BALANCING STUDENT ACTIVISM AND SELF-CARE

Self-care is a popular topic as of late, and most of us agree that it is very necessary. However, how do you find the time to practice self-care when you are a busy, passionate person dealing with the devastating effects of our current political climate? Read more about how Peer Educator, Sareil navigates the balance between student activism and self-care.

Balancing Student Activism & Self-Care

by Sareil Brookins

*Trigger Warning: Police Brutality, Death

Being a student and an activist can be absolutely overwhelming, point, blank, period

Balancing one’s mental, physical, and emotional health can be even more overwhelming given the current political climate and current events. Opening up Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/etc. everyday and viewing fatal shootings by law enforcement, violent outbreaks at a protest, or homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist (the list can go on) language from those darn friends, family, and acquaintances you have can be so very detrimental to your mental and emotional well being. Cumulatively, the work you do as an activist, and the amount of time you spend reading, hearing, and watching ignorance spewed can take a toll on you.

This is where self-care comes into play…and no it does not make you selfish to practice it.

Self-care comes in many, many, many, many forms. You probably already practice self-care unknowingly. For example, that one time you achieved getting more than 5 hours of sleep? DAS SELF-CARE. Or that other time you did that assignment way before the due date, and then had time to take care of yo’self? DAS SELF-CARE. I’m sure you can think of at least one time you took care of yourself, but may not have viewed it as self-care. Nevertheless, there are endless possibilities for balancing your self-care, here is a list of self-care practices to try out:

  • When social media becomes too much (too violent, draining, triggering) EXIT ASAP, just take a break
  • Celebrate the little victories
  • When you wake up, say 3 things outloud that you will accomplish
  • Learn something new (every day, once a week, etc.)
  • Forgive yourself
  • Make a list of things you love about yourself & post it where you will notice it every day
  • Listen to music that brings warmth to your soul
  • Take a nice, long, hot (or warm, whatever you prefer) shower
  • Embrace nature that surrounds you
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Take naps when needed
  • Hug someone you love (friend, family member or partner) for 12-15 seconds—studies show this boosts immune system function and prompts the release of calming hormones.
  • Let yourself cry if you need to (I’m still working on this)
  • Binge watch one of your favorite TV shows, vlogger, movie series, etc.
  • Practice daily grounding exercises
  • Call someone… who just gets you

All in all, self-care is key, it’s not selfish, and it is very necessary to succeed and balance your health and activism. Keep up the work you do. When you feel like quitting, remember why you started. Pat yo’self on the back. Remind yourself you will make mistakes, but will grow and learn from them.

Love yo’self. Treat yo’self. That is all.

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STEPPING BACK

Being a student in college is most definitely a privilege. Here at UCSC, we have so many opportunities and things to get involved in all around us! While it is amazing and exciting to try new things, study hard, and volunteer our time to important causes, we must also remember how to say no sometimes. Read more about Peer Educator, Jorge’s advice for taking a step back.

Stepping Back

by Jorge Roque

Often times as college students we are taking up more than we can handle. While yes we do not want to be missing great opportunities, it is also important to take care of ourselves. While in college we are often running around trying to make the most of our time, and still wishing that we had more hours in the day. It is important to know when you are doing too much, and when it is necessary to step back.

One of the first things to be on the lookout for is when it is time to step back because of your sleeping habits. When you begin to take on more responsibilities in your life, your workload and your sleeping schedule changes. You may find yourself sleeping less, while working for longer hours. While meeting deadlines is important, your sleep is also important. If you are not sleeping a good amount of hours you won’t be performing to the best of your ability.

Something else to be on the lookout for is the way your body feels. Are you starting to get headaches, an upset stomach, drowsy, jitters, or anything else that may seem abnormal?All signs that you may be going through stress and that you need to take a step back from the demands of life. Once you begin to feel differently, it may be your body telling you that it cannot handle everything being thrown at you.

Not being productive is another way of knowing it is time to step back from all of life’s demands. When things begin to pile up, you may begin to feel overwhelmed. When you begin to feel overwhelmed your productivity starts to decrease. Eventually you do not end up doing anything you are suppose to do because you do not know where to begin. Stepping back may be a good way to get your mind sorted out and creating a plan to get through your workload.

As we grow older the demands of life get larger, and we are hit with more responsibilities. While sometimes we are able to juggle each thing in our life, there may be times when we cannot juggle it all around. And that is okay. By stepping back you are allowing yourself to not only pick yourself back up, but also coming back even stronger. Stepping back may seem scary, you may not want to miss opportunities, but be assured, there may be more amazing opportunities to come. Stepping back from life’s demands is necessary sometimes.

CREATIVE FUEL

As human beings, we all experience our own unique challenges, setbacks, and hardships, and mental health issues are a common challenge that many of us face. And despite how common it is, we often tend to feel alone or unusual when we experience mental health challenges. However, all you have to do is look around you to realize that many of us are struggling, and not only that but many of us are using these challenges to learn, grow, and create good things such as beautiful art inspired by these experiences. Everyone is different, and this is not always the case. But whether you decide to turn your challenges into art, or move on and grow in different ways, you are most certainly in good company.

Creative Fuel

By Priyanka Kulkarni

Vincent Van Gogh, Beethoven, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Robin Williams, Demi Lovato, they’re all incredible musicians, writers, poets, painters, and comedians. They have all created incredible works of art that touch our hearts long after their work was published. They all also suffered with some form of mental illness. A lot of their work was inspired by their experiences with the inner demons they were battling.

Many of us that consider ourselves some sort of artist probably ask the question, is there a relationship between creative ability and mental illness? Will our art matter to people if we are not suffering while creating? I have asked myself these questions all the time. Obviously, we don’t want to be suffering. We want to find happiness in the moment, but when the world shows us that artists who suffer, succeed, we tend to feel guilty if we are feeling good about ourselves and are not suffering so much in our life.

        You do not have to have a mental illness in order to be an artist or be successful in general. Yes, many artists that are well known do battle a mental illness, but that doesn’t mean every artist has to have a mental disorder in order to create good work. Creativity comes from within and what you are feeling in the moment.

        All of this ties into the idea of feeling anxiety about not having anxiety. Our brains and bodies have been trained to always be worried about something, always have something going on. But when we experience that rare moment of complete relaxation and no worries, we may start feeling guilty. We feel guilty about having a good time and feeling like there is no weight on our shoulders for once. We want to enjoy it, but it’s hard when everyone around us seems to have something going on and we are used to being stressed out. These are negative thoughts in our brain that want to make us think a certain way about ourselves in comparison to everyone else. These unwanted thoughts cause us to be so hard own ourselves and be our worst critics. But it’s important to try and ignore them, surpass them, and enjoy the moment and not feel guilty about feeling good. In fact, we should be proud of ourselves for working so hard all the time and still finding our way to happiness and being positive. We’re actually more incredible than we think and we don’t give ourselves enough credit.

        Feeling happy is a good thing. Not having something to worry about is a breath of fresh air and we should breath in that clear air as much as we can before the carbon dioxide finds its way back in. It’s all a cycle.

        Embrace what you are feeling in the moment and put that feeling into your artwork as an artist. If you are creating something, take what you are feeling in the moment. Creativity comes from what you want to depict to the world, not from what our negative thoughts tell us. We are all unique individuals with valid emotions and it is vital that we are accepting of ourselves, so be easy on yourself from time to time, it’s totally okay to do that.