Chapter 2

Self care and collective care

Self care is a part of daily living. It’s the daily acts we take to look after our own health, wellbeing, social and psychological needs. 

Collective care is when people in a group take care of the wellbeing of others. 

For many of us, taking care of ourselves is not always easy. Engaging in collective care when we are not even practising self care can be even harder.

This can be caused by tendencies or logics valued in the system we live under. For example, we can neglect to care for ourselves and others when we place productivity over wellbeing, quantity over quality, urgency over intentional and slow pace, etc. 

Activists and social change makers usually end up working too much. One study found that 10-50% of union and peace activists have experienced burnout, and up to 87% of peace activists had quit activism within six years of getting involved.

To make sure you don’t burn out or to ensure your group doesn’t feel overwhelmed by the tasks they have set themselves, it’s important to practice self and collective care. 

Use some of these ideas to develop your own self care plan: 

  • Limit activism hours, and mute all communication channels outside of these hours 
  • Dedicate an entire hour for lunch break and avoid rushing with it while still working
  • Be realistic about the number of tasks on your plate
  • Dedicate time to other activities which you enjoy and that can provide you with release and distraction (doing sport, spending time with friends).

Use some of these ideas to develop your group’s collective care plan: 

  • Be aware of any sensitive issues or subjects that may need a trigger warning
  • Be aware of any major issues happening in the personal lives of your colleagues that may require their attention or may impact their lives or work
  • Respect when colleagues tell you they need to be offline
  • Learn to say no and empower others to flag unreasonable expectations and timelines
  • Communicate clearly about any unresolved issues with an individual team member
  • Limit channels of communication for work; do not use FB chats and Whatsapp for ongoing work conversations
  • Spend 10 minutes at the beginning of a call catching up on life and personal updates with the team member you are speaking to
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Here are some useful links