Better Together: Feminist Leaders on Self-Care & Community Care at NCCWSL

On Thursday, June 1, Women’s Center staff members Bronwyn and Uyenthi co-presented at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) at the University of Maryland, College Park! Better Together: Feminist Self-Care and Community Care When Everything Feels Awful was a generative dialogue, beginning with a reflection on this past academic year and what it means to be a “feminist leader” in these times. After discussing what self-care and community care can mean when we are part of “generation treat yo’self,” students collectively brainstormed ways to take care of ourselves, support each other, and make the world the better. We wrapped up with each person committing to one action step to take in the next week toward self-care and/or community care!

Presenters at NCCWSL

Over 50 students (and a few campus professionals) joined us for this session. Here are the ideas from their collective brainstorm! These suggestions don’t capture the full conversations had during the session, of course, but we hope they can be a good starting point to continue making the world better, together! We’ve also added links to a few resources/further reading within each section, as well. Feel free to take what is useful to you.

How do we take care of ourselves?

A buff colored cat laying on a wooden shelf, outdoors. The cat is sleeping.

  • 14 Simple (But Super Helpful) Ways to Take Care of Yourself as a Feminist by Maisha Z. Johnson at Everyday Feminism
  • 4 Self-Care Resources for When the World is Terrible by Miriam Zoila Pérez at Colorlines
  • Maintaining good hygiene (take a shower, brush your teeth, etc)
  • Healthy habits
  • Moment of peace (time to self)
  • Meditation
  • Sleep! 
  • Respect from others
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover
  • Self-reflection
  • Venting/communication
  • Allowing yourself to be angry 
  • Workout/healthy eating
  • Vacation
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Say “NO.” Or “YES” – knowing your limits
  • Resist peer pressure
  • Positive body image
  • Find hobby/voice
  • Make the choice to BE HAPPY (& thankful)
  • Allow yourself to FEEL emotions
  • Keep on learning/and listening
  • Try not to focus on dualities and dichotomies
  • It’s okay to mourn

How do we support each other?

Black and white photo of two young people walk away from the camera, down a sandy road. The taller child has their arm around the shoulders of the shorter child.

  • Communities of Care by Yashna Padamsee at Organizing Upgrade
  • On Allyship via The Anti-Oppression Network: “an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person of privilege seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group of people”
  • Making Marginalized Voices Your New Normal by Meg Sri at Feministing
  • Listen (open mind)
  • Respect differences (empathy)
  • Communication
  • Empower others vs. competing
  • Build relationships (meaningful) acknowledge our accomplishments
  • Acknowledge our accomplishments (and support)
  • Learn from each other
  • Think more about your privilege instead of your oppression
  • Recognition – check your privilege
  • Hugs
  • Compliments
  • Breaking down barriers
  • Attacking complicated issues together
  • Demonstrating authentic interest
  • Mentoring one another… experience/wiser people giving knowledge to younger people

How do we make the world better?

Poster with colorful hand printed words in child's writing: "I am so mad I made a sign! All are welcome here"

I am so mad I made a sign! All are welcome here! Poster credit: nephew of Women’s Center staff member

  • Take Action with AAUW
  • For People Who Want to “Do” Something But Don’t Know What to Do (downloadable zine) by Guante
  • Act locally, think globally
  • Volunteer
  • Get educated and educate others
  • Be willing to listen
  • Understanding and respecting other perspectives
  • Breaking barriers
  • Create more opportunities for other women
  • Finding your passion
  • Get rid of capitalism
  • Support each other as family and community
  • Be kind to each other
  • Take care of the planet, recycle
  • Show authenticity
  • Learn about other cultures
  • When we see something, take action!

One step I will take toward self-care/community care
when everything is awful:

Black background with an illustration of flowers in white. Text: "Daily affirmation: Making sure I tell myself "I love you" each day"

  • Make a kickass playlist (mostly Beyonce), put in my headphones and take a deep breath. —Skyy
  • Making sure I tell myself “I love you” each day.
  • Dedicate at least ½ hour “me” time a day.
  • Remind myself how far I’ve come and how far I have left to go.
  • Instill positivity everywhere and to everyone you meet! —S.P.
  • Cancel plans — eat pizza and watch Netflix instead!
  • Disconnect. —Trinity, Stetson University
  • Talk about it! –R.U.
  • Don’t be afraid to say No to hanging out with someone. Alone time is important for self care.
  • Treat everyone equally so they can treat m with the same respect. Going to start building healthier relationships. –H.W.
  • Meditating to find my center; regrouping and finding a cause I can support. P.H.N., Tidewater Community College, Norfolk, Va.
  • Finding/discovering your authentic self! –N.C.C.
  • Find/talk to a mentor.
  • Self preservation through self publishing: Create a DIY zine highlighting your personal narrative as well as any art, music, literature that is positively impacting you.

    Blue and yellow post-its with action step ideas

    Collection of Participants’ Action Steps Toward Self-Care/Community Care

  • Listen. Communicate. Respect.
  • Take time to breathe. Look at big picture.
  • Reach out to a local feminist org and find out how I can help. —Abigail, UW-Eau Claire
  • Take 24 hours and stay by yourself. Order in or cook.  No contact to the world.
  • Acknowledge your achievements and that of other women. Be sure to tell others about how wonderful they are.
  • Stop caring about what people think. —Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
  • Choose my words wisely and be positive. –A.P., Norwalk Community College
  • Tuck myself into bed with my lavender eye pillow.
  • I will be honest about how I’m doing and feeling to the close people in my life.
  • I will sing in my car with the radio blasting.

    Dark blue background with illustration of a cassette tape in pink and aqua. Text reads: "self-care idea: have a dnace party"
  • Work out/go on a walk/have a dance party with a group of women friends and use this to check in on each other and relieve stress by moving your body!
  • Always look at the glass half full. When everything seems wrong, look at the positive side and how adversity will make you stronger. —D.C., College of St. Benedict
  • Solitude within self. A pen and paper — write feelings. Tea, warm blanket. 🙂 —R.P., UW-River Falls
  • I check myself to see why I feel awful. Once I figure out why, I see what I need to resolve the problem.
  • Process your emotions as you feel them instead of pushing them off — find time to process and make yourself feel better.
  • Go talk to/see my best friend. —M.G.
  • Not take on so many school projects.
  • I take a step back and I treat myself to a face mask. —A.K.
  • Take a break from work and not feel guilty about it.
  • Recognize when it is all “too much” and take a moment for myself without feeling guilty about it.
  • Get outside of my problem by helping someone else through not being self-centered.
  • Shopping and working out.
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