In the anti-sexual assault community on my campus, there’s a lot of talk about “self-care.” We start every group meeting with a check-in about how we’re feeling and end every meeting affirming one thing we are planning to do in the next few days to take care of ourselves. We promote self-care since anti-sexual violence work takes a huge emotional toll on those in the community: in order to keep working in the field, we have to proactively work to prevent burnout.
With that said, self-care is a complicated concept. At first it doesn’t seem that way: usually, when going around the table in a meeting, people will say things like, “I’ll make sure I get enough sleep tonight,” or “I’m going to chill out and finally watch this week’s episode of Glee.” Now, getting sleep and watching Glee are great things. But beyond those one-time activities, how can we make sure to do self-care at times when we feel pressured to put everyone else’s needs first?