So it’s, what, Day 6? And we are already pretty exhausted.
We’re not alone in this. We’re starting to see a lot of texts and emails and Tweets and Facebook posts saying, “I am so outraged but also so exhausted and distracted. How are we going to survive four years of this?” and “I need to actually get something done at work but every time I refresh the New York Times homepage I feel like I got punched in the gut.”
Yep. Right there with you, friends.
So we spent some time talking to people who are good at self-care, including a mental health professional, and here’s advice to help us all get through this while still remaining focused and engaged.
It’s OK to Take a Break from the News
If you are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, please recognize this and turn off the media for a while. Delete Facebook and Twitter from your phone. Have your kid or spouse or business partner hide the front page of the paper for a few days. (Yes, it’s frightening and rather absurd that the Wall Street Journal is giving me panic attacks, but it’s the truth.)
It is OK to turn it off for a few days and not be abreast of every single twist and turn and development. You can come back when you’re feeling calmer and focused and ready again. And you will be more able to tackle the issues when you’re not in a mental state approaching panic or breakdown.
Take Care of Your Body
We joke about wine here a lot, but the truth is that after the election, our occasional glass of wine turned into a nightly glass of wine…which turned into two nightly glasses of wine. This isn’t a great trend. We’ve also been having trouble motivating to drag ourselves to the gym.
That all stops now. We’re back to regular exercise, reasonably healthy eating, and moderation in alcohol consumption. If the news is making you feel like you need another drink – and we totally empathize with this feeling – refer back to Step 1 above. Make yourself a lovely cup of tea instead, or have a small glass but stop there. Call us if you need support in this. Seriously.
Other options for taking care of your body and mind include: reading a book, grabbing dinner with a friend, and taking up a hobby like painting or learning Spanish. Always wanted to try meditation? There has never been a better time to try it!
Do not be ashamed to go to therapy if you want or need to. Take care of yourself, sweetie. You can’t fight the good fight if you let yourself get too worn down.
Take Care of Your Kids
Even if you’re not currently on a media break, be more cognizant than normal about putting your phone down and spending some good, quality time with your kids. Ours range in age from 1 to 13. The 1-year-old seems pretty oblivious to what’s going on (she’s too concerned with getting her hands on cheddar cheese and snack bars to focus on much else), but our older kids from ages 6 to 13 have definitely picked up on the increased tension in ourselves and other adults around them. That means they need a little more fun and attention from us than usual.
Our oldest kids have a decent idea about what’s going on with our country, and they want assurances that all of this is going to be OK. The best way to give them those assurances is to remain calm and focused even as you #StayOutraged. I know it’s hard but we can do it.
If you need some tips on talking to your children about the sexism that continues to pour out of Washington D.C., please go re-read Oona Miller Hanson’s excellent piece written before the election, which is more relevant now than ever.
Be Selective In the Issues You Address
We are all about action items. We looooove action items. The thing is, the issues are hitting us so fast and furious right now that it’s impossible to take action on every single issue while keeping your sanity intact. I spent less than ten minutes on Facebook this morning and was inundated with to-dos for:
- Planned Parenthood funding
- The border wall
- New immigration restrictions
- A senator referred to people as “burning buildings”
- Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearings
- Unfollow Trump on Twitter
- Follow alternative Parks and Rec accounts on Twitter
- Gag order on government workers
- Upcoming protests on Trump’s continued refusal to release his taxes
- Executive order restricting abortion access and funding
These are all valid concerns to say the least. And if you try and tackle the action items on every single one, you’re going to lose your mind.
Pick one or two issues you care about the most and stay engaged on those as regularly as possible. Only address additional issues if (i) you can handle it, and (ii) something arises that makes another issue particularly urgent and compelling.
Pick your battles and hit those hard. That’s being efficient. And moms rule at efficiency!
Remember We’re Playing a Long Game
We recognize there’s a lot going down at the very beginning of the Trump Administration, but we also recognize we need to play a long game. This is a marathon, not a sprint. He’s in office for four years unless things get really crazy (and we’re certainly not ruling that out…although then there’s Pence, which is a subject for another day), so we need stamina to hang in there and #Resist the entire time.
When you start to feel worn out, go back through this list and do what you need to do to stay calm and focused. Please don’t burn yourself out.
One final thought: as long as it feels, remember it’s not forever. Midterm elections are coming, and then we get another shot at a new President two years after that. This will end. Maybe re-read this piece if you need some motivation on long-term resistance.
And seriously, call or email us if you need to talk.
We send our love and solidarity to you.