regularly has helped settle me in positive ways. I recently read what she said about how “other care” is a wonderful form of self-care. It touched upon something I have been trying for a while to untangle in my head, find a way to articulate as it relates to what I’ve been seeing over and over online that didn’t sit quite right with me.
With her calm voice and clarity of purpose in mind, here goes my attempt to say what I’ve been trying to:
It is easy to attack someone for saying, “I need to take some time away from the news/social media” because that statement alone reeks of privilege (being able to stick your head in the sand when there’s a shitstorm blowing all around because it doesn’t rain all that hard on you, directly or personally). We’re already angry about so many things that it’s easy to point that rage their way.
HOWEVER. If someone is stepping away from the time-suck of social media’s back-and-forth engagement in order to prioritize their time in a healthier way that balances remaining informed with having more time to care for themselves in order to be able to actually DO something about what’s going on in this world? That’s pretty great. But also not something everyone will/can outright say. (Not everyone is good with words. Not everyone wants to publicly clarify their every move. Not everyone who does this even realizes that’s what they intend to do.)
You can step away from the exhaustion of the back-and-forth of social media without completely hiding under a rock of ignorance. It’s 100% possible.
One way I do it is to have special feeds/lists of news outlets that are a mix of those that that sway a little left, a little right, and mostly in the middle, and check in daily. Read, research, think. THEN consider what I can tangibly do to help.
Then decide whether I really need/want to make my attempts to help public knowledge.
- You can vote with the welfare of others in mind without posting about it.
- You can donate money without telling anyone.
- You can volunteer your time without Instagramming it.
- You can do kind things for others anonymously.
- You can be quite active and vocal in your community without sharing the specifics with the world.
(It also doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can share some and not others. There are no rules here.)
Doing things for others feeds us in so many ways. Doing them on our own terms without shouting it to the world is an easy kind of self-care. I highly recommend it.
I also highly recommend not automatically assuming that someone who is stepping away from/lightening up on social media is crawling under the rock of ignorance, then spending your time, emotion, energy on attacking them (they, too, are likely hurting). We need that time, emotion, and energy on much more important things. Your focus is needed elsewhere.
I spent a big chunk of my young life angry and assumptive, and it did me no good. What helped me was stepping back. Directing my energy in more purposeful ways, both to help myself and to help others (for example, I took up Kundalini yoga and volunteered at a Boys & Girls Club with kids who had harder lives than most). While the yoga calmed my mind and strengthened my body, it was my work with the kids that healed me the most. Those kids…I was there to help them but I was the one who was helped in ways that still stay with me today.
Don’t get me wrong: I was still angry. But I better understood what I was angry about and used the fuel from it in ways that did not hurt me, did not hurt others (well, I guess technically sometimes helping people hurts the ones that hurt them, but I am not counting bringing down the bad guys as “hurting” here). I also did this at a time when we weren’t on social media. I wasn’t blasting this out to anyone, I was simply doing it. Living it.
It was self-care before “self-care” was a buzz word. And it worked.
I’m finding myself angry again, and having to actively work to plant myself in that sweet spot I was at a couple decades ago when I was doing a good job of directing my anger. Because it’s easy to want to punch people in the neck. (Ohhhhh boy, so easy.) The problem is that when you start swinging with emotion instead of reason it’s hard to stop, and you are very likely to punch yourself in the process.
I find that purposeful direction of my anger to something good—whether or not I tell anyone I’m doing it—keeps my hits more metaphorical and in the right direction.
I help others.
This helps me.
And everything feels a bit more hopeful because there’s measurable action and focused purpose behind that hope.
Kim Bongiorno is an author, full time freelance writer, and the blogger behind Let Me Start By Saying. Learn more by connecting with her on: Facebook · Twitter · Instagram · Goodreads · BookBub · Newsletter · Book Announcement Mailing List