Self-Care for Activists: How To Sustain Yourself While Saving the World

It’s hard to exist in a world that feels like it is basically under attack 24/7! There are so many causes to care about, so many initiatives that deserve attention and societal injustices that need to be rectified. Putting energy into solving these issues and standing up for human rights is important but the only problem is that there are just so many of these causes to think about and get involved in! Which is why self-care for activists is more important than ever.

It can be emotionally and physically draining because the movements you support can end up impacting literally every day of your life. Sometimes you don’t have a choice whether or not to get involved. Sometimes this shit directly impacts you and your existence! How could you NOT want to get involved? But in order to have your activism be effective, you need to make sure that you aren’t burnt out or over-extended, and that you’re practicing some MAJOR self-care!


Take care of your mental health while you save the world


Hannah Fuhlendorf‘s course “Sustaining the Activist: Taking Care of Yourself While Changing the World” in the DiveThru app covers everything you need to know about self-care for activists! Not only will you get to learn about how you can take care of yourself but you’ll also get the chance to practice it.

Practice Radical Self-Care

Radical self-care is a bit different from “regular” self-care. Radical self-care is the idea that in order to fill others’ cups, you must first fill your own. So, to help others, you must first help yourself. Radical self-care is also rooted in the idea that caring for your mind and body is an act of rebellion, activism and resistance in itself. This is because it goes against the forces that want to oppress and keep you down. 

Change can’t happen when you’re too burned out to enact it, so self-care can often become a survival technique — especially for BIPOC and others also belonging to marginalized groups. You can’t fight for your causes if you’re totally and completely exhausted on all levels. 

Take Care Of Your Body

The BLM protests of 2020 were emotionally and physically draining for so many of us. The severity and intensity of these protests truly highlighted the need to continue to take care of your body and stay physically well. Did you know that trauma is stored in the body? Which is why it’s extremely important we take care of our bodies.

There are sooo many things that you can do to benefit your body! Making sure that you’re nourishing yourself with healthy foods, finding joyful movement, staying hydrated, and sleeping. These are all important pieces of self-care to take part in. They seem simple, but who says that simplicity is a bad thing! In fact, making sure that you’re cared for on a daily basis can help propel your activism! 

Nurture Positive Relationships

Connecting with those you care about the most can help combat stress and burnout. When we foster the connections that bring positivity into our lives, it can help combat signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression, regulate your emotions and actually improve your immune system! Who knew?!

Connecting with those who energize you can be like hitting the reset button. We’ve spent more than a year away from our loved ones in 2020 and 2021, so now as things potentially reopen, you can dedicate more time to reenergizing yourself with the positivity of the ones you love. And for the relationships in your life that cause more stress, make sure to keep those boundaries in check!

Live Your Life

While activism might be a large part of your life, your values and what you stand for, it’s important that you live a life that’s sometimes separate from your activism as well. Talk about things that don’t relate to your work. It’s important to disconnect from things that impact you on such an intense and emotional level, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your causes! No one can be expected to remain in a state of emotional and physical intensity 24/7. That’s just bananas! 

Your brain and emotions need a vacation too. So, take part in activities and hobbies that excite you, calm you, energize you and recharge you! Just make sure that whatever you choose to take part in makes you happy and brings you joy. 

Go To Therapy

Going to therapy can be an extremely helpful resource for activists to utilize. Fighting for what you believe in can be overwhelming in so many ways. There might be traumas and emotions that you need to process and work through with the help of a mental health professional.

We also recommend for BIPOC activists that you find a BIPOC therapist if possible. There are some things that white therapists won’t understand about the BIPOC experience, so it might be worth searching for someone who can relate to and understand the unique circumstances that you go through. If you’re not able to find a BIPOC therapist though, you can also ask your therapist questions like, “What is your experience working with advocates, or working with trauma?” You can also ask your therapist about their political beliefs if it is important to you! 

You Don’t Have To Save The World

The news cycle has made it difficult for us in a number of ways. It’s hard to absorb that much sadness on a global scale, and also on a daily basis! Our poor little brains can’t grasp that kind of tragedy. They’re not designed to! 

So, focus your energy on one or two causes that you’re most passionate about. Dividing your attention and only giving a small portion of yourself to a cause can end up burning you out and overwhelming your mind and body. And even though you might want to take care of the entire planet (We get it! We do too!), you need to take care of yourself in order to do that. So, know what you’re capable of taking on, don’t be afraid to dedicate yourself to only a few things, and focus your efforts on what you want to change most. 

How do you feel? Good? Prepared? Ready for some incredible self-care? We do too! Being an activist is a major act of selflessness, but you ARE allowed to be selfish in order to take care of your mental and physical self. That way, you can keep changing the world in all the incredible ways you’re already doing it. We’re proud of you and the work that you do! You’re out here doing phenomenal things!!! KEEP GOING! But take care of yourself, okay?

How To Stand Up for Yourself

Standing up for yourself is really fucking hard! Often, it feels so much easier to just cater to other people’s needs before looking after your own. But opportunities can pop up in big and small ways each day where you can practice how to stand up for yourself!  

Maybe your barista gave you the wrong coffee order or your coworker stole your idea and pitched it as their own (what a jerk)! Both instances can feel just as intimidating to confront, so if you usually decide to let it go, we’re not judging! But, being a people pleaser can burn you out emotionally and physically. You end up losing sight of what YOU need and then get taken advantage of because you’re just too sweet to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty. WE DON’T WANT THAT FOR YOU! 

Your needs and wellbeing are important too! We can so often get lost in helping others, caring for them, responding to their demands, and bending over backwards for people who hardly ever say “thank you.” It’s okay to brush off small inconveniences, but it’s also important to learn how to stick up for yourself and how to be assertive.

You deserve so much better! So stop overextending yourself and burning yourself out bestie (it feels like crap)! Let’s go through all the ways you can get started on your path to self-advocacy. 

1. Remember That You Deserve Respect 

Yep! You do! Why? Because you’re a human being on this planet! And we’re going to take a guess that you’re a really nice person. Really nice people deserve respect! It’s basically a human right in our eyes. 

So, the next time that someone tries to take up your valuable time and energy without your consent, see if they’re respecting you. People pleasers (that’s us) often feel like they need to earn the respect of others, so they go out of their way to try and do that. But we need to realize that our time and energy are worthy of respect already! If the dynamic feels unhealthy, chances are that respect isn’t travelling both ways. It’s a two-way street. 👀

2. Work On Your Self-Esteem 

People who have a hard time standing up for themselves often have lower self-esteem and self-confidence. The reassurance and search for a “job well done” keeps those of us trapped in a cycle of trying to impress, cater to, and assist people that we’re seeking that sweet sweet approval from. 

Self-validation, self-love and self-worth play a big part in allowing yourself to stand up to others. Self-advocacy doesn’t really exist if you don’t think that you’re worth it. BUT YOU ARE SO WORTH IT! 

3. Set Boundaries 

Setting boundaries can feel like being asked to fly to the moon using only your little human ears — impossible! But setting boundaries with people, places, or things (all the nouns!) that aren’t good for your mental or physical wellbeing is necessary. Doing this can help you create an environment for yourself that’s only full of love, respect and positivity. 

It can feel damn hard to even know what your boundaries should be in the first place, so practice listening to your body. How does it feel when your boss asks you last-minute to cover a shift for the 3rd time this week? What about when that one toxic friend calls you right as you’ve sat down to do some self-care? If it makes you feel icky, drained, tired, upset, frustrated or just blah, that’s when you know you need to set a boundary!

4. Say No 

Saying no can feel like the hardest thing in the world to do. We never want to let people down, so when we say no, it can feel like you’re Spider-Man standing on the top of a building willingly watching New York fall to pieces. But the whole of New York isn’t depending on you and everything WILL be alright at the end of the day! 

Remember, saying no is okay! In fact, sometimes it’s fucking necessary! 

5. Remember You’re Not Being Mean

Standing up for yourself can feel like you’re attacking the other person for just asking you to help them, but that’s not the case. We promise! Standing up for yourself doesn’t automatically make you a mean person. It makes you an assertive one! But we understand how you can know this logically and still feel like you’re being a big meany pants. 

Try your best to remember that you’re not being mean, you’re just asking for what you need instead. 

6. Practice

Start small! You don’t have to go and fight the Supreme Court right away, but you can start with that barista giving you the wrong drink order. Maybe you’re lactose intolerant and drinking something with milk will land you sitting on the toilet all day! And you don’t have to be rude about it…just politely ask for a drink you know won’t make you poop your pants. 

Remember, you’re not being mean. You’re just setting a boundary. And like we said, this can be really hard to do at first, so practice, practice, practice

7. Practice Self-Care

It can feel like a mental and emotional rollercoaster trying to navigate this new world of assertiveness! A lot of emotions can start to come up and people can start to push back against the boundaries that you’re trying to set for yourself. DON’T GIVE IN! Do some self-care instead! 

Self-care helps you learn to appreciate and love yourself! Doing this helps build your self-esteem and kind of forces you to practice self-compassion too! It’s a sneaky way to make you feel good and help you realize that you’re fucking WORTH IT, BABY! 

How do you feel? Okay? Confident? Scared? No matter what emotions are swirling inside of you, know that it’s okay to feel this way. Learning to stand up for yourself can take time and it’s not always going to happen overnight. But one day you’ll wake up, tell someone to frick the frack off, and it’ll feel so powerful and amazing!!!

7 Tips for How to Break Up with Someone You Love

Breaking-up is never easy when you really love each other. But sometimes you can just tell it’s not gonna last. Maybe you’ve outgrown the relationship, you’re on different paths with your lives, or you’ve discovered an irreconcilable difference in values. And it’s better to let someone go than hang on to a relationship that is no longer serving either of you! So, if you’ve spent some time thinking that you’ve outgrown the relationship, that’s totally okay! If you’re trying to figure out how to break up with someone you love in the most gentle manner possible, we’ve got a few tips. Sure, it’ll be hard for a little while, but it’ll ultimately be for the best if you’re not happy anymore or don’t see a viable future with them. 

Of course, having the actual conversation is a lot easier said than done! And sometimes you just don’t have the right words when the time comes and you’re face-to-face with your partner. We’re here to help you figure out what to do when you’re in that situation.

How to Break Up with Someone You Love

Knowing when to break up and making that decision is probably the hardest part. What factors make you think this relationship is coming to an end? Are you sure this is what you want? You may even find yourself making a pros and cons list to help you figure out what’s going on in your head. Totally normal in this situation!

The second hardest is figuring out how and when to break up. Is it the right time? Where should you do it? Once you have firmly established that it IS time to break up, there are a few things you’ll wanna be mindful of! 

Best case scenario, the break-up is as smooth and painless as possible and there’s no confusion around whether or not you are just “on a break” (looking at you, Ross and Rachel). So, let’s get into some steps you can take to make the process a little easier! Because you can’t make someone else do it for you. 

1. Come to Terms with Your Decision

It’s a good idea to sit with this decision for a bit before you do it. Get all of those doubts out of the way so you can think about it clearly. A good trick is to practice mindfulness by viewing yourself as an impartial observer! That way, you can weigh your thoughts without the feelings that are attached to them. For example, there are often a lot of “what ifs” attached when making this decision. So, when a thought like “what if I never find love again?” pops into your head, your detached self can say, yes, you will love again, and right now you are choosing what’s best for you! It also makes you feel more sure when you’re actually going into the conversation so that you won’t be talked out of it. 

2. Don’t Put It Off

You should try to break up as soon as possible after you’ve decided that the relationship isn’t for you! Dragging it out will just keep you in a loop of feeling guilty about your thoughts of breaking up with them, and that will show in how you interact. You may seem more distant or hesitant, and your partner will start sensing that something is wrong and come up with scenarios on their own. Rip off that Band-Aid so the pain is short-lived on both sides! 

3. Do It in Person

Even though it might be easier to just say goodbye over text or a phone call, it’s confusing af and not very considerate of your partner’s feelings. Showing up and doing it in person will show them that the relationship DID mean a lot to you and that this isn’t just something to scratch off your to-do list that day. Plus, it’s important not to break up with them in a verryyyyy public place. They’ll likely be quite emotional (heck, you will be too) and you don’t want them to feel humiliated. If you can, try to do it somewhere that will be comfortable for both of you, and where both of you can leave easily if you need to. 

4. Listen Attentively and Answer Questions

Once you’ve actually ripped that Band-Aid off, your partner (or ex-partner) will probably have a lot of emotions. It might be beneficial for them if you hear them out and listen with sympathy. They might also have a LOT of questions, like what will you tell your mutual friends? How will you divide any belongings you shared? These are totally fair questions when you’ve been together for a long time! 

They may also want to know if they did something wrong or if there’s something they can do to change your mind. You can try to respect these questions, but only to a certain extent before it crosses boundaries. These types of questions are sometimes used in an effort to get you to change your mind about breaking up. Remember that the decision you made before this conversation started is the one you made most objectively. 

5. Be Honest & Clear 

Let’s take a look back at Ross and Rachel from Friends. Clearly, NO ONE was on the same page about what exactly a “break” means. So, it’s suuuuper important to be very clear about your intentions! If you want the relationship to be over over, make it known. Otherwise, your partner may hold on to the slightest sliver of hope that you may get back together, even though that’s not what you want. So, try to stay away from saying you can still be friends or other clichés like “it’s not you, it’s me.” Be point blank, but not to the point that you’re hurting their feelings by listing everything that’s wrong with them! 

6. Grieve but Don’t Keep in Contact

Grieving is very important after a relationship ends, especially when you still love them but know this is for the best. Breaking up with someone you love means you’ve had to let go of a big part of your life and that’s a loss that should be acknowledged! The thing is, you’re BOTH grieving right now, and it may be soooo tempting to reach out again and talk it out, but that’s just pouring salt into an open wound. 

You go from talking to them every day, to not talking to them at all — and that can be quite difficult to adjust to! But, trust us…we’ve been there and done that and it’s REALLY not the best idea. Keeping in contact will only prolong the grieving process for both parties and can even give the other person false hope of getting back together.

7. Don’t Force Yourself to Get Over Them

In the end, you’ve lost someone in this break-up too. It can be sooo easy to idealize the whole situation and look back on the good memories thinking they were the best thing that’s ever happened to you. When that happens, you have to remind yourself of the reasons you chose to break-up. You made this decision for a reason and your intuition is usually not wrong. You can indeed “stop” loving someone (for lack of a better word), but it takes time. And you can continue to think of them fondly! Over time, it will get easier. 

We hope this article helps you out if you’re currently thinking about breaking up with someone and don’t know how to go about it. It can be a difficult journey but staying in a relationship that is no longer serving either of you is not worth jeopardizing your growth and happiness! Just remember, you are strong and the heartbreak won’t last forever.

Read Before You Start

Hi! You’re about to start one of our courses and we’re sooo excited about that! Our courses are AWESOME sources of psychoeducation (if we do say so ourselves) that can help you start to live a mentally healthier and more fulfilling life. However, before you begin this course there are a few important things we need you to keep in mind: 

  • These courses are not a replacement for therapy or your doctor’s advice but rather a complement to ongoing treatment by a qualified practitioner.
  • There is a possibility that you’ll come across some sensitive information while taking this course. If you become triggered, or feel that a lesson might be triggering to you, skip ahead in the course (or stop taking it all together) and turn to your established coping strategies. Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or a therapist to discuss any concerns that come up.

The following articles in the DiveThru app library might also be helpful:

Resources & Support for a Mental Health Crisis

There are times when we all require help and support, and that is absolutely okay. We’re so sorry that you’re having a tough time right now. 

If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis and not feeling safe, you can use the resources below to receive immediate support. These incredible organizations are well-equipped to provide you with support in the moment when you need it most. 

Whatever it is you are struggling with right now, just know that you mean so much to the world. You matter and your pain matters and we know you might be feeling really overwhelmed right now, but you won’t always feel this way. Give yourself the time to try again tomorrow. You are not helpless and you are not worthless. Most importantly, know that you are not alone.


Kids Help Phone is an entirely anonymous volunteer-led Canadian support service that is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They provide professional treatment, information, and referrals to young people and you can talk to them about anything. Literally anything! Their services are in English and French, and over the phone, through text or online. 

Crisis Services Canada (CSC)  is a nationwide network of existing distress, crisis, and suicide prevention services that are available by phone (24/7) and via text (from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET). They are devoted to assisting anybody living in Canada who has been impacted by suicide in the most loving and least invasive way possible.

Canada Drug Rehab is a free online directory of substance use treatment, recovery, as well as other addiction-related services. This organization is dedicated to helping Canadians, their families, and addiction treatment professionals reach the support they need. They have a toll-free helpline.

National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) provides resources, referrals, and support to Canadians suffering from eating disorders via their toll-free hotline and instant chat, which is available online across Canada and in-person in the Greater Toronto Area. NEDIC is a strong advocate for breaking the stigma associated with eating disorders. The organization is here to hold open and supportive dialogue around eating disorders with anyone who may be struggling with disordered eating.

Below is a list of additional phone/text numbers for those living in Canada, and more specifically in Alberta, where we are located:

CMHA Distress Line (24/7) – 780-482-4357 

Connecteen (24/7): Text – 587-333-2724  Call – 403-264-8336 

Distress Centre Crisis Line (24/7): 403-266-4357 

Mental Health Helpline (24/7): 877-303-2642 

Addiction and Mental Health Access (24/7): 780-424-2424

Bullying Helpline (24/7): 888-456-2323

Alberta Addictions Helpline (24/7): 866-332-2322

Crisis Text Line – Text CONNECT to 741741

AlbertaQuits Helpline: 866-710-7848  

Kids Help Phone: 800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868 

Talk Suicide Canada (24/7): 833-456-4566 or Text 45645 (4pm-midnight) 

Seniors Abuse Helpline (24/7): 780-454-8888

Child Abuse Hotline (24/7): 800-387-5437 

Sexual Assault of Edmonton (SACE) 9am-9pm: Text or Call – 866-403-8000 

Sexual Assault Centre (UofA): 780-492-9771 

Health Link: 811

Income Supports: 866-644-5135 

Family Violence Info Line: Text or Call 310-1818 

Physician and Family Support Program: 877-767-4637 

Rehabilitation Advice Line 9am-5pm: 833-379-0563

Indian Residential School Survivors and Family: 866-925-4419 

Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre (24/7): 780-594-3353

A Safe Place 24hr Crisis Line: 780-464-7233

Safe Haven Crisis Line (24/7): 403-223-0483

Additional Forms of Support:

Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters: 780-456-7000 Hotline: 866-331-3933

WEAC (houseless shelter): 780-423-5302

YWCA – Women’s Social Service Organization: 780-423-9922

YESS: Youth Empowerment and Support Services: 780-468-7070

The Today Family Violence Help Centre: 780-455-6880 

Hope Mission Emergency Shelters: 780-422-2018 

FCSSA – Family and Community Support Services: 780-415-4790

United States

Safe Place locations help teens access immediate shelter by opening the doors of local care organizations (like fire stations, libraries, and other designated areas) in crisis circumstances. Safe Place is a community initiative and all of their locations are marked by a black and yellow sign. You can also access support through TXT 4 HELP, a 24-hour text program for teenagers that is available nationally. 

Crisis Text Line is a helpline available for any crisis. From anywhere in the United States, text HOME to 741741 at any time. In addition, they provide accurate, certified Crisis Counselors via their private network and you may text them at any moment.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a suicide prevention network of over 160 crisis centres that offers 24/7 support via a toll-free hotline with the number 1-800-273-8255 to anybody experiencing suicidal thoughts or mental anguish. 

National Runaway Safeline is a private safeline for runaway and homeless young people, their parents and relatives, teenagers in distress, and anyone who can benefit from their services without a judgement or a mandate. Call 1-800-786-2929 or visit their website.

The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization located in the United States that seeks to prevent suicide among teenagers who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+. Dial their toll-free phone number 1-866-488-7386 to connect to a protected service with trained therapists.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline by Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) connects those who are in need of assistance with help in their local communities. Their live chat option is available on the website, as well as a toll free number.

The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline provides assistance both in Canada and the USA from qualified crisis advice professionals. The organization is committed to the prevention of child abuse. All phone conversations, messages, and chats are kept discreet.

Love is Respect is a resource that helps you manage and prevent unhealthy relationships and learn how to address intimate partner violence. The organization enables young people with inclusive education and support. They provide information 24/7, help and support via telephone, text and live chat through confidential services. 


UK Mind gives information and assistance to young people who need support with their mental health. They cover topics such as mental health, where aid is available, what the treatment choices are, as well as advocacy and more.

Papyrus UK provides confidential support and assistance for people under 35 who are in a mental health crisis. They specialize in suicide prevention and offer a helpline at 0800 068 41 41 that is available 9am-midnight.

UK Samaritans is a registered organisation that provides 24/7 emotional assistance to anybody in distress or at danger of suicide in the United Kingdom. They answer about 10,000 calls every day without judgement or pressure to help anyone who needs it.

Switchboard provides assistance and guidance to millions of 2SLGBTQIA+ people through their hotline and online chat service. Phone operators all identify as queer and work to assist the communities dealing with current challenges.

Anxiety UK has a worldwide reach and is operated by and for individuals who suffer from anxiety. The organization has both a helpline and a text service that you can use. They also have fast access to a paid therapy session, as well as a bunch of other free resources. 

We understand what it means to be having a difficult time. Take comfort in knowing that you’re here in search of support and that is a very brave thing to do! You’re taking care of yourself just by reading through these resources.