Self-care and moving forward.

With the inauguration of a man who is not my president, who does not and will never stand for me or any of the communities I belong to, right around the corner and drawing nearer, I think it’s important to talk for a minute about self-care. To talk about taking care of ourselves so that we can get through this, so that we can survive this, so that we can resist.

I know that many of my friends and other people I talk to on Twitter are talking about feeling hopeless.

Feeling anxious.

Feeling angry.

And at the same time, our daily lives don’t stop. We still have to go to work, we have to interact with other people, and we cannot just curl into an introspective ball. The policies that are threatened are too real for that.

What we can do, though, is take care of ourselves and be gentle with ourselves when we need it most. This can take many forms, which have been documented time and time again on the internet, but I thought I’d throw a few of them out here for everyone to take with you into your day. (If none of my suggestions strike a chord, do a Google search for self-care! There are a billion and one lists out there and one of them is bound to have something. Plus, the time spent looking at it is a few minutes spent not actively beating ourselves up.)

Curl up with a blanket and a hot drink. The comfort factor is real. A blanket (or two or three or four depending upon), and a warm cup of your favourite tea can help bring you into the moment and be grounded.

Take a bath or a hot shower. Wash away at least the current moment’s worries, and a hot bath or shower also helps to relax some of the tension that settles into our bodies and can cause physical pain.

Walk, hike, get outdoors. I know that this one isn’t possible for everyone due to varying physical health, but sometimes what helps most is a slight change of scenery and some fresh air. Anything from going outside to your porch, to going on a five hour or five day hike through nature. Our planet is important, and I use it as a reminder that we belong to the Earth and we are obligated to fight for her in whatever way that we can.

Do something on your to-do list. It sounds somewhat counterintuitive, but if I’m struggling with something else, I often find that I can take some pride and accomplishment in getting a lurking task from my to-do list done. Sometimes this is the dishes, or the laundry, sometimes it’s just putting something out to be mailed the next day. Whatever that task I get done, though, it’s no longer hanging over my head and adding to the black cloud of worry.

Ask for help. While it can be really very tempting to tough it out alone, we are stronger together.

It’s okay to ask for help, whether that means reaching out to your social media networks and asking for people to say some nice things to you, or whether that means calling a counselor or therapist or clergy member and setting up a time to sit down and talk. None of this invalidates the struggle that you are going through, nor does it make you weak.

And finally,

Be gentle to yourself, if you can. The negative voices are real, and they significant, and they are hard to deal with. And saying “be gentle to yourself” doesn’t magically make anxiety or depression go away or be less horrible. But find the little thing that makes a big difference to you, and do it.

Self-care and moving forward.

Existing in public.

So I was talking to my father this morning. We talked about account privacy and social media and such while we drank our morning coffee, for probably thirty or more minutes.

For me and my father, this is a pretty long conversation. Even more remarkable was that despite our disagreements the conversation remained civil for the entire time.

Social media is ubiquitous in today’s world. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+… Instagram, Snapchat, Vine… there are so many platforms. It’s easy for them to be overwhelming, and it can be hard to figure out where to establish a presence, or how much of a presence to actually establish.

I’ve typically approached this by keeping two Twitter accounts. (I have a Facebook as well, but only because there are some people I know who are only on Facebook.) One is private, one is public. The public one I use to interact with hashtags and big issues, and as my own personal miniature soapbox. The private one I use to talk to close friends, coordinate dinner plans, talk about work and other things which I just don’t want to be in the public eye. And then in between that, I have an Instagram account (which was what started the entire conversation, in fact). I used to put pictures either just on web space, or on Twitter, but this didn’t solve the problem of being able to share the pictures with other people who aren’t on that account. So I made an Instagram account, left it public, and it’s served me pretty well so far.

My father joined Instagram recently as well, and while I’ve gotten to the point where I’m rather blasé about all the public sharing, he really… isn’t. His account isn’t public, and it probably never will be, and I respect that. The idea that I have pictures out there with location tags freaks him out a little bit, and he just doesn’t understand why I would leave the photos out there for the world to see. But at this point, I exist in public.

When I’m at work (driving a city bus), I’m existing in public. It’s not too much of a stretch from that for me, to having pictures where anyone can access them. I’m still careful with what I share on the internet and where I share it— I heard too many cautionary tales when I was a teenager to not be careful. But if someone was going to stalk me, there’s a lot better ways to go about it than using my Instagram account.

Existing in public.