Self care when all hell is breaking loose

I'm mad as hell and I can't focus on anything right now.

For the past few days I've been consumed with the immigrant family separations happening in our country. I'm sickened not only by the practice, and the trauma it's wreaking in thousands of lives, I'm horrified at the justifications and bald-faced lies by our leaders, most of them parents themselves. And I'm sickened by the numbers of ordinary Americans who are also justifying it. Who are we, anymore?

I haven't been able to focus much on my work. I feel badly about this, but then, I also think maybe it's a reasonable and human response.

But I'm also keeping an eye on my stress levels and my tendency to ruminate to the point of paralysis. If I'm going to obsess over the family separations, I may as well endeavor to be cool, calm, and effective, right?

Around the time of the 2016 election I interviewed therapist Dr. Cynthia Grace about how to cope with election anxiety. Here's what she said.

  • "Don't give energy to people like [Trump] by hating him," she admonishes. "Stop and instead apply the energy to self-love and self-respect...This is a time for women to get really strong and get in touch with who we are."
  • Self care is extremely important. Meditation, yoga, long walks, a massage, whatever works.
  • Seek help from a therapist if you're in serious pain. Not sure if you need it? On the fence? Go anyway.
  • Spend time with people who can affirm your feelings and help you make sense of what's going on.
  • Limit your exposure to triggering media. Oh man, do I need to get off Facebook and Twitter.  That said, Dr. Grace says reading thoughtful analysis can be helpful.
  • Don't shame yourself for freaking out. "There's no reason to think that because you're having a strong reaction to this that you're weak. It's reasonable to feel upset or anxious about this. I feel it! All that I know [as a psychologist], I still feel it."
  • Take action. This is where I've been pouring a lot of my energy. Here's a list of things you can do. Call, donate, share information. Doing something relieves some of the angst. Resist. 
  • Take the long view. I keep thinking about this statement from Dr. Grace especially: "Donald Trump is bringing out the most disgusting parts of what's not cleansed out of our society, the most despicable parts of it." All the toxicity in our nation is bubbling to the surface for us to see and deal with. We can see this as an opportunity to heal long-festering wounds, and to change. 

Stress can really do a number on your hormones, my friends. And we all know how delicate our hormonal systems already are, and what happens when they get thrown off. Women in perimenopause and beyond especially need to take care. Find ways to de-stress, and take action. Those are the two keys.