It’s like a bad car crash. You can’t look away…
Except it’s the morning news and it’s just another day in the Trump Era. Could be Russia, healthcare, banning transgender military members from serving, or maybe a new threat from North Korea. Or maybe it’s supporting police brutality…
And let’s not forget Trump’s former “Communication” Director who said:
“Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,’ Scaramucci said. He channeled Priebus as he spoke: ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.”
“I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,’ he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. ‘I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President.”
And I’m not going to hide the language used by the President of the United States’ former “Communication” Director speaking to a New Yorker reporter. Because I shouldn’t have to.
These examples are just from one week in the Trump Era. And those of us in the Resistance can barely remember a time when we weren’t stressed out. It’s a full-time job saving Democracy. It can be exhausting and overwhelming. Many of us have struggled to balance our new found activism with all our responsibilities. It’s extremely hard to stay focused on soccer practice when planning a protest if Trump fires Special Prosecutor Mueller.
Here’s how one Indivisible member puts it:
“This is so difficult because it is so toxic and stressful and I feel like we need a treatment center.”
While we probably can’t build a treatment center, we can learn how other members are handling this unprecedented level of stress. And we’re going to need all our strength to overcome and thrive over the next few years.
“Eating crap, rolling my eyes (they’re really strong and flexible these days) and reading fluff.”
“Read, watch BBC series.. anything to de-escalate the tension.”
“I walk into the theatre and concentrate on the actors and the stories being created and told on the stage.”
“Long naps (I’m retired) plus buying an occasional lottery ticket so we can move to Canada if we win…”
And there’s some science to back this up. A study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine shows how hobbies can lower stress by 34% and the effect can last for hours. It doesn’t matter what the hobby is as long as it’s something you enjoy doing.
Need a few hobby ideas? Here’s what our Resister Sisters do every week:
- Read fiction (Jane Austen is a favorite!)
- Garden (not sure what they’ll do in the winter?)
- Knit (lots of knitters, not many crocheters?)
- BBC (one of Resistance’s favorite channels!)
- Make jam
- Smoke a peace pipe (hey, it’s legal now!)
- Play games
- Listen to music
- Listening to birds
Not sure where to start? May I suggest learning how to knit a pussy hat!
“Don’t you think Rachel Maddow needs to bring back Friday cocktails?? And expand that to every night’s show!”
“Vodka (made in Maine, not Russia)”
“Alcohol when needed-use with caution!”
Maine’s Resisters actually have a few preferences when it comes to taking the Trump edge off. Apparently, we LOVE wine, followed by tequila, vodka, and bourbon. But, let’s face it, we can’t take a drink every time Trump does something stupid. Imagine a drinking game called “President Trump Tweets Something Offensive”. We would all be drunk by 9 am most days.
Instead, let’s agree to bring back Friday cocktails with Rachel Maddow. Let’s start with the Old Pal.
We just can’t live without them. And like hobbies, pets are scientifically proven to help us cope with stressful situations and can help us lower anxiety by 37 percent. In fact, we like them more than our spouses sometimes!
“When people were presented with stressful tasks in four different situations — alone, with their spouse, with their pet, or with both their spouse and their pet — they experienced the lowest stress response and the quickest recovery in the situation where they were only with their pet”
Here are a few of the Resistance’s stars who keep their moms and dads from running naked in the streets.
Kelli Burton’s irresistible pair:
Jen’s newest family member, an adorable rescue:
Kate’s beautiful baby is just what the doctor ordered:
And it’s not just dogs. We love all kinds of animals! Amber Hartmann unwinds when she “goes out to my garden and watch my chickens”.
One member raises butterflies, and watches the terns and hawks feed their babies.
And there’s also a consensus that we all need baby goats. Since most of us don’t have a backyard full of goat goodness, here’s the next best thing!
Sure, baby goats seem like they could cure everything. But some days we need more than a good laugh. When asked how she handles stressful Trump days, here’s what one Indivisible member puts it:
“Honestly? Quiet and solitary time out in nature….in some of the wilderness areas of northern New Hampshire. <3 It restores the soul.“
You don’t need to go hiking or camping (although those are great options!) as a 15-minute walk in nature causes measurable changes in your body including a 16% decrease in stress hormones and a 2% drop in blood pressure.In This Is Your Brain on Nature, National Geographic shares:
“When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor.”
Along with spending time in nature, you can also try meditation. There are many types of meditation but the easiest way to start is to just find ways to be quiet. Here’s one awesome way an Indivisible member is reclaiming her voice and growing stronger:
“I do a body-scan meditation while lying on my biomat. I take a walk on the beach barefoot and practice earthing. I sing.. I do laughing yoga. I try to forget my pain, my shell of a body and connect myself with the life energy around me. I ask my husband for a hug. And I help others find their voice as I reclaim the voice I let be silenced both by others and by myself— grow strong again. I turn my angst into some action that can move my pain and my collective pain forward. I clear my energetic body of negativity.”
Not sure about meditation? Learn a little from the meditation app Headspace:
Want more guidance? One member swears by Angel Cards App.
“I have the original angel cards app on my iPhone. When I feel the stress beginning to mount about Trump or anything, I select one and it creates a little bit of wisdom for me for how to think about what may be coming my way.”
It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you find some peace. Find some quiet space to just breathe and you’ll figure out what calls to you. Maybe it’s just walking in the woods, taking a nap (a personal favorite) or trying something like a crystal bowls concert.
There are Mika Brzezinski days when he insults someone, but it’s not life and death. Completely offensive but not necessarily a democracy ending day. Then there are days when our president acts like 4 year old with the nuclear codes:
“They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”
Yeah, that helps me sleep at night.
Some days it’s just too much. In fact, United States stress levels are the highest in 10 years. Not surprisingly, 72% of Democrats feel that politics is a significant source of stress. And the other 28% just aren’t paying attention.
Although it feels like there’s always something going on, taking a day off from Breaking News is a good idea.
“Take a day or two off from everything news related. Take action”
“Taking FB breaks so I can ignore 45’s face/voice/tweets and just breathe”
“I have to turn off CNN, stay off Twitter & try to do something I enjoy! Then I start to feel guilty cuz that’s what lots of people are doing so they don’t have deal w/Trump!”
Pat Fogg, from RESIST Central Maine, explains :
“We really need to take at least one day a week OFF..really OFF. No news at all. Read a book, play in the garden, sit in the sun. Yes, tequila works and wine also..I love to sit with a glass of wine ..listen to the loons serenade. Hmmm, I think that’s my plan right now. Take good care!”
So take a break when you need one. Take a few days to recharge and then jump back into the fray when you’re ready.
I got on a bus headed to Washington D.C. by myself. I didn’t have any friends but at no point was I lonely. I had hundreds of thousands of my brothers and sisters with me. When I got home, I asked my liberal friends if they wanted to create a group. A safe space where we could come together for support, guidance, and motivation.
I found my tribe. So have thousands of other Resisters around the country. It’s what gives us strength in times of stress:
“I reach out to my tribe. Talking with like-minded people helps me to feel less alone, validates my sanity, re-energizes me for the fight ahead.
“Commiserating with like-minded people gets me through the drama. And Rachel Maddow!”
“I work with strong, pissed-off girls who are causing a ruckus and not going to take this shit anymore.”
Again, Patricia Fogg has some great advice:
“As a retired psychotherapist, I strive to provide some of that for members of the group. In fact, being aware of that need is what motivated my joining Move-on and organizing our group.I would say that belonging to a group is a great way to dispel some of the negative energy and connect with like-minded people who become just like family. You have strong support and a safe place to vent your frustration. Very therapeutic! So, my advice is, join a compatible group or create one. Be well and stay strong.”
There are almost 6000 Indivisible groups in this country. If you’re not already a member, find one near you.
We have some really smart people in the Resistance. They know how to put things into perspective (and listen to their moms!):
“I call my mom and she reminds me how this is a speck of time in the whole of history.”
It may feel like this is the first time any country has dealt with a leader who was so divisive that they started an entire political movement. But it’s not. There have been horrible leaders throughout history. Instead of feeling stuck in the rhetoric of 2017, some members have turned to history for guidance.
Indivisible member, John Farina shares:
“I read a lot of American History. Times have been bad in this country, but, we as a people, always seem to come through it, and do the right thing. Take a break from the turmoil and read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. We will get through this.”
And he’s not alone. Lots of Indivisible members have found comfort from historical events:
“I listen to a lot of history podcasts. History is longer than we know. It shows a cruel world throughout. The Anglo-Saxons and Celtic periods are beyond brutal. Like you, I find it comforting that we have come so far despite such cruelty.”
“David McCullough’s award winning Truman is a good history story that reminded me how as much as things change they are the same.”
There are many amazing examples throughout history, not only in the United States but around the world. Learn about Nelson Mandela, Joshua Chamberlain, Elizabeth I, Malala Yousafzai or even JFK:
Of all the ways we are handling stress in the Trump era, perhaps taking action is the most satisfying. Action is the one thing that keeps me going. Psychology Today explains:
“The first rule of empowerment is focus. If we focus on what we cannot control, like other people’s opinions and behavior, we feel powerless. When we shift focus to what we can control, for example, our own behavior and the meaning of our experience, we feel empowered.”
Here’s how one Resistance member is taking action and getting involved:
“I’ll also be working on Get Out The Vote, joined local Dems group and went to a day long class by them. Educate myself on organizing etc to try and understand better. There is no end to the ways we can get involved, but stay centered and balanced too. Not overly engaged, nor under engaged. Action, positive and measurable.”
Jennifer Jones, from Suit Up Maine, shares:
“I feel much more energized and hopeful when I take charge and actively take on an issue. I also have a small core group of women that I meet with and they inspire and recharge me. I could not cope without having a group who is as passionate and distraught as I am. Curling up on the couch alone does not help me at all!”
Sarah Welch explains how she resists:
“Keeping faith in our democracy, praying that the Republicans find their spines, and resisting, revolting, and persisting. God Bless America, indeed. Silence is not an option.”
Kay Watson, also from Suit Up Maine, understands how action makes us feel:
“When I’m starting to feel defeated, I look to all we have accomplished. So often we focus on what we’ve lost but through this Resistance we have gained and prevented so much!!
We also have one member that has already run for a local office and won!
“I ran for local office and won my bid unopposed. I got more votes than the other two candidates combined who are Trump Republicans and ran for different local open seats.”
It’s always been my belief that we all have a role to play in this movement. Some will be loud, strong and relentless. Some will take on less public tasks but will still play an important part. And all of us will feel stressed, overwhelmed, scared, and angry some days.
But we will also be empowered, excited, motivated and fearless. It just depends on the day of the week.
There are many, many ways to handle the anxiety of living in the Trump era. Find what works for you and reach out for help when you need it. Because we have something very important to do and we need you.