Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr
If you, like me, are experiencing daily emotional trauma over the state of politics and what Trump is doing to our country (aka Trump Trauma), here are 10 simple, practical things you can do to help alleviate the stress or transform it into something positive:
1. Remember that you are not alone, and that the vast majority of Americans do not endorse the President’s views or condone his behavior. It’s true: 73 percent of Americans did NOT vote for Trump (he only got 27 percent of the eligible voters). You are not living in a “progressive bubble.” Truth always wins out in the end, and those that fell for his lies and false promises eventually will be confronted with truth. When the results of his actions hit home, even people who are normally partisan come back to reality: Protectionist tariffs on Mexico destroy American manufacturing jobs. Repealing Obamacare will rip health care away from 20 million mostly lower-income citizens, more than half of whom are Republican. And no parent is okay when their child’s water and food are poisoned. The list of his destructive policies will touch every single American. Yeah, it’s gonna suck for a while, but sometimes it takes an attack on what we value to make us remember what works and what we value.
2. Connect. Reach out. Talk. You choose: Adversity can either make us feel alone or it can be a catalyst for unity. Think about when you have joined a common cause in the past. How did it make you feel? Find your tribe and be real with them.
3. Meditate. I know… how trite for a yogi to say that. But our minds can be wild animals, and when they get hyperactive with fear, they tend make us suffer (anybody else awake at 3 am?). When we are in suffering, we tend to spread that around in the form of bad behavior ourselves… which just perpetuates the cycle.
4. Shake it out. Move your body, however you like to do it. Go to yoga, dance, rock climb, run, ski, chop wood, but do a somatic (physical) practice regularly. Stress accumulates in the body. Physical activity helps to release it, so like meditation, we can calm down and deal with the present moment from a centered place.
5. Study history and civics. I know, that sounds boring. But it’s not. History is colorful and just as dramatic as our current event. Or just watch re-runs of The West Wing. My wife and I have been doing that on Amazon for the last two months and it’s totally addicting (best TV show ever!). Remarkably, the issues are still 100% current. Remember that the pendulum never stops swinging. We have had dark days in our past. And they will happen again in the future. Yeah, they are going to cause some real damage over the next four years, but we will survive and this too will pass.
6. Get involved. If you went to the Women’s March, you probably know that it felt great to take action in a giant, supportive group. There are so many ways to be involved. Write a letter or an op-ed. Donate to Democratic party candidates, Planned Parenthood or critical watchdog groups like the ACLU. Run for office yourself. Our democracy still works. Action generates results. Find the access point that works for you (your resources, interests, and schedule). Support your local elected officials. The mid-term election races are starting now. Let’s take back Congress. In 2014 in Colorado, Republican Cory Gardner beat the terrific incumbent Mark Udall by only a handful of percentage points. That would have been the one Senator we needed to stop all these horrible cabinet appointees. Local elections can have giant national results.
7. Be prepared for the long haul. Last week Bannon said that he’s confident that they will win because we’ll get “protest fatigue.” It could happen. Don’t let it. Pace yourself. You don’t need to go to every event or take every action. Nourish yourself like a marathoner, so you can stay involved for as long as it takes.
8. Support the media. The fourth estate is democracy’s final line of defense against dictatorship. Protect them like your freedom depends upon them. Subscribe to the most professional investigative journalism you can find (NYT, CNN, NPR, Frontline).
9. Check your facts. Yup. Trump and the GOP are running the greatest war on truth and fact in all of America history. But I have also been guilty of “liking” or even forwarding articles on Facebook, when I haven’t verified the facts stated in them. I know – we’re all very busy and don’t have time to fact-check everything that comes across our screens. But unless we want to be hypocrites, we need to be the ones that have the unequivocal lock on FACTS and TRUTH.
10. Respectfully call people out on FACTS. Once you’ve got your facts straight, the greatest weapon we have is the truth. Listen to opposing viewpoints and media sources. Seek them out actually. But don’t let your friends, family or anyone else bully you into accepting “alternate facts.” There ain’t no such thing. When I have had respectful conversations with Trump supporters about the facts, they are often willing to listen and are surprised at the information. If you got all your information from FOX news and Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, you’d probably have a pretty messed up perspective on what we should do too. Lastly, remember to be humble. Trump actually issued an executive order last week that prevents government officials from coming back and becoming lobbyists. That’s good thing. We don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. And like the yin/yang symbol, the light contains darkness and darkness contains light.