Stress, Politics and Hope

I’m a therapist. And you want to believe that I therefore have it all togehter.

Or, would you rather know your therapist walks their own walk of wellness instead of thinking they are immune to the stress of being?

Here’s your invite to hop off if your disinclined to step through this truth door with me in order that you maintain your fantasy.

Therapy is my work, my passion, even my calling. And I am an eyes open to the world around me sentient being first and foremost, and with that comes stress. (I know, no duh).

The stress of politics, no matter your lens on the world (democracy-truth-justice or otherwise) takes its toll. I suppose if you are reading this, you can relate. I was inspired to write based an opinion piece by Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times. She shared her vulnerability and so I share mine.

Our brains were not designed to process the endless amount of (dis/mis)information we have access to, 24/7 on our phones and computers with social media and news. For more information on how social media affects your brain:https://neurogrow.com/what-social-media-does-to-your-brain/ and if you don’t want to read it: MODERATION is mandatory for brain health.

News of climate change. Unlivable cities. Dying birds. Fire. I know, enough! Let’s take a breath. Soften your face and your belly. Ground your feet or your bum whereever you find yourself. One more breath and onward to strategies to live well, despite how we find ourselves, here and now.

The hope (and not in an idealistic way, but in a way of showing up differently and that is ultimately in a gentle doing, sorry, no button pushing strategy).

Might you lock yourself out of your social media and news apps after a certain amount of time? I trust you to know what that amount of time is for you. (This is a sort of parenting yourself exercise).

Or completely disengage from certain social media apps- which app are you willing to say “enough” to? Tic Toc? Instagram? (I did this and so I speak from experience and I don’t regret this decision. I feel lighter.) Or, try a one day a week Sabbath log off. I promise you, you will survive this. Know that it will be difficult because these apps are addictive. More on apps and addiction: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-44640959

My friends-FOMO is a trick of the mind. Do Not Fall For It. Your answers are within. Not on the walls of facebook.

How we talk to ourselves matters. Rather than “I wonder what she is doing, thinking, saying…” Try this: “Right here and now, this information, (this post/this video) is NOT my business.” And/Or this: “Right here, right now, I am okay. Right here, Right now, I will find my answers in the quiet landscape of within”.

Our only action right now, is to take our next deep, diaphragmatic breath (yes bring your breath down to your belly. It matters. Shallow breathing keeps us nervous.)

How about a recitation of the serenity prayer. (“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”) Recite it again. (It’s easy to read it without reverence. Bring the message deep within for it to move things within you).

Give yourself a hug like it matters. (it does). Or hug a person or your pet. And pause there.

These actions are ways to come home to you. In the coming home to you, you can build health and resilience. In the quiet of you, you can find energy for action to help make our experience on this planet more balanced. But you must be that balance you seek first.

This place of quiet that we can create within, exists deep inside each of us. It can be harder for some of us to settle and tap in to this place because of trauma, and one needs to be safe now to create it. This place within is calmer than the noise outside. It is closer to the truth. It doesn’t mean what is outside is not truth (but remember, be social media and news sleuths as there is much dis and misinformation out there) but inward is the only control we have.

We can’t sustain our wellness on a constant flow of (scary) noise. We must quiet our minds and our bodies. Our nervous systems were not meant to stay on (in sympathetic arousal) or off (in too much parasympathetic tone or collapse). We must create the ease we need in our nervous systems. We must set a boundary on the world. Turn Off. Every day.

If you struggle to set boundaries for yourself (you can’t seem to log off or shut off), try logging back on (what you ask??? You just asked us to log off!!! It matters what you log back on to. It’s not all bad or all good. Find your place. Find your people. Block the rest! Block is the digital boundary) and find a restorative yoga class (check out Lasater Yoga for free monthly restorative yoga classes), or maybe it’s time to find a therapist (Psychology Today or Zencare.co), or a meditation app (Insight Timer or Calm) or check out this app for mental health: https://copenotes.com/

Last night hubby and I went to dinner with new friends who only have flip phones (yes, they still exist!)and who have a strict news diet (I don’t Know their specific intake, but it’s minimal). They are bright and delightful people. They write, go for long walks, create and listen to music, they care for their elderly cat and they spend time with loved ones.

I am not suggesting you throw away your $1000 phone. But our phones and the notifications that come along are part of our exhaustion. Turn off notifications. Silence your phone. Step out into the world of nature. This is your natural home. She wants us to connect with her.

I’m logging off now. How about you?

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