Binge watching old episodes of West Wing, a stiff drink, or putting our heads in the sand might help us feel better, but it may not be the most productive way to cope with the current political situation. In order for us to continue to take action and uphold democracy, we need to find ways to fill our own wells.
Perhaps our membership in Indivisible is enough. Certainly political activism is one way to help us feel like we are making a difference and regaining our personal sense of control. For Elizabeth Watson, activism is a bridge to other humans regardless of their political affiliation. “For me, finding ways to communicate so they can see we have the same values,” Watson says, is what keeps her going.
Zoe Langdon has an unspoken rule in her social life that no one talks about the current administration. “It’s like money and religion,” she says, “so our social time is political topic-free.” She and her husband apply the same strategy to certain times of the day. “Mornings are politics-free zones. And if we are going to have a discussion as partners, we try to just make statements of fact rather than emotional hyperbole,” she says, so that they don’t get the other one upset.
“Limit the news and stay on point,” says Tinicum Township resident Charles Sorrels. As an artist, he finds art to be a cathartic outlet for anything that is emotionally difficult. “The process of art, the activity itself, even if it isn’t making a point, keeps me focused and balanced when I’m angry or saddened,” Sorrels says.
Another strategy is practiced by New Hope resident Lisa Harrison, an avid physical fitness fan. She says, “It’s overwhelming if you let it be.” Instead her outlets are running, spinning and swimming. Others, like Langdon, go for walks with their four-legged companions or dance around the house.
Jim Szwedo, also of New Hope, counsels that taking some kind of break is important for sanity. “I find little oases, like doing a hobby, being with my family, or reading for fun.” He also recommends the power of music to heal the soul.
Kathy Bryant finds solace in volunteering in the schools and giving learning support to elementary age kids. She’s a part-time volunteer for S.A.G.E., which matches people age 55 and older with volunteer opportunities in local school districts. Bryant says the kids think of her as a big grandma.
Yoga and meditation are other strategies that people use to stay sane in a world turned upside down. Harrison says meditation helps her when she feels distracted or outraged.
Others turn to spirituality for solace. Amara Willey of Clinton has created an altar that has a miniature replica of the White House and the Capitol sitting on an American flag. She says she sends prayers of light, love and hope to our political leaders whenever she thinks of it. “I figure the less people are afraid, the more they will make good decisions,” she says.
Willey will be leading “Prayers for Peace, Justice and the American Way, on Sunday, March 25, from 11am – 12pm at The Room at Meadowbrook in Ottsville, PA. She explains, “Now is a time for healing and unity. Our thoughts are powerful, and we can change the world with them. Join us in ceremony to release fear and send prayers and light to Washington.”
Call to Action: Chronic stress contributes to several physical and mental health issues. Know when you need to take a break: Shut down the devices, turn off the news. Connect with supportive people, with nature, with your creative and spiritual self. Refuel, and when you’re ready, rejoin the Resistance!