“Attach your oxygen mask first before anyone else’s.”
Last Tuesday felt like the ultimate gut punch. Against my better judgment and what I thought was human decency, the majority* of people who voted elected a narcissistic, bigoted, misogynist who was endorsed by the KKK.
I have listened to many, many people expressing their fears about what will happen under his presidency. It’s my fervent hope that none of these things will come to pass, but I’m not waiting to see what will happen, and I’m not keeping an open mind. Oh hell no. I’m preparing for the worst. I’m gonna fight with everything that I can.
In the midst of the swirl and anger, grief and panic, I was reminded about self-care from my own support network. Election night I was so anxious, I never ate dinner. It’s very unlike me to not eat a meal. By 9:00 p.m. I felt awful and I realized it might not just be due to the results. I got some food, something I could stomach, and it helped take the edge off.
So I want to talk about taking action and self-care. I know a lot of you are having a difficult time, and these are basic things you can do that will help as you prepare.
- Eat real food, if you can.
- Exercise, move your body in some way to tire yourself out and work off excess energy.
- Water. Water is transformative and mood-alerting. If you can’t swim (which takes care of the activity piece AND helps regulate your breathing), take a bath, a shower, or even just splash water on your face.
- If you take medication, take it. If you work with a therapist, keep working with them.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol if you are feeling anxious and/or depressed. Both will just make you feel worse.
- It’s okay to limit your involvement with social media, take breaks, or stop reading it altogether. Social media is fueled by outrage. Your friends are still going to care about you.
- Get hugs. Humans need physical touch for mental health and resilience. If there aren’t people you feel comfortable asking for hugs from, see if you can get a massage, or even a pedicure or manicure.
- Get out in nature. If you live in a city, go to a park. Look at the trees. Look at the sky.
- If you are having trouble falling asleep, here’s a little technique I learned. It gives you just enough to distract you while boring you to sleep. Count from 1 to 5, with each count being on the inhale or exhale. So: one – inhale, two – exhale, 3 inhale, 4 – exhale, 5 – inhale, 4 – exhale, 3 – inhale, 2 – exhale, 1 – inhale. Wash, rinse, repeat until you fall asleep.
- Do the things that fuel you – whether that is art, writing, music, organized sports … you have something you are passionate. Don’t give that up. That is what makes life worth living.
- After you’ve done those things, figure out how you want to get involved. Here are a few resources:
- Here’s an amazing collection of bystander intervention and deescalation resources
- My friend Beth has committed to doing one action a day. Knowing I can do one thing a day makes this whole elephant a lot more digestible. Not to mention knowing there are other people doing things.
- The most effective way to contact your elected officials is to call. You can look up your elected officials on Common Cause. Beth did a better job rounding up the lookup tools.
- Consider supporting journalism. The New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, or Mother Jones are a few options.
- National non-profits are awesome, like ACLU, Planned Parenthood and Southern Poverty Law Center. Check out orgs that are in your area. They are on the ground and can give the most appropriate and direct help to affected populations. For Seattle, I have identified: Legal Voice, ReWa – works with refugee women, Pride Foundation grants scholarships to LGBT students in the PNW, NW Immigrant Rights Project, International Rescue Committee has an office in Seattle, Capitol Hill Housing, and Solid Ground. See if your employer will match, to make your donation go even farther.
Take care of yourselves, find ways to get involved, rest, and reach out to your communities. You are not alone, not by a long shot, and together we WILL make a difference.
*I’m acknowledging voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the 50% of eligible voters who for whatever reason didn’t vote. So really, less than 25% of eligible voters, which is NOT a majority.