A lot has changed in the months since Donald Trump was sworn into office, both on a political level and a personal one. Bustle’s State of Our Unions series looks at how millennial women's relationships with their friends, family members, and romantic partners have been affected since the 2016 election. Today's topic: millennial women explain their go-to self-care methods when the news becomes too much.
It may seem like every time you turn on your TV, read a newspaper online, or refresh your Facebook or Twitter feed, there is ~something~ Trump-related. And, if you are not a Trump supporter, it may be overwhelming. And that is exactly where a self-care practice comes in.
"If you are feeling scared, enraged, upset, or otherwise distressed, recognize when you've had enough and consider what you can do to feel better," licensed clinical psychologist Marni Amsellem, Ph.D., tells Bustle. "When you realize you're hitting an uncomfortable level of discomfort, surround yourself with calm. Turn off the TV, put your phone away, and don't go online for a little while. Turn on some music, take a bath, take the dog for a walk, or listen to a meditation app. Breathe. Whatever it is that brings you calm, take that moment of calm unapologetically."
Millennial women bear much of this stress themselves and are, consequently, leaders in the self-care movement. I spoke to 17 millennial women about what their go-to self-care remedies are when Trump-related news gets to be too much. Read on for the techniques they use to take care of themselves in today's tumultuous political climate.
"Since Trump took office, I have been learning to practice daily self-care — knowing the world may spin into chaos, but that my intimate world is vibrant when I myself am steady, calm, and energized to be creative. I have also started training in self-defense. My body feels strong. I feel capable. I feel enriched, enlivened, empowered. I often escape into a book, TV show, or movie. Go for a drive where you can find some peace in nature, leaving your phone in the car. Send a daily text, message, or letter to a dear friend, letting them know you're thinking of them. My go-to comfort story escapes are currently Harry Potter and Sense8. I've also started taking day trips to cities within one to two hours driving distance from me and prioritizing laid-back meet ups with friends."
"The key to successful self-care in the Trump age is unplugging. I have to get away from my phone, laptop, and TV. I've found that yoga and hitting the gym are great ways to do this. I also love just going for a walk with my dog because I can get some sunshine and quality time with my pet."
"With all the political happenings, there's no way to escape the news cycle, so self-care is imperative. Instead of falling into a miasma of misery when I wake up and see another [news] alert, I channel my emotions online and talk through them with my community. Black Twitter is the best way to make light of some of the darkest situations, and it connects me to like-minded people of color. I also co-founded a website, The Wimpact, that addresses some of the inequality that is highlighted every day by the media. It focuses on gender inequality, and we don't shy away from politics (though we focus our efforts in addressing the music industry)."
"As a millennial, I'm plugged into just about social media network you can think of. My news feed is pretty evenly split between conservatives and liberals, but it doesn't seem to matter who is posting — the content just stresses me out! When I get overwhelmed by the fire hose of political negativity, I have to focus on material that is positive and light. Maybe it's silly, but it helped to stop reading so much news and, instead, read comic strips! Anything that makes me smile reminds me that, politics aside, life is good. I think the key to surviving news in the digital age is focusing on positive media rather than just negative media. I stay informed, but I also prioritize positive thinking and fun."
"How I am coping with political stress? The best thing I did was commit to a stress-relief ritual. I signed up for an in-home massage membership and hold myself accountable for unwinding and turning the world off. I am a news junkie, but I make a point to turn the news on the TV off, put my phone and its news alerts on silent, light a candle, and book a massage through an app like Zeel. They come to me, and I can relax at home. It sounds pretty simple, but it's been working for me."
The week after the election, I was incredibly depressed and laid in bed reading the news, agonizing, and sharing headlines multiple times a day on Facebook. It felt like all I could do, and I wanted to make a difference. I finally made the decision about seven days later to disable my Facebook news feed with a Chrome plugin, and I purposefully avoided using the app on my phone (because I couldn't block the feed there). It gave me the ability to work on my business and make headway on important projects. So, definitely, I'd suggest limiting your intake of news."
"I practice loving kindness meditation as a form of self-care and find it very effective in dealing with all the negative news."
"I take a walk to avoid all social media, news alerts, and notifications. As a small business owner, self-care means 'me time' to clear my head, take care of my body, and enjoy nature — I try to combine all three in my self-care rituals. When I'm in the great outdoors, I can steer clear of all news and just enjoy the scenery."
"I find that yoga is my self-care routine for everything. Taking the time to give myself some love, stretch out my body, and really pay attention to my breathing helps me refocus on the moment and move forward. It's easy to get caught up in thoughts of the future and fall to fear. Taking the time to be in the moment, which yoga does for me, is a great way to fight this fear and reset yourself to move forward strong."
"A few things for me: 1. Watching a lot less news (specifically Fox) — it's too heavy and I find it really draining. I'm even trying to cut back on Twitter, too. 2. Really trying to take 'me' time — the gym, meditating (using the Calm app religiously), and making sure mental health is utmost."
"Being abroad during the Trump presidency has been hard. I can't lean on the brilliant liberal women in my life who I would typically get together with in the past to discuss policies that outraged us from gun control, birth control, and gender equality. I often get sucked into a vortex of political stories on Facebook late at night, as I am currently living about 10 hours ahead of EST in India. To combat this, I started avoiding political stories and only allowed myself to read them in the afternoon. This prevented my mornings from being tainted and ruining my entire day and continued sleepless nights.
I also reach out to like-minded individuals that I have met through traveling and share resources of how expats can advocate and resist policies from afar. When it really becomes too much, I refocus my energy on wherever my current location is. I am usually in a developing country and can count my blessings for the liberties I grew up with and will continue to fight for when I compare them to the local societies in the country I am visiting. Spending time meditating or journaling my feelings has helped alleviate some of the lonesome heaviness of processing everything the U.S. government is doing to threaten my rights as a woman and child of an immigrant."
"The best way for me to press reset on the political stresses of the day is to reflect on how I can change my surroundings and reality for a better me — whether it's logging off for a few hours, getting outside, visiting with close friends, or sitting down and educating myself on a topic I'm unfamiliar with and improving my ability and capacity to do better. 'Be the change I want to see in the world' is the greatest power I, and we all, have inside of us."
"Times are tough and, even if you don't watch the news (which I don't for a reason), your social media feed can often bombard you with some propaganda or another. The best practice of self-care I use for myself (in addition to not watching the news and scrolling right past sensational news feed stories) is when something ~does~ cross my path, I take time to evaluate the validity of it. I ask myself, 'Does this sound so sensational it's trying to provoke me?' Or, 'Does this sound rational and like there might be some actual truth here?' When I feel like it sounds rational and unbiased, I take steps to further educate myself."
"I used to watch the local news every morning, but now I skim daily newsletters and social media sites, such as Twitter, to stay abreast of current events and read longer articles once I'm in a mindset to take in what's going on. I need to guard my energy. To cope, I've also started meditating more regularly."
"I listen to music — not so much to escape my worries, but, rather, to inspire and empower myself to keep pushing. As I try to find a silver lining in everything, I think hard times can lead to great art, and sometimes my favorite artists or bands can say the words I've been dying to say or lift my spirits for me. Taking the news in stride and letting myself plug into (occasionally rebellious) tunes is the best way I know how to cope in these times."
"As someone who does activism for a living, it's often hard to practice self-care, especially as a sexual assault survivor. I tend to dive into that activism and helping others as a way of coping. I rely a lot on my various communities — talking things through with them, commiserating, figuring out ways to help others, etc. I play video games like Uncharted, where the good guy wins in the end, or snuggle with my pets, who seem to get when I'm struggling with the world. I also watch a lot of scary movies — an odd way to deal with our current dystopia, I'm sure, but an effective one. Meditation helps me, as well."
"I started doing Bikram yoga right after the election as a way to de-stress and get better at meditation. I was never a huge fan of yoga and tried meditation apps and nothing stuck, but something clicked with Bikram. It has helped me to truly relax, stay calm, and be present in the moment. It feels great to do and it's also a chance to get away from Facebook rants, work emails, and news alerts."
As you can see, millennial women take self-care very seriously, especially in today's political climate. If you're still looking for your go-to self-care routine, one easy place to start is through inspirational sayings. "Mantras can be so useful when coping with stress that seems extreme," Amsellem says. "Whether your mantra focuses on hope, acceptance, or another positive feeling, don't underestimate the power of words that we tell ourselves."
Whatever your calming mechanism may be, remember Amsellem's advice about doing it unapologetically. After all, if you don't take care of yourself, who will?