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January 30, 2017

Self-care Tips for Mental Health Advocates

Heart hands

In light of the latest presidential election, I think it’s great that the Western world has sort of woken up and decided to get more involved with advocacy work. After all, there is a positive side to every seemingly negative situation, not that I hate Trump, because I don’t. What I am saying is that, every time I go on social media, it seems that a vast majority of Americans, particularly liberal females and the men who support them, are constantly pushing forth issues they are passionate about, and how they can make significant changes for good.

I am all for being an advocate [1]. Five years ago, I began to campaign for the rights of those in the eating disorder community, while I was still in the throes of my own eating disorder and learning how to recover from a range of mental illnesses. In fact, helping others and pushing for change in my community, teaming up with national associations and bring awareness to issues is one of the biggest reasons why I believe I got to a strong place of recovery. It’s also why I am now so heavily involved in helping to pass legislation and want to run for office one day.

The Problem With Neglecting Self-care

But one of the biggest issues I’ve run into, and I’ve seen others deal with as well, is making sure that we stop and practice self-care. Those of us who have a history of eating disorders and co-occurring issues tend to be perfectionists and people who want to give away all of our time and resources. We also tend to be overachievers, and the energy that we pour out now used to be energy we used when we lived solely in the disease of our ED.

Practical Tips For Those in Advocacy

Here’s some helpful tips for anyone who wants to advocate and has lived with an eating disorder or other co-occurring disorder.

  1. Remember, self-care is number one. You can’t help others unless you help yourself, and this is especially true in politics, which can be all-consuming.
  2. Helping to pass laws takes time, like a lot of time, sometimes years and years. Just like recovery can seem to drag on, you have to practice patience with the legislative process. You are not the savior of the world and it’s a big team effort. Don’t take it personally if a bill doesn’t pass or if people don’t want to see your side of an issue. Stay in therapy and talk about these frustrations and your hopes for the future with your doctor.
  3. While social media is a great place to express your opinions, let’s remember not to get carried away, no matter what otHeart rockhers may be doing. If you feel you may be spending too much time online and it’s triggering you, again, turn off the computer, put down the phone, and stop. Breathe. Speak to neutral friends, family, and people in your advocacy groups or in the community who are a healthy role model for you.
  4. Above all, be respectful of others’ views and political preferences. And, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask others to be respectful of yours, too. Standing up for yourself gives you confidence, which trickles back to mental health. Knowing who you are and being respectful of who others are creates a balanced environment for your mind to thrive in.

For more self-care advocacy tips, email me nikki@nikkidubose.com

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What type of self-care do you currently practice?


Nikki_Dubose_2015 Web-6About the Author: Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, advocate, and ambassador. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, details her recovery from trauma, severe mental illnesses and the dark side of the modeling industry. Nikki has been featured on television shows and networks such as The Doctors, The TD Jakes Show, CBS Los Angeles, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, and profiled in publications such as People, LA Times, Vogue UK, Esquire, India Times, and Inquisitr. To find out more about Nikki, visit http://nikkidubose.com/.


References:

[1]: Advocacy, “Protecting Kids From Sexual Abuse in New York” http://nikkidubose.com/category/bl-og/mental-health-bl-og/ad-vocacy/


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 29, 2017
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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