Self-care sessions for EA groups

post by Julia_Wise, weeatquince · 2018-09-06T15:55:12.835Z · score: 14 (10 votes) · EA · GW · None comments


  Getting started
  Other tips 
  End of session
  Past sessions
No comments

co-authored by Julia Wise and Sam Hilton

We’ve had sessions on “self-care for altruists” at several EA Global conferences. Some local group organizers have asked for tips on how to host similar sessions.

Getting started

Here’s one written description we've used in announcements about these sessions:

It can be difficult to balance big altruistic goals with taking care of your own physical and mental well-being. Share your thoughts, and hear from other EAs about what has worked for them.

And a verbal prompt to give at the start of the session:

People often come to EA because they have big altruistic goals. It can be hard to balance those big goals with the realities of taking care of ourselves physically and mentally.

This is a safe space. You are invited to share thoughts on what this is like for you, how you handle that balance. That said, no one has to talk about anything. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, it's totally fine to step out of the room.

We’ll keep this session confidential. What’s said in this room stays here. Afterwards, it’s fine to talk about general topics that came up, but not “This person said that.”

Finally, please refrain from giving advice or direct comments in response to what other people say, keep the conversation to your lived experiences and what has worked well for you. At the end there will be time for sharing general advice with the whole group.

Remember we are all different and what works well for one person may not be of use to another person.

If you feel up for it, get things started by sharing something you’ve been thinking about in your own life. (One or two organizers may want to plan in advance something they’d like to say. In the past, participants have seemed to find it especially helpful for someone with standing in the community to speak about difficult experiences / depression / anxiety they’ve had, as it makes clear that it really is ok to talk about these things.)

At that point, people usually have a lot to say and the conversation flows pretty easily.

One possible structured activity to include is an adaptation of the Wellness Action Plan from Mind (a mental health nonprofit). The guide is on page 15 and can be adapted to be about "friends" rather than "manager" and "when doing activism / when involved in the EA community" rather than "at work," etc.

Other tips

End of session

It is good to end with a summary of what support is available.

Anyone else have general advice to share?

Plan for some lighter social time (snacks, unstructured chatting) afterwards so people have some time to adjust if needed before going home.

Repeat the resources above in a written form after the event (like a followup email or FB post).

Past sessions

Notes from session at EAGx Netherlands 2018.

Notes from session at EA Global London 2017.

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