12 April 2017

Managing anxiety in the current political climate

The news is scary.

And the more days that pass, the scarier it seems to get.

People in power are making decisions that have serious and long-lasting implications, and they don't seem to realize or care about those implications. Their sights are set elsewhere.

For someone like me who struggles with anxiety, the political climate can be even more scary. There are measures being enacted that have a direct and significant impact on millions of Americans and people all over the world. There are people in this country who are dying because of measures being passed and actions being allowed in this country.

We live in a country that claims vehemently to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, but because of how the people in charge are behaving, the people who are brave are not free. The people who are free are not brave. And the people who are benefiting from anything and everything that's happened since January are perfectly willing to turn blind eyes to all the pain and heartache they're causing.

They aren't impacted because they pass measures that protect themselves, not the American people.

So for people who have anxiety -- like me -- it's hard to be a social justice warrior. It's hard to look at everything that's happening and not feel it. But neither can you just ignore what's happening. Once you see social justice issues and what's actually happening in this world, you can't not see it anymore.

So what do you do?

Remember that self-care is health care.

Taking care of your mental health needs are essential. Engaging in today's politics is emotionally and mentally taxing. For someone with anxiety, it can be even more difficult. You have to remember that this fight is a long-term fight, and it won't be over in a few days or weeks (or months). Very probably, we will be fighting for the next four years. If you don't take care of yourself through this process, in whatever capacity that means, you can't resist. You can't engage. You can't fight. Self-care is health care.

Fight from where you are.

Every person has different talents and skills. Some people are organizers, some are marchers/protesters, some are talkers, some are writers. Due to my anxiety, I'm probably not going to organize a march in my community. I probably won't give a speech at a rally. But I can blog and share articles on Facebook and tweet and engage in digital conversations. So to keep my anxiety from keeping me from resisting, I have to do what I do best: engage online. If I try to do something that's outside my talents and skills, I'll be much more likely to be highly anxious, and may not be able to keep fighting. So it's important to fight from where you are so you can keep fighting.

Know that you are not alone in this fight.

Sometimes it can be easy to look at everything that's happening and think it's too much to do. "I'm just one person. What impact can I have?" Of course, there are many, many stories about individuals who fought to change the world and were successful. But you have to remember that even those individual people who have made such significant changes didn't do it entirely alone. They started the process, but they relied on lots of others who also helped them accomplish their goals. An individual may have started the conversation, but others amplified the voice. Others marched alongside the individual. You don't have to do it on your own. All you have to do is what you can do. Let others pick up slack, let others support you, let others help carry the weight. You are not alone.

There's a lot to cause anxiety in society these days. And it can be hard to fight for what's right when you're trying to stand against your own anxiety. Don't let the anxiety win. Take care of yourself so you can keep fighting the good fight.

And I'll be here to fight with you every step of the way.

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