Take a deep breath.
The past few weeks were quite stressful for a lot of people. So stressful that I’ve noticed a bad trend surfacing among my friends: extreme sniping.
Stressing way out
Anyone knows that living with constant stress isn’t great for your health or relationships. That fact has presented itself via my social media news feeds, and in my “real” life more than a few times this past week.
Look, we’re all exhausted. Since the president was sworn in, America has witnessed two straight weekends of protests. Many Americans, myself included, wake up most mornings with a knot in their stomach wondering, “what happened since I went to sleep and how is it going to hurt my loved ones.”
So, how do we combat this fear? I’m going to present a few things that have helped me calm down.
Unplug from social media
I can’t tell you how much time I spent Saturday scrolling through Twitter, heartbroken, reading the various stories of immigrants coming to the United States only to be turned away. I basically fell into a clickhole of sadness and despair.
While I think it’s important to read about these experiences, spending more than an hour reading stories and skimming disparaging remarks about immigrants doesn’t help.
If you feel yourself falling into that sadness pit, get off Twitter, log off Facebook and go to the ACLU’s website to see what you can do.
Physical action can help ease frustration in a few ways. First, you feel like you’re actually doing something rather than reveling in the never-ending pit of pure sadness that is the Internet. Second, if you choose to physically do something, other like-minded people will work with you. Together, all of you can make change and that’s more satisfying than telling an Internet troll to go fuck himself.
Listen and pause
Every issue that’s coming to light in America right now—think racism, sexism and I can’t believe I’m saying this:Nazism—is incredibly emotional. And for good reason. People have lived through wars, holocausts, rapes, hate crimes and still—still!—there are people in this country who think certain ethnicities and religions are inherently less than, or evil.
Although all this emotion is warranted, it can cause people to get a little… grumpy. Mix that with fear, little sleep and anxiety, and you’ve got an optimal environment for fighting with friends.
It can be very easy to take conversational topics and opinions about politics personally when nerves are raw. I know I’ve taken a criticism personally at least once in the last two weeks. But if all of us who are on the same side—the side of equality—stop listening and start in-fighting, we are screwed.
Listen to your friends and allies opinions and pause before reacting. Digest information before you jump down their throats. It’s never easy to hear you could be a better ally, but feedback is necessary for growth. And so is listening.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled at my television this past week. Trump firing an attorney general, telling his press secretary to tell political objectors to shut up or get out and imposing a shoddy travel ban is enough to make any progressive scream. But it turns out that my yelling is freaking out everyone… even myself.
So, I’ve started to talk to the television like it’s a child. I keep a calm tone, try not the curse and by the time a news story about men carrying defund Planned Parenthood signs at a pro-life rally ends, I’m angry… but not infuriated.
This self-calming technique also is coming in handy whenever I engage in political debates. Don’t get me wrong—there’s a time and place for screaming “eat shit” at a Nazi, but more often than not, the casual protectionist is more apt to see reason during a conversation, not a yelling match.
Look for hope
People can surprise you. Although news cycles are currently focusing on the negative, you can run across a positive story every so often.
For example, this heartwarming story about how Detroit protestors loaned protest signs for Muslim protestors to use as prayer mats.
Or how Col. Ann Wright disrupted a Tuesday hearing concerning Jeff Sessions pending appointment as Attorney General.
“I say no to Jeff Sessions, no to hatred, not to racism, not to the ban on refugees,” Wright yelled before being grabbed by police, Jezebel reports.
“Oh, ow! I’ll go out but you don’t need to drag me. I’ve got a hip replacement. I’m 70 years old and I can make it out on my own,” she said.
As she was taken from the room, she continued to yell, “but no to racism, no to hate, no to Jeff Sessions, no to the ban on refugees.”
See, there is good in the world.
Now, it’s not like I’m always able to maintain a level of zen. Hell, last Friday I ruined an entire lunch with my parents because I was awaiting Trump’s next executive order. But having these mental remedies in my gray matter helps me react better more often than not.
So, when Mike Pence and Trump try to take away reproductive rights or refuse to speak out against religious intolerance and hate, I’ll turn off my phone, have a glass of wine and take a nap before making my protest sign.
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