Self Care After the Election
America’s dysfunctions are the highlights of the news. Candidates pointed their fingers at their opponent(s). They dodged answering important questions and continuously displayed reactivity. Therapists teach their clients to grow out of the maladaptive behavior patterns exemplified this election season. Now it’s over and everyone is exhausted.
Regardless of the outcome and what you believe in, how are you supposed to move on after dealing with so many traumatic episodes of oppression blasted on every media outlet? Many articles and comments should come with trigger warnings about sexism, racism, ableism, xenophobia, classism, heterosexism, transphobia, immigrationism, religious discrimination, etc. It’s okay to give yourself a break from reading all of the latest news to take care of yourself.
What to do instead:
When humans are letting you down all around you, it can be very therapeutic to immerse yourself into an animal’s world. Spend time with an animal whether it’s finding a pet store, volunteering to dog walk, signing up for Sittercity, or watching cat videos online. Animals are unique. They are fascinating to watch. You can connect with animals on a different level than humans can with each other. Find pictures of them dressed up. Create a voice and imagine what they are thinking about and would say if they could talk.
Take the space you need to heal. If you are triggered by Facebook and Twitter right now, take a break from it. Disconnect completely. It may feel like that is the only way you keep in touch with people, but the people who care about you will find a way to reach out directly to you. Then when you are ready to be with people, choose the people that build you back up. Those who make you feel safe and loved. It’s okay to not be ready to talk about it with people who have opposite from you. This is you speaking up for yourself about your needs. Sometimes the healthiest thing someone can do for themselves is take time away from people who have let them down.
If you struggle to ask for what you think you really need in painful times like this, an area of growth for you could be assertiveness and boundaries. Reclaiming the space, you do or do not need from people helps you assert yourself and maintain the boundaries that protect your sense of self. There are healthy ways to do this and unhealthy ways, but listen to yourself and do you! If someone telling you to change your attitude is not that helpful for what you’re going through right now, find a respectful way to assert this to them. While also allowing others in your life to process in the way that they find most helpful for them which may include their space from you.
Develop a Mantra
History has a way of repeating itself and our country has been through a lot. Find a saying that helps you feel empowered and in charge of yourself. Look to your role models for what they are saying and how they are dealing with this tough time. Use your feelings to try to learn more about our society and how we got to where we are today. As you heal and work through what you dealing with right now that will pass, remind yourself of this mantra. Make it your screen saver on your phone or computer. Share it with others who may need a saying to get through their day as well.
Some people need others for support right now and others feel better alone, honor that space described above, but also remember the same is true about self-care activities. Sometimes we do things that sound like self-care because they are supposed to help us, but the activity does not work for us in particular. We are all unique and if going to the gym during this time is making you feel worse about yourself, choose to make yourself the decadent meal instead. Give yourself the permission to take care of yourself the best way you know how.
- Practice Mindfulness
- Take a bath
- Have sex
- Deep breathing
- Happy Hour with friends
- Tell your people you love them
- Go for a Hike
- Play a Sport
Many people show up on election day wanting to have their vote heard, but remain silent the rest of the 365 days of the other 3 years. Reunite yourself with what you know about yourself for sure and the passions you have. Change is coming to our country with our new president. How do you want to handle it? Will you show up for causes you believe in and speak up about the issues you care about? Or take a backseat to what those in power decide without trying to get your voice out there? Being an activist does not require you to attend every rally and being loud spoken in front of large crowds. Not everyone is equipt to handle that spotlight. However, you can still be an activist in a small platform with a means that is more fitting for who you are.
Pick your Causes:
- Racial equality
- Health care
- Patient Rights
- Stem cell research
- Medical Marijuana
- Climate change
- Wealth Equality
- Reproductive and Sexual rights
- Same-sex marriage
- Trans* inclusivity
- Sexual assault
- Religious freedom
- Animal rights
- Homeland security
- Political Corruption
Ways to be an Activist:
- Working in a profession that matches your values
- Donating money
- Voting in local as well as federal elections
- Writing articles, blogs, or books
- Joining a local board
- Helping form policies
- Showing kindness towards the people you bump into
- Conversations with people about the issues
- Learning about the issues you are less familiar with
- Listening to others’ perspectives where you disagree without trying to change their mind
Whatever action is the best decision for you and the cause(s) you believe in, be true to yourself. Every individual can make a difference for themselves and the ones they love.