As we comprehend the results of the 2016 presidential election, the foreseeable future looks scary for many of us. That's why it's important to keep in mind different ways to practice self-care to help us brace ourselves emotionally for the weeks ahead. No matter what presidential candidate had your vote, it's safe to say that many of us feel divided among our communities, friends, and even families — and that alone can create a huge sense of stress and discomfort. For those of who feel particularly targeted and vulnerable based on our identities, such as the queer community, Muslim-Americans, people with disabilities, people of color, and women in general, the coming weeks may feel truly terrifying.
No matter what, though, it's integral to remember that we can make progress and move forward, even if things are looking bleak beyond belief. While everyone has different values and needs, it's important to spread the message of the value ofself-care, and that whether you choose to volunteer your time to activism or not, you still deserve to take care of yourself. If you need to tune out the news for a while, that's OK! If you need to step back as an educator, or take a break from a platform, that's OK, too! It's important to recharge and take care of your own needs as we fight for our larger battles and value systems.
Here are some suggestions for how to take care of ourselves emotionally in the coming weeks to offer a foundation for our self-care:
Find A Community You Trust
Finding a community that you trust can have a huge impact on your mental health. While some of us need alone time to grieve and heal, many of us feel better when we're connected to those with whom we share common values or identities. As a queer person, I'm seeking out LGBTQ safe spaces as a way of connecting with those who share my personal fears and educating myself on how we can help one another.
Unplug From The Internet
I know, I know. Unplugging from the internet is basically unheard of, but I promise you, it's OK to do it! It can feel like between the news and social media, there are no breaks in the flow of information. While knowledge is power, it can also be really overwhelming. It's OK to take breaks and remove yourself from the flow when you need to.
Find A Therapist
If you don't currently see a mental health professional, it's definitely valid to seek one out to help you manage your stress and worries about the future. If you have insurance, it's a good start to determine which local providers are covered by your plan, and beyond that, who offers services specific to what you may need — a psychotherapist, for example, may offer a different experience than someone who focuses on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
If you don't have insurance, there are free and reduced options available. The Text Crisis Line, for example, is an incredible free resources that offers counseling via text message. Meanwhile, the TalkTherapy App offers reduced rates of counseling all done via messaging. And of course, there are always hotlines you can call, no questions asked.
Spend Time Outside
Go into nature. Even if you live in an urban area, prioritize spending time outside every day and getting some fresh air. Put away your phone and take in your surroundings. If you're interested, try meditation or yoga while outside. Go for a long walk. Or just sit on a bench and take deep breaths.
Read For Pleasure
Pick up a good book! Whether you want something focused on politics or not, you have plenty of options. There are sources where you can legally obtain free e-books, and of course, there is your good old fashioned library. Heck, your library may even provide free e-books, hitting both of those options in one go. You can also prioritize books by diverse authors, or books that celebrate inclusive characters and plots.
Make Plans That Excite You
For many of us, the future looks truly terrifying. Even if you're balancing work, school, family, and so on, it's still OK — necessary, even — to make time to plan things that excite you. Free and wallet-friendly options exist if you're on a tight budget, too: If a local museum has a free night every month, plan to go. If a community center offers free craft classes every other weekend, pick one to attend. Discount movie tickets every Tuesday? Tell your friends to meet you there. Big or small, having something to look forward to can make a huge impact on your wellbeing.
Organize Your Time
Especially if you are someone worried about your legal status or documents, now is the time to get organized and plan ahead. Know what materials you need to complete the tasks you want to get done before January, and call local offices and community spaces to educate yourself as much as possible for what the future may hold. Don't wait until the last minute and hope for the best. Be active. Take the time you need to grieve, but when you feel ready, there's work to be done.