We think it's good practice to review the value of self care for activists. We didn't include this topic in our Guatemala safety and security workshop, however, it was suggested by the activists in their questionnaire after the workshop that this topic should be addressed in future workshops. As a result we included this topic in our workshop in Turkey earlier this year.
It is important that we, as activists, take care of ourselves. It is impossible for us to help others if we are not performing at our best. One activist made the comparison of the oxygen masks on a airplane. We are told to assist others only when our oxygen masks are secure and oxygen is flowing. The same applies to self care. Very quickly, pressure can take a toll and spiral into depression, breakdowns and addiction if not properly addressed.
In order to help ourselves and be in a better position to address these issues, we must understand the sources of stress and pressure. These could be any number of things including:
- Working too much and getting too little rest
- Attending to other’s needs but not your own
- Financial stress and lack of resources
- Dealing with endless cases of violence or abuse
- Fear of being outed to your family or society
- Lack of emotional support
- Rivalry with other groups or activists
- Suffering from any form of addition
- Tension with family members
- Worries about your future
Similar to understanding weaknesses and vulnerabilities when making a security plan, understanding our personal obstacles is a significant first step when attempting to move forward.
If we are feeling burnt out, it is essential that we seek the appropriate help and support. This can be through support groups for emotional, moral or intellectual support or psychological support. We must address these flaws because emotional vulnerabilities can expose us and the people around us to greater risks.
The next post in this series will focus on the importance of digital security and ways for us to better protect ourselves while online. In the meantime, it maybe useful to review "How Are Mobile Apps Impacting LGBTI Communities Worldwide?". Till then, we invite you to share any feedback or questions with us via social media using #OutRight.
Published on May 11, 2016 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization