Right now, I’m seeing a lot of people burning out and falling towards despair. Day after day we are getting his with Trump’s Bullshitzkrieg of executive orders and horrendous statements. Each one has been worst than the last, and it is starting to wear people down. With all the hell this administration is putting the world through, I’m seeing people become overwhelmed with worry and dread. It would be easy to give up and hide, and that may be what Trump and his ilk are hoping for. This is ultimately an endurance race, and the only way we can win is if we can keep going while waiting for Trump to burn himself out while burning his bridges and supports. But for us to outlast him, we need to take care of ourselves.
And so I want to offer some tips for self care for the resistance
- Take care of your health first and foremost. Maintain your diet, give yourself time to sleep, and exercise when you can. If you have been prescribed medication for physical or mental health reasons, take it the way it is prescribed. If you have a medical therapy appointment recommended and scheduled, make sure you go. If you are not taking these basic steps, you are not going to be in a state to be effective in the resistance effort.
- Divide time between your resistance and non-resistance life. You are allowed to take care of your own life while fighting for the good. You don’t have to fight every minute of every day, and you don’t have to let your life go to hell. You can focus on your job when working, family during meals and trips, and the cause when you are in the street. You can fight some of the time and heal and support yourself during the other times.
- Know your own triggers and the signs when you are starting to get pushed too far emotionally. With this information you can start pick up when you are approaching a state of being overwhelmed and can take action early so that you can recover and keep going. It is easier to address a problem when it is small and just beginning, and if you wait until a crisis, it is often too late.
- Build a plan for when you do start to get overwhelmed. Put together a list of things that help you to calm down, release stress, and reset. When you notice the signs from tip #3, activate this list. If you need certain items, such as a music player, chewing gum, essential oil, etc, make sure you pack them.
- Focus on being action/solution oriented, not problem oriented. When a person only looks at problems, all he or she sees it the struggle, and can quickly start to feel helpless and hopeless in the face of the problem. But when a person focuses on identifying actions to address the problem, his or her mind is now focused on how they can be empowered to take on the problem, and that helplessness and hopelessness disappears. Learn to go from “this is bad” to “this is how we are going to fix it.”
- Set smaller goals that lead up to the larger victory. Tell yourself you will make X many phone calls in a day. Commit to writing X many letters. Set fundraising goals as you collect donations for your cause. Make X new friends at each march. See each organized event as its own victory. If your only measure for success is the end of the Trump regime, you will see each day up to that point as a failure. That is demoralizing. But if you set these small goals, you will have a series of successes to keep you going.
- Do more than just fight while you fight in the resistance. Not every moment of resistance has to be about voicing anger. The anger is necessary and justified, but will burn you out if that is all you have. Make friends at protests. Build a community. Organize and join protest parties. Host a letter writing pot puck. Reach out to others. Remember, when facing a dictator who rules by hate, the acts of love, compassion, and community are themselves acts of resistance, and love, compassion, and community will carry you farther as the anger burns out.
- Set limits on your social media behaviors. Give yourself an hour or two away from the feeds so you are not constantly inundated with the Bullshitzkrieg. Don’t argue with trolls when you are online -You can’t reason with them because they aren’t interested in reason and they only want to monopolize the conversation, so don’t give them what they want. If you are already “woke” and committed, you don’t need to watch every video that shows a wrong doing. If you already know someone is prone to spewing hate, you don’t need to watch every video that person puts out.
- Pick only a few causes for personal focus while lending support to others. You cannot champion every cause without watering down your efforts in each one. And with Trump’s Bullshitzkrieg in full effect, taking on everything will cause you to just spin out and spin and spin. So pick your cause to research, organize, and take a leadership role in. Just make sure you also are volunteering to support the works of others. If you are adamant about Planned Parenthood funding, focus on that and set up your marches and fundraising for that cause. If your friend is focused on BLM, let them organize around that. But when it comes time for action and support, your friend will show for your Planned Parenthood event, and you will show and support your friend’s BLM event.
- Keep hope by remembering that in the end, Trump cannot win. Trump’s policies are a regression, but progress is never linear. There is always a slide back, a recovery, and then we move farther forward. Trump is pushing against history, and history itself will push back. Remember this, because to keep yourself going, you must have hope.