After #MeToo, I’m exhausted. You probably are, too. Sharing your story can feel like you’ve let go of something really heavy and yet that empty space now feels raw and vulnerable. For many, saying #MeToo was sad, freeing, unsurprising, unifying, and draining all at once.
But for those who chose not to say #MeToo, bearing the weight of your own trauma while reading the stories of other survivors (however inspiring or articulate) can feel nothing short of damaging. Maybe you don’t feel like you can say the same because what happened to you doesn’t seem bad enough.
Maybe you told your story when a previous campaign asked you to come forward, and you don’t want to again. Or maybe it’s high time for action, inclusivity, and accountability, not just another round of airing out something painful for social media. No matter how you feel, know that you don’t owe anyone your story. You don’t have a responsibility to share anything, teach anything, or fix anything.
Your trauma is not social currency, and your emotional and mental well-being is certainly allowed to be your top priority. Consider this your official reminder to log off, take a break, and check out these resources for self-care—and we don’t just mean face masks and lighting lavender candles.
Self-care ideas and resources
Along with tangible resources for survivors of trauma like hotlines, non-profit organizations, and online (or IRL) support communities, self-care means finding time to do just that: Take care of yourself. While the self-care hashtag has been popularized on Twitter, consumerized with branded self-care kits, and labeled a “millennial obsession,” that doesn’t make it any less valuable to your mental health.
1) Log off
What could you be doing if you spent less time online? Despite the fact that you can turn to the internet for cute comic relief, at some point you need to log off. Turn your phone on Do Not Disturb, close the laptop, and take some time to readjust your eyes to the light without a screen. Consider deleting specific apps like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
If it’s not possible to delete everything due to work, school, or personal circumstances, take some time to clean out your social media feeds. Marie Kondo your internet, if you will. Does that Instagram account filled with airbrushed beach bodies and perfectly unrealistic gym butts make you feel bad inside? Unfollow it. Do you still periodically hate-stalk an abusive ex? UNFOLLOW THEM. These changes don’t have to be permanent by any means, but regulating your feeds might help you recognize the content that brings you down.
2) Create a plan
Stress and trauma can feel all-encompassing. But when you break it down and create an individualized plan, you might be able to better problem solve. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), developing a self-care plan involves identifying how stress feels to you and determining what stressors, events, or activities cause you to feel that way. From there, you can pare down smaller solutions to better cope with your stressors.
Start by identifying what makes you feel anxious—maybe it’s going to the grocery store, walking through a large crowd, or reading your Twitter feed late at night.
3) Communicate your feelings with a friend
Tell a trusted friend, family member, or co-worker about your self-care plan. Not only does this hold you accountable if you’ve set certain goals, but it gives you a support system to fall back on when taking care of your needs feels impossible. Reach out to friends you know you can text or call at a moment’s notice. Let them know they can do the same with you. Making sure the people around you know how you feel when you’re stressed helps them to better understand and support you.
You’ve heard this a million times, but there’s a reason why exercise is recommended as a means to relieve stress and improve overall happiness. Daily exercise increases the production of stress-relieving hormones like serotonin, blah blah blah—OK, sure, working out still sucks. But do not fear!
Take the stairs, work a small walk into your morning routine, listen to a podcast as you run, or find a playlist that makes you want to dance. Incorporating movement into your routine doesn’t have to mean marathon runs or hitting the gym. Check out at-home workout YouTube channels like Blogilates or use free workout apps to make movement even easier.
5) Make an appointment to do something you love
If you’re super busy, have anxiety, or are prone to depression that leaves you glued to your bed, scheduling a concrete time to do something you love is a great way to stay on track. Your Google Calendar comes in handy on this one. Schedule a time to meet up with friends, finish your reading goals, or cook yourself a healthy meal. Tell yourself you have to meet this deadline just as much as you would for work or school.
Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/self-care/
Here’s a related video you might like:
Here’s another article you might find helpful: https://patriciabolenlmhc.com/2018/04/02/practicing-self-care-in-the-wake-of-the-metoo-movement/