Reflecting on Embodied Activism and Overwhelm
Do you ever feel grief-stricken, angry, anxious, or depressed about the state of the environment? This happens to environmentally conscious humans… We put it on ourselves to be the best environmental activists we can be when there is a limit to our personal capacity.
Sami Aaron, the executive director of The Resilient Activist, created a simple guide for environmental activists to be intentional about how our actions as an activist affect our mental health.
We may not always be a super productive activist. As humans, we need times of rest, inspiration, and dreaming. The Four Steps for a Resilient Life can help you wherever you are in your progress as an activist.
All you need to support yourself is a piece of paper or a notes app. You can save these photos and share them with a friend who may be in need of this personal care. You can also save them for yourself and your own journaling rituals.
(If you would like further explanation/examples of these prompts, scroll below.)
A gentle reminder for a weary activist…
If the Four Steps for a Resilient Life journal exercise shows you that you need to pause your activism to take care of yourself, do not feel guilty~
Remind yourself that for every single cause and need in the world, there are many others who are also working on it. If you step away from that one commitment, others will step in to fill the void.
If you are here, just know you are contributing in a most vital way to the long-term resilience of Earth!
We support our environmental activist community in person and online!
Our Four Steps to a Resilient Life programming can help you reimagine what is yours to do and how you can accomplish your deepest passion in ways that bring you joy and a sense of well-being. We continue our teachings of this heartfelt knowledge to uplift people through self-advocacy.
The Resilient Activist offers the Four Steps for a Resilient Life to private groups, large gatherings, as a workshop, and classes. Get in touch with us to plan a presentation.
In-depth Example of The Four Steps Journaling
Step 1 – REVIEW: “What Actions Am I Taking Now; What Do I Want to Do?”
- List everything you do or have done to support the planet and all its beings. Make this list as extensive as you’d like, from small to massive impact/effort.
- Then add to the bottom of that list any activities that you want to do, wish you could do, or feel like you should be doing but are not doing now.
Step 2 – REJOICE: “Which Actions Make Me Happy or are Easy to Do?”
- Go back through the items in List 1 and put a check next to each item that brings you joy. If it’s an activity you are not currently doing, just imagine how it would feel to do it. Don’t overthink this – when you read a line item, notice if your breath is open and full, if your heart sings, and you have a hint of a smile on your face. If it makes you happy, add a checkmark.
- Take a few moments to recognize, honor, and celebrate this list – it’s good stuff! ✨✨✨
Step 3 – REFLECT: “Which Actions are Stressful or Difficult?”
- This prompt will give you a sense of some of the stressors that arise when you do these activities. Include any concerns that impact your family, finances, time, energy, personality, passions, and heart as you take on each list item.
- As you go through the items from List 1, take a breath or two on each item and notice if your breath constricts, if you furrow your brow, clench your teeth, or grip through your gut.
- Then, in list 3, make a note about why it is stressful, why it is NOT joyful. How is doing this activity draining, uncomfortable, or upsetting? Try to be as nonjudgmental as possible – make it an honest assessment.
Step 4 – REIMAGINE: “What Can I Shift to Support My Well-being?”
- One list item at a time, review the activities from your difficult areas, and reflect on all the effort that goes into each one.
- Then ask yourself these questions:
- Reduce: Are there any changes you could make that could help you reduce the level of stress that arises when you do this? Can you reduce the amount of personal effort you take on this topic or activity? Could someone else help with this? Could you change when or how often you do this?
- Reframe: Is there some way to reframe this activity so that you know you’re still having a comparable impact but in a way that feels more comfortable for you? For example, maybe you shift from showing up in person for an event to sending an email, making a phone call, writing a letter, or engaging a friend to go in your place.
- Release/Remove: How would it feel to simply stop doing this one activity altogether? One aspect of Embodied Activism is paying attention to your internal wellness gauge. Tune into your breath and body and ask again: “How would it feel to stop doing this one activity?” What time/effort/funds would this free up for you to take care of yourself or explore new ideas for your activism? If you look at the number and depth of items in the list in Step 2, is there a possibility that you could offer yourself some grace in accepting that even if you give up this one item from Step 3, it would still be ok? That what you are doing – what feels most resilient – what makes you happy – is perfect?