Self-Care for Tough Times
You may know all of this already. But here are some reminders.
Take a few moments every day to take a couple of deep breaths and check in with yourself – body, mind and spirit. How are you doing? Where do you feel tension, discomfort, pain? Where do you feel relaxation, joy, pleasure? No action or judgment needed, just notice.
Do at least one thing every day that brings your body relaxation or pleasure, lifts your mood, warms your heart, and/or inspires your spirit. It doesn’t have to be big. Five minutes is enough to make a difference. It can be something as simple as taking a few deep breaths, doing a stretch, walking outside and looking at the flowers in your garden, if you have one. Or your neighbor’s garden. Listening to music you love. Taking a hot bath or shower. Talking to someone you care about in person or on the phone.
What your mother or grandmother said: Eat a healthy, balanced diet! Get some exercise! Get enough sleep! Easier said than done. Pick one of these and make small changes each day to take better care of your body. It’s your own little piece of Earth. Love the Earth, and love your body, as much as you can.
Exercise is one of the best antidepressants there is. You don’t have to put on Spandex and go to the gym. For example, walking is excellent exercise, if you can do it.
Spending time in nature is like taking a healing tonic. It lifts your mood, strengthens your immune system, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, puts you in touch with other living beings, and a host of other benefits. You don’t have to hike in the Cascades. Where’s your nearest city park? Hang out with the trees there. And listen to them. They might have something interesting to tell you.
Vet your news. Make sure you read and listen to sources that use good journalistic practices and are more likely to report the truth. Be aware of what triggers difficult emotions for you, and take care of yourself as you read or listen to those stories. It’s tricky to stay informed and not get overwhelmed with awfulness. It’s our job as citizens to stay informed. Our democracy depends on our doing so. Discomfort and more intense emotions like rage can help motivate action to change things. For those of us who have privilege in some or many aspects of our lives – race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and/or physical ability, for example – news or stories that make us aware of that privilege can make us uncomfortable. That’s part of becoming educated and changing oppressive behaviors. Staying with what’s comfortable for those with privilege perpetuates the status quo. And: it’s OK to take breaks, turn off the TV and social media, put down the phone.
Avoid propaganda. It often masquerades as news. The propagandists (including Trump, who’s a master) want us to feel unhappy, discouraged, disrespected, diminished, defeated. They lie. Seek truth.
Come up with a list of things that give you hope. Or even one thing. When you start to feel discouraged, remind yourself of those things. Recite them to yourself. Visualize each one being completely present and true in the moment. Notice how that makes you feel.
Figure out how you are going to vote in the midterms, and VOTE. Plan it out ahead of time. Come up with specific ways you will overcome any barriers that present themselves. Ask for help if you need it. Voting is one of the best acts of self-care we can engage in right now. If we don’t vote, life will get a whole lot worse for all but the few who hold economic and political power. If you don’t think your vote matters: it matters to ME. And a whole lot of other people. If anything comes up that makes it harder for you to vote, call the Election Protection Hotline: (866) OUR-VOTE – (866) 687-8683 or online at https://866ourvote.org/
Think of a person, an event, an experience, anything in your life for which you feel grateful. Take that feeling into your heart. Let it grow. Let it nourish you.