Fighting for animal rights, witnessing the daily atrocities inflicted on animals, speaking out for those who have no voice; these things and more can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Yet these are the things an animal rights activist faces every day.
Animal rights activists witness an unending stream of horrors that other humans force upon animals raised for food, raised for their fur, or experimented on in labs. The list goes on and on. These sights and sounds will resound in the mind forever. Many compassionate people fighting for the lives of innocent animals are tortured by the things they have witnessed.
These things can take a devastating toll on a person, so it important that activists do not forget to take care of themselves as well. Keep reading to see a few suggestions for ways to practice a little self-care so you can continue to be a healthy, effective voice for animals in need.
It is important to take time for yourself every day. Even if it is only a few minutes, take a moment to breathe and relax. Do some yoga. Take a hot bath. Have a glass of wine. Read a relaxing book.
Choose the thing that will help you unwind and step away from the stress of the day-to-day, if only for a little while.
It is a scientific fact that exercise is not only physically beneficial, but also mentally and emotionally beneficial. Exercising releases endorphins that make you feel good and contribute to concentration and mental clarity. It is also a great outlet for all of that bottled up stress.
Here are a few suggestions to get some light exercise while giving your mind a break:
- Take a walk around your neighborhood.
- Travel to a local park with friends or companion animals.
- Join a local gym or sign up for a fitness class.
- Find a local farm animal sanctuary that offers yoga or other classes with rescued residents.
CONNECT WITH LIKE-MINDED INDIVIDUALS
Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Make connections with individuals who value and share your beliefs. Make time for fun and relaxing activities with your friends. It is always comforting to know you are not alone in your fight for the animals or your life in general.
One option to find like-minded individuals is to join an animal rights social media group and find new friends in your area.
Yes, we have heard it thousands of times. We are what we eat. Many people assume the words vegan and healthy are synonymous, but this is not always the case. We are lucky to live in a time where there are plenty of vegan junk food options to go alongside the healthy ones. But living on junk food alone is not good for physical or mental health.
Focus on healthy vegan choices for your daily meals and try to limit the junk food. You will thank yourself later. A well-balanced, nutritious diet is essential to your body, your mental health, and your emotional well-being.
TALK TO SOMEONE
There is no shame in seeking help when you need it. Find a therapist that you are comfortable with and let it all out. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings and experiences. They are there to listen and to help you process those feelings and experiences so you do not drown in them.
If a therapist is not for you, perhaps one of your close friends would be willing to take on the role of listener. Sometimes, all we need is to get a few things off our chest to lighten the load.
There is also online support like FARM’s Interconnected vegan monthly support group where you can discuss animal rights with like-minded individuals and a vegan therapist, April Lang.
“This animal advocate support group is for anyone who cares about non-human animals and is struggling living in a world of institutionalized animal abuse. Whether your issues are with your family, friends, co-workers, or just the world in general, this group will provide you with a safe space to discuss your challenges.” ~ April Lang, LCSW SEP | Facilitator
FOCUS ON THE VICTORIES
It is easy to get discouraged by the daily losses you encounter when you have a passion for animals and their well being. They can be overwhelming and they will chip away at your mental and emotional health. That makes celebrating every victory, no matter how small, even more important. Give yourself permission to smile when you have a little win. Even the smallest victory makes a difference.
TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME
Sometimes all you can do is focus on the day at hand. Do not let yourself get bogged down with the weight of things to come. Focus on what you can do today to fight for the animals. Tomorrow may bring something completely different, but you will deal with that when tomorrow gets here.
TAKE A BREAK
The fight for animal rights is never ending, but your personal limits are not. It is OK to give yourself permission to step away from the cause for a little while if you need time to rest and regroup. When you step back into your role as protector and advocate, you will do so refreshed and ready to fight.
GET A HOBBY
Time spent on activities we love and enjoy is never wasted. Our favorite hobbies are not only fun and entertaining, they can also be therapeutic. Participating in low-stress, interesting activities outside of your work gives you opportunities to relax, unwind, and de stress.
PRACTICE SELF CARE EVERY DAY
Taking care of yourself is a required step if you want to be an effective advocate and caregiver for animals. Much like the flight attendant tells you to don your own oxygen mask before trying to put your child’s mask on them. If you pass out, you will be in no position to help your child. The same applies to fighting for animals.
It is easy to put aside your own needs when you are intently focused on caring for someone else’s needs. Neglecting yourself may seem like an easy fix for your time crunches, but it will wear you down in the long run. Your quality of mental and physical health will suffer as will the quality of care you are able to devote to the animals who so desperately need you. So take time for you. Do what is necessary to keep yourself happy and healthy so you will be able to fight your best animal rights fight every day.
What are your favorite self-care tricks? Share your ideas in the comments.