My heart hurts. It hurts for the suffering in the world. It hurts for the way we’re treating one another. It hurts for people who desperately want to escape dangerous and war-torn places. It hurts for those injured or killed by terrorists on our land and elsewhere. It hurts for the awful way we’re speaking to each other on Facebook, Twitter, and in online comments all over the internet.
It’s natural to seek out justification and validation for the feelings you’re experiencing. It’s what you do when you deal with emotions that feel crappy. If you can shout about them, even virtually, then maybe you won’t feel so out of control.
Posting and sharing content can also help you feel less alone. As you sit there and struggle with what to do with what you’re feeling, it can feel less isolating if you can get a “like” or an agreeable comment on a post that supports your perspective. I’ve certainly done that. I’ve felt like I’m going crazy; like no one else seems to be affected by certain situations as I am, so I post or share something to both express my feelings but also to test the waters and see who else feels the same.
It’s easy to feel helpless and hopeless. It’s easy, out of fear, sadness, frustration, and anger to post and re-post memes, stories, and pictures online without pausing to think if doing so is helping or hurting the situation. Or if the information is even accurate.
As I look back over the last couple of weeks, the online conversations that have helped me the most are ones where I’ve had a charge-neutral dialogue with someone about varying viewpoints instead of a heated tennis match of trying to convince each other that our opinion is the right one. In this charged political climate, it can be difficult to do, but when we listen to each other from a place of learning, so much healing can take place.
With the United States being more divided than ever before, one great thing that has come from all of this is the number of people rising up, educating themselves on issues, and speaking out for what they believe in, no matter what side they’re on. This is something that has been lacking for a long time, and while it’s unfortunate that it took a nasty election cycle to wake people up, at least it has happened.
So here are my tips for maintaining your sanity and taking care of your heart during these trying political times:
- Clear clutter from your social media accounts. Unfollow those whose goal is simply to be inflammatory.
- Before you share or re-post anything, confirm its validity to the best of your ability.
- When commenting on others’ posts, ask yourself if you are engaging in healthy dialogue or if you’re just yelling, virtually.
- Find out who your representatives are and have their phone numbers handy for when you want to share your thoughts on any matter.
- Turn off the news. Instead of giving your power to media outlets, decide for yourself how to be informed and when. This isn’t about burying your head in the sand. It’s about saving yourself from information overload so you can continue to be a force for good.
- Spend less time on social media altogether. Maybe choose a cutoff time, such as after dinner.
- Go for walks in nature.
- Use a journal as a place to empty your mind and dump out your feelings. It’s hard to think clearly when your brain is being used as a container instead of a computer.
- Meditate, even if only for 10 minutes.
- Get plenty of sleep. Take naps if possible. Trying times can zap your energy quickly and you may feel tired more often than usual.
As the saying goes, “change starts at home.” What can you do, today, to take really good care of yourself? How can you engage more productively in conversations about world topics? How can you intentionally connect more with people each and every day, even if it means simply offering smiles to strangers. Combine some of these actions with the tips above and I guarantee you’ll feel better in no time.