By Rachel Jacoby Zoldan. Photos: Courtesy of CNP Montrose.
This Wednesday, March 8, is International Women's Day, and this year the date holds a special significance, because it is also the Women's Strike, a day that will see women across the world joining together to remove themselves from the economy in protest of the current political climate (specifically the societal barriers that keep all women from achieving true equality). There are two main events are being held—A Day Without a Woman, organized by the Women's March, and the International Women's Strike, a grassroots endeavor founded by a team of activists, feminists, and scholars—and organizers from both are working together to create a united message. It's shaping up to be a pretty amazing day.
I am all in favor of both initiatives, especially the countless rallies organized around the globe. But I'll admit, I get pretty anxious and claustrophobic in large crowds, so the idea of piling into a crowd of protestors leaves me pretty shaky. Also, because I'm a freelance writer, I don't necessarily have the luxury of taking Wednesday off—something I share with many women in all kinds of roles who are not able to formally strike. Still, I want to be involved, and something all women—anxious, agoraphobic, working, striking or otherwise—can do is partake in self-care. The feminist communities recognize the burden put on women to always be oriented towards others, sacrificing their own desires and needs.. So give yourself a break, even if just for a minute on Wednesday, and try one of these ways to make yourself a little bit healthier, happier, and stronger.
Sounds obvious, I know. But I'm not talking about just breathing like you always do. I'm talking about paying attention to your breath, inhaling and exhaling, slowly and deeply. Spend five minutes just breathing deeply and you'll feel more alert and more relaxed. Take it a step further and try a yogic breathing exercise, which researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found to relieve individuals of major depressive disorder.
2. Go into airplane mode—even if it's just for a little while.
I was working the day of the Women's March, and ended up spending the day endlessly scrolling through Instagram. Besides the obvious (and serious) FOMO, I realized how much it can benefit us all to turn off from time to time. Even if you can only take few-minutes-long break, stay offline. Because for all the good social media can do in this time, there's a lot to be said for staying in the present moment, something social media is perfect at distracting from. Unplug and relish in whatever you're doing, even if it's just savoring a cup of coffee. Those tweets will still be there to read later.
3. Speaking of coffee, forgo your daily latte and donate the money to charity instead.
I've been guilty of buying myself one (or two, or three) pricey coffees on a busy day. On Wednesday, though, I'll be brewing my own pot and donating the extra cash to a charity that can make a difference to the issues at hand. Try the ACLU or Planned Parenthood for two really incredible options. Giving to others can (and will!) energize and inspire you to do incredible things.
4. Get some exercise and move your body, but only in ways that feel good for you.
Exercising doesn't have to mean a brutal bootcamp session, especially if ten minutes of gentle stretching would feel much better. You probably know how good exercising is for your body and mind, and moving will give you a boost to take on the rest of whatever you've got scheduled and keep any nerves at bay. We even have a workout formula for every personality.)
5. Get writing.
I am so grateful for the women who can and are getting out and participating in a march, rally or otherwise on Wednesday. So I'm gonna take to my journal, and spend a few minutes jotting down exactly what—and who—supports me when I'm feeling on the outs and expressing gratitude for those who work for women in marginalized communities.
6. Pull off an anonymous act of kindness.
It's always awesome to do something kind for another person, but there's something particularly rewarding about paying it forward incognito. There's an old saying that "you haven't lived today unless you've done a favor for someone who can't repay you," and I've been stuck on that idea, particularly as it relates to self-care, in light of the recent political and social climate. There's something so much more intensely satisfying to me about being a mystery hero.
15. Go outside. For any amount of time.
This is probably the hardest one for me, but the power of nature is real, with research showing spending time outdoors reduces blood pressure and muscle tension and slow the production of stress hormones. While the streets of New York City don't offer the same healing properties that a forest or a beach does, wherever you are, getting outside can really help.
Hopefully one of these ideas resonates with you. In the meantime, I'm here, practicing them too—and maybe all that self-care will quell my anxiety enough to rally in the next great march.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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