I recently attended a staff retreat for Reproaction, one of my clients. During the two-day retreat, I led a few discussions on self care and goal setting in 2017 from an organizational viewpoint.
In particular, I led the staff through two exercises taken from my workshop “The Revolution Starts with Me!: Recipes, Remedies, Rituals, and Resources for Activist Self Care“. This workshop is typically co-facilitated with Adaku Utah, and is tailored to meet the needs of the primary audience. Over the years, the workshop has focused more on young activists as we’ve been asked to facilitate in mostly activist settings, but for Reproaction’s staff retreat, I adapted it to fit the organization’s self care needs. Today, I’ll walk you through one of the exercises. Whether you’re a staff or a group of students, this exercise will work for you, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Get a whiteboard or some surface that’s big enough for your group to write on
- Find some erasable markers, enough for everyone that’s participating (and make sure they’re erasable if the whiteboard you borrowed doesn’t belong to you)
- Divide the whiteboard into four sections, and table the sections (like below)
- With your staff or group, write out your recipes, remedies, rituals, and resources for collective self care
Creating your recipes, remedies, rituals, and resources
Recipes are creations you develop using agreed-upon instructions (or ingredients). In the case above, Reproaction recognized that they should become clear on the qualities they want in staff members that will allow the organization to be successful, hence coming up with an ideal staff member avatar. Reproaction operates in a remote-working environment, so potential staff members can be should have experience in working in remote settings away from the co-directors. From an individual standpoint, you can create a recipe around dealing with toxic people. What steps (or ingredients) can you take to make sure you’re talking care of yourself?
Remedies are solutions you develop in response to something that is preventing you from taking care of yourself. Reproaction wants to be more proactive in preventing staff conflicts, and one of their remedies is to address concerns at the onset rather than when something happens. Concerns can be noticing when a staff member is requesting extensive days off, not meeting deadlines, or is not reachable when something is happening and needs immediate assistance. From an individual standpoint, you can develop a remedy for what to do during a long and triggering week.
Rituals are sequences of activities done in a certain order. During their weekly meetings, Reproaction staff members acknowledge positive things they’ve witnessed staff members do for each other and for others. From an individual standpoint, one workshop participant shared their ritual for dealing with heartbreak. What other rituals can you create?
Resources are tools you to further learn about self care, burnout, and how to develop a culture of self care awareness. I shared with Reproaction the University at Buffalo School of Social Work’s Self Care Starter Kit, one of my favorite self care resources.
Other ways to do this activity
Adaku and I usually facilitate “The Revolution Starts with Me!” in activist settings, and The Recipes, Remedies, Rituals, and Resources exercise is always done as a collective exercise, rather than individually. However, I was initially prepared to led this exercise (and next week’s exercise) from an individual standpoint. Because of the nature of Reproaction’s focus on regrouping and preparing for 2017 and the new Administration, I thought it would be better to focus on what the organization can do to be resilient in the face of what lies ahead in the next four years.
Adaku and I generally use 4 piece of flip chart paper and label them accordingly (or you can label them like these participants did, and have all recipes, remedies, rituals, and resources on one sheet). Participants are divided into groups of four and assigned to a sheet. The group members take turns writing down their self care tools before they switch to another sheet. When we’re done, we do a “gallery walk” for participants to see what the collective had written down as they moved to the other sheets, and it inspires them to add additional recipes, remedies, rituals, and resources.
Come back next week for the second self care exercise I shared with Reproaction: Using intellectual, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual means to start and continue your self care recipes, remedies, rituals, and resources (and stopping things that no longer serve you).
To get a head start, sign up for my newsletter to get your copy of “The Revolution Starts with Me!” self care zine to follow along.