Some ideas for coping in a post-election world

A photo I took at a vigil in Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn last weekend

A vigil in Fort Greene last weekend

Here is a formula for staying sane that is working for me (for a whole three days so far!), so I thought I’d share it in case it helps you, too.

1. Self-care

It feels indulgent right now, and I feel guilty to think about it, and yet, when I ignore it — when I keep myself in a state of permanent crisis, trolling Facebook and the news — I become a wreck. And when I’m a wreck, I’m not only miserable, I’m also useless.

In the first few days after the election, meditating felt like a joke. Journaling felt irrelevant. But in the days since then I’m slowly coming back into these habits, as well as limiting my media diet SIGNIFICANTLY.

My plan is to re-subscribe to The Week, a wonderful magazine that curates the news of the week from key sources like the New York Times, The Economist, etc. Rather than deal with a constant barrage of horrible news I will create time and space weekly to absorb and process. In this way, I’ll stay informed (I won’t be putting my head in the sand) in a way that will hopefully keep me from existing permanently in the fetal position.

2. Small acts of generosity and kindness

On Sunday I baked muffins for hungry people. It was the best I’ve felt in a week. It doesn’t solve the systemic issues we need to solve but damn if it didn’t feel good, and putting food in a few hungry people’s mouths is really fucking important. I don’t want to be off to the side pontificating on the future at the expense of people all around me who are in need.

3. Listening

I’m also making it a priority to pay a whole lot more attention to the self-expression of those who are not middle-aged liberal white women in a certain income bracket. Several friends have pointed out that as we white liberal women begin feeling oppressed in new and potent ways we ought to be mindful that others have been far more oppressed for far longer and seek to more deeply understand what it must feel like in their shoes. Simply put, I don’t want to be an asshole. And I want to better understand my privilege at the same time that I grieve for how far we have to go in keeping women and girls safe in this world, let alone providing them with equal opportunities.

4. Forming a bigger strategy

I’m still not sure what big strategy (or series of strategies) I want to get behind to help reshape this country so that we never end up in a place like this again. Given my background in media and the extent to which media shapes our reality, I’m inclined to consider strategies in that arena, but part of me also just wants to go work for the ACLU, or commit myself to ending the electoral college.

I’m not sure where I will put my energies but I don’t think small acts of generosity and kindness, or listening and love, are enough in the face of this atrocity. It’s a bit anathema for me to say that; the yogic part of me wants to say love is always enough, that it is everything. But I think we need a combination of love and serious, well-considered strategy in this moment. Either on its own will not be enough.

So every day I spend some time reading about how others are responding and thinking about what my “move” is going to be. I don’t want to be overly precious and stew forever but I also don’t want to act just to act.. I want to commit to something in a serious way. In the meantime… see #s 1-3 above.

So, this is my game plan for now. I share it with you in case it helps you figure out anything about how you want to function in this moment. Tell me: What, if anything, is helping you stay sane?


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