Since the election this past November, we’ve all been trying to figure out how to deal with information overload. From outlandish tweets, less-than-comforting public statements, blurred lines between fact and fiction, claims that valuable information sources are only providing “fake news” and constant threats to healthcare and human rights, there’s no escaping the amount of negative news out there. However, escape is not the answer. Now is the time to rise up and band together to fight back and make change by attending protests and rallies, organizing meetings and contacting representatives. People all across the country have been showing up every day to #resist, but how much more can we take before exhaustion sets in? It’s impossible to fight the good fight without taking some time to recharge and get centered. Self-care is more important now than ever before.
Self-care routines vary from person to person, as well they should, but whether your personal routine involves meditation, cleaning, journaling, or taking a day to just unplug, there’s one activity that you should seriously consider adding to your day: reading. Whether it’s self-help guides, books that help you better understand your movement or even trashy romance novels, reading can be an essential source of relaxation and care in a time of need. Here are five reasons why activists should include reading as a part of their self-care routines:
1. It Gives You A Brief Break From Reality
While it’s important to pay attention to the news and keep up with what’s going on around you, it doesn’t hurt to take a break every once in a while. Reading fiction can help with that. These temporary breaks will help you to face reality again with a clearer mind, fresh eyes and less negativity.
2. It Gives You A Chance To Rest
If you’re attending marches, protests and demonstrations, you’re probably pretty exhausted from so much time spent on your feet. Instead of curling up in front of the TV when you get home, why not kick your feet back and relax with a good book? Get yourself comfy and cozy with a warm blanket, a fluffy pillow and your reading material of choice. You’ll soon see that you not only feel more well-rested, but even stronger than before.
3. It’s Comforting
It can be easy to get so caught up in all the news that it makes you frustrated, angry, scared and even depressed. However, the key to keeping activism alive is by keeping hope alive. This can be done by finding a source of happiness and security in your everyday life—and a great place to start is on your bookshelf. Whether it’s a favorite you’ve read a hundred times before or a new, uplifting story, books have the power to comfort sadness, lessen anger and lift spirits.
4. It Improves Empathy
While reading fiction can help you escape reality, it can also help improve an important skill needed in the here and now: empathy. Researchers at the New School have found that literary fiction helps readers better understand what others are thinking and feeling. Who says your self-care routine doesn’t have to aid in also making you a better ally?
5. It’s Inspiring
No matter if you’re reading a true story about someone who overcame oppression or a fantasy book about a magical adventure, all books have one thing in common: they can inspire readers. Now more than ever it’s important that we all find encouragement to keep going and keep fighting, even when the odds are stacked against us. Reading books where fictional heroes and heroines take down evil governments or expose corruption will do just that.
How has reading helped you during times of crisis? Do you include it as part of your self-care routine?
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