It seems like the last few weeks (or months) have been overwhelming. In my practice many of my clients are being bombarded on Facebook and social media about all the awful things happening in the government. People turn on the news and its one more person being exposed for sexual harassment. As I write this people are deciding if a pedophile should hold public office in Alabama. It is surreal. For many people this is also personal. There is true hate that has been brewing for years targeting who they are. Speaking for myself, as a bisexual Jewish woman of color it is scary to hear blatant hate for groups I belong to as well as people for whom I consider myself to be an ally. At the same time it is a relief to have the creeps exposed. It doesn’t surprise me that so many people abuse their power. Finally people are talking about it, coming forward and experiencing consequences. I will admit part of why I chose to be self-employed is that I experienced too many people abusing their power. Not just through sexual harassment, but office bullying and general humiliation.
Many people sit in my office wanting to do something about everything that is happening. There is so much out there we can do, there are rallies, petitions, phone calls, donations to all sorts of causes. Many people I see feel overwhelmed, “where do I begin?” they ask me. “I feel like I can’t do anything and it is not enough”. The guilt overwhelms them and they become paralyzed. The other extreme is that they do everything and anything, become exhausted and resent everything. The elements that are missing is self-care and picking your battles. We need powerful energy and ripple effects.
YOU are important. The cliché to put on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else applies here. I I have created a list of strategies to keep up the activism. We need to keep you going and powerful.
1. Focus: I want you to pick one or two things that you are going to focus on and make a priority. You may already be doing something, whether its volunteering, donating to a cause, calling your representative. It is ok to say no and also ok to take breaks. This is a marathon not a race.
2. Limit time on Social Media and watching the news. I am not saying don’t do it just limit yourself to say-30 minutes a day. You choose what works for you.
3. Sit down right now and think about what makes you happy. Is it reading a book, a yoga class? What is it? When was the last time you did it? Schedule it. I don’t care that your house is a mess, or that your kids have been eating boxed macaroni and cheese for the last three days. Your boss may be breathing down your neck about something or other-you still get to make yourself a priority.
4. Slow down-relax. Here are two of my favorite ways:
A: Slow your breath down. Make your exhales twice as long as your inhales. Count, breath in counting to 3 and out counting to 6. The numbers are arbitrary just make sure that you exhale for twice as long as you inhale.
B. Practice mindfulness-close your eyes and just notice what is around you. Notice 5 things with your eyes closed. what do you hear, what do you smell, what does your body feel like? Take some breaths, when you are ready open your eyes and notice 5 things you see. There are also tons of meditation apps and YouTube videos. Check them out. They can be wonderful.
5. Put some music on-dance/sing-and challenge yourself to be the worst dancer/singer ever! Draw, color, do something creative and allow yourself to do it badly. Have fun with it.
I know things are hard. Life feels overwhelming. If these things don’t work, please seek help. I work with 4 wonderful therapists besides myself who are really wonderful and very supportive. I also can help you find referrals if we are not a good fit. What is important is that you get support and are able to be the best person you can be.