7 Little Things You Can Do Every Day To Avoid Feelings Of Hopelessness
It's been a pretty difficult time since the inauguration. OK, it's been really difficult time. And if you're feeling hopeless right now, I get it. Waking up and seeing that Trump is doing everything he can to repeal Obamacare, hurt women's health around the globe, condone torture, and even ban refugees from entering the country can just be mind-numbingly upsetting. It can feel like there's so much bad happening, what difference can you possibly make? But you can, so it's important to try to stay positive and take of yourself. Or at the very least, stay active.
"Remind yourself this is not a doomsday situation," Ken Yeager, Director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Bustle. "Remember the president is one part of a very large and complex political system of checks and balances. Not all of the doom and gloom is likely to happen."
It's a fine balance between recognizing and acknowledging all the damage that's being done, without giving into that feeling of hopelessness. A lot of it just comes down to taking care of yourself. Keeping yourself positive and strong is the best way to resist and to fight. You need to keep the hopelessness at bay to be effective and make a change. Here's how you can do it:
1Switch Off Every Now & Then
There's so much happening so quickly that you can spend all day obsessing over the latest executive order or arrests of journalists. And you should absolutely stay informed, but you need to give yourself a break too when it's getting to be too much.
"Stay off social media and do nice activities with your friends and family," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "There might be a lot of changes and concerns coming up about the next four years but it’s important to remember to embrace and appreciate these closest to you."
And more than just distract yourself, you need some total downtime. Time to breathe.
"Whatever that looks like to you, maybe avoiding the TV and social media, maybe spending time with a good book, or good friends," Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist, tells Bustle. "Find peace and quiet. Focus on your breath and what you can control." Even if it's only 60 seconds, take some time to breathe in and out.
In all this mess, one ray of light is how much everyone is getting involved. People are protesting around the country — and around the world. Joining them not only helps make a difference, but it can give you a heartening feeling of community in a difficult time. The current ban on refugees has lead to dozens of protests. Find one near you and get involved.
It's one of the first things we stop doing when we get too stressed and inward looking, but fresh air is like a damn elixir.
“Nature has a way of bring us back to our roots," Yoga Medicine instructor, Amanda Bonfiglio Cunningham, tells Bustle. "This is a great lunch break practice. Get outside and sincerely experience it. Try to listen for birds chirping or car horns. Feel the breeze on your skin and the sun in your eyes. Make a list in your head of all the sounds and sensations that occur. If you decide to take a walk around the block, notice your surroundings. Is there a person you haven’t met or a sound you’ve never heard? Allow the great outdoors to get inside." It can be an instant game-changer.
If you've grown up privileged in America, you may have a lot of catching up to do. I did and I still do. Don't be embarrassed if you're having trouble keeping up with what's happening or if you feel like you don't have the context for everything. Instead, start reading and start asking questions.
"Get educated. Start listening and critiquing the news that we receive," Hauser and International Youth Leadership Council member, Liliana Ascencio tells Bustle. "Attend local events led by communities of color and listen. Reflect on your place in this society and how you have or have not been complacent in the face of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, etc. Maybe you don’t know what these words mean yet, but that’s all part of the learning. Realize that especially if you have lived a life of privilege, it is going to be a challenging process but it is important if you want to make a difference. If you are shy — there are amazing resources on the internet listen to podcasts like Another Round, Intersection, Best of the Left. Read books by activists of color. Spend time talking to your friends of color and hearing about their experiences. Lean into your discomfort and keep yourself to a high standard. Never stop learning and listening. Now is the time, speak up, fight back."
6Call Your Senator
The best way to not feel hopeless? To just do something.
"Get involved in the community, help other people, and you will feel empowered, like you can change the world instead of being a victim of it," Jodi Aman, a licensed psychotherapist with more than two decades of experience and the author of You 1 Anxiety 0, tells Bustle.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to contact your representatives, the people who have the power to make change. Call your Senator about the Global Gag Order, about HR-7, about anything and everything that's getting to you. It's their job to listen — and they can make a difference.
7Let Your Money Do The Talking And Donate
Don't underestimate the power of cold, hard cash. And right now, there are a lot of places that could use it. Donate money to amazing organizations like the ACLU who are fighting Trump's unjust policies. Donate money to help refugees. Donate money to the NAACP. And there are so many more. There's a lot to be angry about, but pick an issue close to your heart and help them fight back.
As much as it's important to follow the news and be aware — and god, it really is — you also need to keep yourself from feeling buried by it. Make steps to take care of yourself and take action, and you'll feel better.