We are all attached to the political storm to some extent, but our levels of attachment vary. Think of it as a continuum. At the far end of the continuum there are the people who don’t want to watch or read any news, talk about politics, or know anything about the latest “crisis.” These are people who have detached from the world around them as best they can.
Then there are the people at the other end of the continuum. They don’t want to miss a thing. And they respond to what they hear by attending rallies and marches, calling local and national legislatures, joining local and national movements, and doing whatever they can to stay engaged.
Most of us fall somewhere between these two. But regardless of where you fall, it’s still important to find the balance between being attached to the politics of our time and being detached in order to maintain our well-being. We all need to find our own version of balance between staying engaged and disengaged. But how?
Take Care of Yourself
Get enough sleep, eat the best you can, and (try to) exercise. This is standard advice we get from just about anyone. But few of us really understand their value over the long-term. These three suggestions are important, because they truly are essential for good self-care.
Don’t Shut Out the Positive
It can be easy to feel negative and gloomy all the time. When keeping up with the tumultuous media, make sure you stay engaged with activities that foster your well-being and mental health. Be around friends (and have a no-politics talk promise), go to the movies, put on music and dance around your living room, watch sports or HGTV or whatever floats your boat.
Limit the Time You Spend on Social Media
Sometimes when we’re feeling powerless, we believe the more information we have the better. We convince ourselves that information is power. And while this can be true, we have to remember that it is possible to take in too much information. It is possible to make ourselves feel overwhelmed and scared.
To start weaning back on your media intake: Refrain from opening up your Facebook feed, or any other social media, first thing in the morning or as you’re winding down for sleep. Seems simple, but try it once and just see how hard it is.
Make a decision on how active, or inactive, you’re going to be in the political process. Determine how often, and over what issues, you are going to contact your senators and representatives. How many letters, emails, and calls are you going to send? How many marches are you going to get involved in? How much are you going to talk about politics to your friends and family? Set limits for yourself and follow through.
Take Time for Yourself
Continue any routines you had in place before the political storm hit that helped keep your mental health strong. Take a walk, exercise, meditate, take a bath, go to yoga, get involved in a recurring spiritual practice. Do things that give you a certain degree of solitude and quiet. You don’t have to be a guru on the mountaintop, but it helps to stay quiet with yourself.
Because, like the old saying goes: If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be worth a damn to anyone else.