For Americans, January 20th and every day after has probably often felt as if the signs of the apocalypse have emerged. It can be overwhelming to stay informed, be active in community events and conversations; on top of dealing with the stresses of everyday living. Add anything else and it can almost be paralyzing to act. To speak. To stand up for your own rights or stand in solidarity for the rights of others. Awareness is a good gift, though it can bring sorrow along for the ride. In spite of the sorrow and with sorrow accompanying, we must keep being active, stay aware, and continue to love one another through these uncertain times. Below are 12 methods of prevention to keep you from burning out, while being able to stay politically involved.
1. Debate with people who will listen. Debate is pointless if the person you are debating with cannot be humble enough to admit that you make a good point. Conceding a good point does not mean they agree with you but that they understand your argument, even if they don’t agree with it. Steer clear of debating with those who resort to name-calling or see peer-reviewed science as a falsehood.
2. Take frequent breaks from the internet and news. Viewership dictates media content. A lot of media does not have a majority-focus on positive news because viewership has conveyed otherwise. This can make the world feel fairly bleak. Sometimes, it is bleak, which is why it is good to take frequent breaks from watching or reading the news.
3. Read reputable news. No matter what area of the political spectrum you fall into, stay away from biased news sources. Scratch out anything with the words “liberal” or “conservative” attached to them. Examples of reputable media include: NPR, BBC, and The Washington Post, etc. This will keep you from clicking on fake news and help to keep your stress levels down.
4. Do something that makes you feel like a kid again. Blow bubbles, go to an arcade, roll down a hill, make weird animal noises, put on a puppet show, play a board game, get ice cream with the sprinkles. Basically, listen to Tom and Donna from Parks & Recreation and “Treat Yo’ Self,” in any way you can.
5. Stay inside. Put on your comfy clothes and turn on your favorite Netflix original TV show. Shut the world out for a little while and if necessary, turn off your cell phone.
6. Go to community events. Be selective in how many community events you attend. It will be different for each person but community events can be great places to get a pick-me-up of hope and faith in humanity.
7. Share stories. The truth is, sometimes data does not convince. Sometimes, it is a person’s personal experience that wins others over. Share your own story or the stories of others [with permission] of how certain policies have affected their lives – for the better or for worse. These can help both people in a conversation better understand each other, even if they disagree with one another.
8. Plan a fun outing with friends. During times of stress and trouble, it is great to have a solid support system. Take time for yourself and when you are ready, plan an outing with your friends. Laugh, dance, eat, love.
9. Call your representatives. The job title: representative, states exactly what they are supposed to do – represent. Let your voice be heard and even though it may feel as if calling your representative seems pointless, encourage others to do the same. The more people that speak up, the bolder the message. Remind yourself that even an action like this, that feels small, can make a huge impact.
10. Donate to organizations. A lot of organizations rely on donations. If you are financially able to do so – donate, so they can keep working for causes you support. This, too, will make an impact.
11. Read, read, read. Read inspiring works that will both enlighten you and encourage you to spring into action.
12. Refuse to do anything that will harm your mental health. Plain and simple. If it is harmful to your mental health to speak to certain people – do not do it. If it is harmful to call your representatives – do not do it. You can let your voice be heard by donating, by sharing articles on your social media, and by emailing the politicians that represent you.