Oh, my. It is so hard these days - mentally and emotionally - to keep up with all the Really Bad News out there. (Just scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed is enough to do me in most days.) (And it has. Many days.)
So. As we buckle up for the long haul, it's important to figure out ways to . . . BALANCE . . . (there's my word again) our need-to-know with our need-for-rest. So we can keep up our strength. So we can move forward.
So we don't burn out.
We need to figure out how to survive the crush of Really Bad News . . . while maintaining the strength and passion we need to continue taking action.
Here's what I'm doing:
- I'm recognizing that Being Informed is not the same as Being Immersed. I'm trying to limit my news-reading to just a few good articles each day (I begin my day with the New York Times daily briefing that shows up in my email inbox), and listen to the latest stories on NPR. If I start reading all the other . . . stuff . . . well, I might as well just dig a hole for myself in the backyard and crawl in. I am also limiting my time on social media (especially Facebook).
- I'm trying to stick to my usual routines. While it is easy to feel overwhelmed right now, it is best to just keep plugging along with familiar activities that keep us healthy and well-balanced. So I keep heading to the gym and getting to bed at a reasonable time.
- I'm looking for opportunties to take action. I find that if I can do . . . something . . . I feel much better. I'm glad that there are so many options out there to help me figure out what to DO -- but even that can be overwhelming. The things I like best: Daily Action (because very focused and concrete), Wall of Us (because good, do-able options each week), my local League of Women Voters chapter (because local).
- I'm sticking with my daily meditation practice -- because it helps me feel all the feelings. I think it's really important to allow myself to feel the range of emotions that are surfacing these days, rather than ignoring them or dwelling on them. Meditation helps me do this; for others it might be prayer or contemplation. Feelings come and feelings go -- and this is good. I am not my feelings.
- I'm working hard to maintain my sense of optimism. Positive emotions leave the door open -- while negative emotions slam the door shut. I'm trying to keep things on the positive side by looking for the good and filling my life with people and things that bring me hope and joy.
- I'm taking care of myself. Yeah, I know that self-care-is-the-new-black ... but I think it's important to engage in some personal pampering right now, whether it's an afternoon nap, scented hand-cream, or an art class. It's all about finding some bright spots!
- I'm finding my people. It helps me to connect with others who share my concern about what's happening in our country and our world. Good venting sessions are balm for the soul right now. Talking with like-minded friends helps process our feelings -- and, we can also talk each other down from the ledge when our feelings overwhelm.
- I'm working hard at being kind -- to everyone all the time. We really are in this together, y'know? So I have decided to be intentionally kind and patient with everyone I encounter -- friends and strangers alike. It makes me feel better, and I'm hoping it makes the people I interact with feel better, too.
Bottom line? Take action --- but take care of yourself, too.
“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.” --- Noam Chomsky