Nearly everyone I meet recently has been saying that they feel exhausted, stressed out, anxious, depressed, wired. And everywhere I go – in barbershops, in parks, cycling, at picnics and in cafes – I hear the same refrain. We are all obsessing about the new President and the avalanche of tweets, executive orders, tantrums and falsehoods that has been cascading from the White House since January 20th. People are reading more newspapers, watching more television news, posting on FaceBook and other social media, calling their local Congressional representatives and protesting than at any other time since the Vietnam War.
In many ways this is heartening. We are seeing democracy in action as millions of people become informed and engaged. But the downside is this kind of nervous exhaustion. My personal experience is that this obsession with tracking every action of the President feels like an energetic black hole, which sucks energy out of me and gives nothing back. I have realized that I need to find ways to pace myself. This is likely to go on for 4 years. So we need to find ways to both stay informed and activated while taking care of and nourishing ourselves so that we do not run out of steam.
Here are some tools we can use for regenerating.
- With all the talk of fake news and alternative facts, find a news source that you can trust to do independent research. It might be the New York Times, The Washington Post or, if you are conservative, the Wall Street Journal. Subscribe to that source.
- Take a one day break every week (the same day each week) from all forms of electronic media including TV news. Use the break to relax, meditate, take a walk, read a book, meet a friend, or just be quiet. Your nervous system will thank you. This is a self-recovery practice.
- So much of what is flowing out of the White House is designed to instill fear or vent anger. Be aware that if you are feeling these emotions, they may not arise from anything personal in your life but from the collective consciousness we are part of. My remedy is to make a random act of unsolicited generosity or caring to someone else. Help a homeless person, donate to a charity, tell someone how grateful you are to them, pick up some litter, volunteer at a food bank. The act itself is less important than the intention. And the intention is to practice selflessness and consideration for everyone in the face of relentless narcissism and self-promotion from the President. We are all connected.
- Take refuge in humor and intelligence. When we laugh, our bodies relax. And it’s clear that the President does not understand humor and is angered by it. We have wonderful resources: Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Amy Schumer, Alec Baldwin and the SNL team, plus so many others. We also have great cartoonists and satirists. You might look at this website for a few giggles: http://www.politicalcartoons.com/
- Remember what nourishes you the most, and allow time for that. It might be writing a journal, watering plants in your yard, listening to great music, taking your dog for a walk. Again, the specific action is less important than remembering that life is wonderful, rewarding, and that we do create our own reality. Feeling joy, celebrating, dancing, luxuriating in pleasure of any kind are acts of defiance to the dark, threatening and dismal world view of the man in the White House.
- Lastly, stay connected with your friends. Collectively, we have immense power. Look at the Women’s March in Washington and all across the nation to see just how many millions of people are coming together, with no leaders. We got rid of a corrupt President Nixon in 1974. We can do the same again today. It will take time. But when we come together, we can run a relay race, handing off the baton to others while we stand down for a day or two to come back refreshed and stronger.