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This is a COMPILATION PROJECT where tips/suggestions/advice all about social self care are presented by our collective brain. It’s an ongoing piece and we will keep adding to it.
By SOCIAL SELF CARE, I specifically mean how to sustain good relationships and communication with people in friend contexts and more professional contexts. This includes: how to be better at replying to things, navigating anxieties around talking to people, practical advice and reassurances, etc.
The premise of this is that is that social skills are SKILLS that can be developed rather than natural instincts that everyone has. Communication skills are incredibly important but also seem to be where a lot of our anxieties, insecurities and misunderstandings emerge. I hope we can destigmatise the stress of communication, make allowances for each other and learn ways to improve.
in this A to Z there will be lots of ideas – some of them conflicting – and most of them will not apply to you or be useful. they are not instructions to follow. the dream is that there will be something here that can be useful or reassuring. if you take issue with any of the advice or have your own to share, please get in touch: email@example.com
a b cd e f gh i j k lm n o p q r s t u v w x y z
B is for Being Realistic
Be realistic about how much you can take on and how much you can squeeze into a day, and crucially be realistic about other people. If someone hasn’t texted you back, it’s probably because they meant to and forgot, they’re really busy, they didn’t see it or they thought they already had. Other people are shit at communicating too.
C is for Communication
Emails, texts, phone calls, skype calls, snapchat, memes, letters, postcards, zines, lists, mind maps: there are so many ways to communicate. Lots of people find phone calls too overwhelming or really struggle to reply to texts. Essentially simple tasks take on a lot of weight when you’re anxious, meaning that a text is not just a text, it’s much more. Luckily there is such a variety that there will always be a least worst option and less pressurey ways to keep hold of pals.
D is for Double Texting
Double texting is OK. Better yet, develop a stream-of-consciousness-style live-text persona and you will have paved opportunities for triple, quadruple texting and more.
D is for Dry
There are lots of alcohol-free ways to hang out! Off the top of my head: picnics, films, Christmas markets, sleepovers, film nights, tv marathons, baking, cooking a meal together (Sunday dinner mmm), getting coffee, shopping, gigs, art, etc.
G is for Guilt
Easier said than done but STOP FEELING GUILTY for bailing on plans or replying late to texts. Your friends don’t want you to beat yourself up over things, they just want to know if you’re OK and how to help you if you’re not OK.
Of course it would be great if you had your shit together enough to respond to messages (+ hopefully you can pick up some good strategies in this guide) but the bottom line is that guilt is unhelpful. No one benefits when you feel guilty, especially not you: guilt is all about self-punishing.
H is for Honesty
Scary as shit but necessary. Tell your friends and family how you are feeling. Tell at least one person at any rate. You can’t keep it bottled up and it will be better once you have shared it. People can’t adapt to your needs if they don’t know what they are.
L is for Letters
Letters are for when you need to make your friend feel special, when you have something to say that feels too big for a text, when you are feeling nostalgic for the olden days, when you are procrastinating from other things in your life, when you have been staring at a screen for too long and you need a break. IMPORTANTLY it’s all about self care. It involves arts/crafts/doodling, often writing your feelings down and you have to leave the house in order to post it.
M is for Mind Reading
No one is a mind reader. If you’re feeling on edge, you might assume that people know how you’re feeling: that they just know all the embarrassing, insecure things you’re thinking. On the flip side, you might start to resent your friends if you think they haven’t picked up on all the little hints you’ve dropped about how you’re feeling. Those hints that are obvious to you are not obvious to other people. People around you aren’t picking apart your every move and they will need it spelled out more clearly if you want to communicate something.
P is for Practice
Practice makes perfect, or at the very least, better. The more you talk to people, the easier it will become. Social skills are SKILLS. It’s not natural or organic to make/keep friends, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t got the hang of it. Skills require practice and some fuck ups along the way, as well as time and effort. Congratulate yourself when you’ve made plans and stuck to them and appreciate your strength when you’ve been honest to people.
R is for Romance
“You know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder” is an inspo quote from Paul McCartney that I can get behind. Don’t play it cool. Stay romantic to your pals: buy flowers, dedicate zines, shower in compliments, write poetry and hold their hair.
Date mentality is good for first friend dates – when you see how it goes with a potential new friend – like you’re on a mission to find out more about them & putting your phone away to demonstrate full interest.
T is for Time Out
Social fatigue is real and you need to leave room for alone time too. Some people need lots more than others and that is cool. Reading about self care, you will always come across the reminder to take time for yourself. Rest and regroup before facing the outside world again. Careful though, it’s very easy to slip into a cycle of “self care time out” which is actually a policy of isolation.
W is for What Works
Work out what works for you. Maybe it’s setting times in your day when you answer all your texts at once, viewing it as an administrative task. Maybe you’ll want to write down what you want to text beforehand to clarify it in your head before pressing send. Or it’s writing letters to people instead of face to face communication. It might be that you take a friend with you to an appointment or that you develop ways in which to signal your moods to people, eg. purely in facebook stickers.
I’ve wanted to write about social self care for awhile but I wasn’t sure how to present it or even start to write in a way that let my ideas out. Then I read a great zine (A to Z of Freshers in Edinburgh by my friend Ruby) and found this format is a good way to draw things out.
W is for White Lies
This goes against H for Honesty but sometimes a white lie is what you need. I often tell people I’m bad at names when we’re introduced to allow for future mistakes and pre-emptively alleviate some awkwardness. I’m not even that bad at names, I just like to say it as insurance. What I am bad at is remembering faces but that seems more offensive to admit.
I think the idea for the series is super important, because as a young adult you are thrown into a lot of social situations (be it work, study, friend related) which are often pretty daunting. And it can be hard to adapt to the different social requirements of various gatherings, especially if you have anxiety. Group contexts are hard, particularly if you are going by yourself and are not sure of how to ‘insert’ yourself into the situation.
I totally agree that social skills are not innate and something that you can nurture and develop! Obviously some people have more outgoing personalities, but it is definitely possible to learn and grow from each new social experience, and confidence is an ongoing process.
Advice-wise, the first thing is to acknowledge your own limitations. For example, I recognise that I find group events (e.g. private views) intimidating, so my coping mechanisms are:
Get in contact with a friend or acquaintance who I know might be going to the event and arrange to meet them there or beforehand
Try to rationalise my anxiety by thinking ‘what is the worst that could happen?’
Make sure I have a plan for going home afterwards
Phone my mum or close friend if I am feeling especially nervous about going into a room with a large group of people in it
For advice about replying to people through text or email:
Don’t pressurise yourself- take your time to reply if you are feeling nervous about reading or replying to a message
Perhaps write down what you want to text beforehand to clarify it in your head
Remember that the person you are texting will probably not analyse your reply in as much depth as you have analysed it whilst writing it
For advice on talking to people one on one, friend-wise and in a professional context:
Generally, I’ve learned that most people are not as intimidating as they look. If you are nervous and this shows when you talk to someone, the other person will understand!
It’s a bit cliché, but just try and keep calm and be yourself. Remind yourself: WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY IS VALID and just as interesting as the other person
Remember that everyone has their own shit going on, so if you sense that someone is a bit ‘off’ with you, don’t automatically blame yourself!
Finally, if you find you can’t go to a meet up or are taking a while to reply to people because you are feeling really anxious, remember it isn’t your fault. Think of a close friend who you could confide in, and perhaps talk through things with them- or if you feel safe doing so, let the people you were going to meet, or need to reply to, know that you are finding things a bit hard. A lot of people find various social situations intimidating, some people are just better at hiding it than others.
hello collective girl love brain, i need your ideas again!
i’m making an article/collage series for this blog on social self care and i’d like your tips and contributions.
this is a good space to share what you wish people would understand about your needs in a more general and anonymous sense, as well as share advice.
by SOCIAL SELF CARE, i specifically mean how to sustain good relationships and communication with people in friend contexts and more profesh contexts. this includes: how to be better at replying to things, navigating anxieties around talking to people, practical advice and reassurances, etc.
the premise of this is that is that social skills are SKILLS that can be developed rather than natural instincts that everyone else has. communication skills are incredibly important but also seem to be where a lot of our anxieties, insecurities and misunderstandings emerge. i hope we can destigmatise the stress of communication, make allowances for each other and learn ways to improve.
you can comment if you feel confident, or message me privately/us on the official gl fb page, or email xxx
We don’t learn loads about women + strikes and when we do, it’s often women within their workplaces fighting for rights and recognition, such as the Ford sewing machinists strike, 1968 which inspired the film Made in Dagenham.
When Girl Love #5 comes out later this year, you can read about the Matchgirls strike, 1888. Clearly this is crucial, overlooked history that we need to know, but there is something different about women striking as a class of people, across sectors and regions.
The UN declared 1975 to be the International Women’s Year and it was in this year that a feminist group, Redstockings staged a 24 hour strike, renamed as a “Women’s Day Off” to make it harder for employers to penalise those who took part and to make it more likely to secure support.
October 24th saw 90% of women in Iceland refuse to attend work, cook or look after kids and the country was brought to a standstill.
It’s so funny to imagine what the chaos looked like for men, who had to take their children to work, feed and entertain them – as well as compensate for the work that was usually done by women. Accounts from women are more inspiring: many attended rallies. It must have been empowering to fully comprehend the contribution that women make, and see it vindicated.
It is the crossover of interpersonal relations and political ones that makes it so radical. Not only were women shown to prop up the country economically but men in families were forced to acknowledge the unpaid labour that women do in the home.
Vaga de Totes is a feminist collective, who curated a day of protest on the 22nd October with 600 different organisations taking part. Their broad manifesto defends a woman’s right to abortion and economic freedom and is absolutely pro-migrant and anti-austerity. Women’s work is so consistently devalued, so it isn’t surprising that women bear the brunt of the economic crisis.
It’s amazing to see so many different groups come together under such a wide range of ideas, especially when you’reused to seeing in-fighting over the smallest of issues. The nature of a strike means that it simply can’t happen if there aren’t enough people willing to set aside differences for a common goal.
On Monday 3rd October, women across cities in Poland attended rallies rather than go to work or university. A proposed law would inflict a total ban on abortion, so women responded by demonstrating how effectively they can mobilise. Reportedly up to 6 million women took part in the strike, many dressing in black to mourn the loss of their reproductive rights.
This morning’s good news was that the government will remove its support for the law, with one minister quoted as saying that the women have “caused us to think and taught us humility”. We can pray for a day when women are no longer required to teach basic manners and common sense to grown men, but in today’s context, this is an excellent win for women’s movements. After seeing how quickly the government U-turned, it will hopefully inspire further action in Poland and similar demonstrations in other countries.
reviewed by Hufi, in Saskia’s pyjamas, in London, on a pleasant wednesday morning
This zine, I believe, has travelled from Montreal, Canada in our friend’s pocket to eventually find itself on my sister’s bedroom wall.
Emily and Kaley made this zine together and I know nothing about them – who they are or how to get hold of their zine. Google took me to goitalone-together.tumblr.com but it hasn’t been updated in a few years.
THE GOOD OLD DAYS: The rhetoric of “sisterhood” is one that’s familiar in the feminist movement. Evoking the image of sisterhood is a bit tired (and reeks a legacy of essentialism), but surely there is some value in the passé terms of days gone by. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about sisterhood? There is a way that the idea of sisterhood brings out how we’re all in this together. All too often in social movements of all stripes, we’re too quick to divide ourselves. We’re too eager to be critical without recognising the value in people’s actions in different contexts.
WE ARE FAMILY: Sisterhood is such a powerful concept because we’re all related to some pretty interesting women. Maybe it’s your cool aunt who taught you how to canoe, or your mom who showed you about the joys of gardening. Maybe it’s your cousin who first talked to you about sex or maybe it was your grandma who managed to survive despite a pile of hardships. Or, maybe it’s our sisters, who are different, not just from us, but from each other. Families are funny beasts. We don’t get to choose our families, but there is still a strong affinity among family members even if our tastes and interests vary. Is this the sisterhood our feminist sisters were getting at?
It’s not a magic eye-opening read but page 5 is my fave and brings it together for me:
“We’re interested in resisting righteousness. Our sisters aren’t perfect and neither are we. You can’t choose your sisters – they just are. But we’re sure as hell going to affirm resistance to the patriarchy in all its forms because that’s what sisters do. And sometimes we’ll let things slide because that’s how things go. It’s important to affirm and share that women respond to the patriarchy in varied and divergent ways. It’s important to affirm it because if we don’t support each other, who will?”
The zine goes on to discuss Anna and Shelby, the sisters of the authors; their differences and their sibling relationship. Special focus is given to listing the ways in which mainstream feminism/feminists (more radical) might dismiss them and all the ways in which these women have been feminists, without framing it as feminism – for example; loyalty to friends, fighting workplace harassment, being confident and assertive, helping friends access abortion and cope with abusive relationships.
It makes me think about how much my sisters have done for me, themselves and other people. I can’t talk about what makes me so proud of them, because lots of it is TOP SECRET and they would cringe if I wrote a public list of why I love them (which I do, lots).
What is most frustrating in the relationships with people you love, is having similar values but different attitudes and priorities. This translates into wider circles of friends and activists, but solidarity requires respect for difference.
On page 14, in conclusion: “Talking about our sisters is a broader project of building solidarity. Sometimes we don’t get where our sisters are coming from. Sometimes we disagree with them. But we love them regardless, and that counts for something”.
Starting Uni can be really daunting and scary but also really exciting, you might want to throw yourself into everything or you might want to find your own space in this new environment. Everybody’s experiences of these strange and disarming times are different but here are a few tips I picked up from my own freshers week (getting very drunk with people I barely knew) and last years freshers week when I worked behind the bar at the student union (very sober watching the terrifying antics).
Those freshers helpers who seem so much older, more mature and independent, who flatter you with their smiles and helpful advice, probably have a bet on who can sleep with the most freshers. Yes they’re not all like that but freshers week is generally seen as a time to have lots of casual sex, especially for older students who might have forgotten how bewildering it can be for someone who has just moved away from home for the first time. Of course this attitude can mean lots of fun but its worth being aware that this whole experience may be the most exciting thing to happen to you yet but for them it does not have the same magnitude. So go have fun if that’s what you want but as always be safe, keep yourself protected and be aware of the situation from all perspectives.
If you don’t want to drink or go to loud club night events or gigs that’s fine! There will be people exactly like you, but they are likely to be harder to find so try and make the effort to go to some of the day time events too and hunt them out. Freshers week is really great for making friends, especially with the people you’re living with so even just hanging out with other people in their rooms or communal areas can be a great idea.
Even if you do plan on drinking and going out every night remember that the day time events can be just as good of an opportunity to meet new people, perhaps even more so- when classes start are you really going to find that one person you met at the bar also doing your subject in a lecture hall of 200+ people and if you do will you actually have that much in common?
Don’t worry if you find that neither the night time events or the day time events are your cup of tea. You can find your own way of settling into uni and making friends, you don’t have to stick with the prescribed events that your uni thinks will help you if they are not helpful to you personally. However I personally would advise at least giving freshers week a chance because you never know what you might find.
If you’re nervous about talking to new people freshers week is a great chance to push yourself, chances are you won’t see the same faces much (unless you are at a small university) so why not try talking to that girl who’s dress you’ve been admiring, it could be the start of a great friendship.
Equally, don’t worry if you don’t meet anyone in freshers week who you feel an immediate affinity with! It is perfectly possible to find friends in lectures, societies or later on in the year who you become closer to than the people you met in freshers week.
If uni is the first time you’ve really drank then try not to feel pressured to keep up with everyone else, as I said before the people you meet might not be your lifelong friends (especially if they try to pressurise you into drinking more) so don’t worry about impressing them.
Homesickness will (probably) hit at some point. It may not be in freshers week if you’re busy with events and meeting new people, or it may be the second your parents leave. Either way moving away from home, even if your uni is in the same city as your home, can be scary and its ok to feel overwhelmed. It might sound corny but everyone is in the same position so reach out to the people around you if you feel like you can, if not maybe you can talk to friends from home who have also gone to uni and will understand the position you are in. Even your friends who have not gone to uni will be able to help you, so don’t be put off talking about how you feel.
Freshers week is only a week, once uni starts things will likely be completely different so don’t let this week get to you too much, if you feel overwhelmed or isolated remember that it isn’t going to last forever.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, take these tips with a pinch of salt! They are generalisations and your experiences could be completely different, as long as you keep your wits about you and stay safe you will have a great time and learn lots about yourself.
Leave some comments with your tips and advice if you’ve done freshers week before or if you’re going to uni soon and have any questions!