COPING WITH DISTURBING FEELINGS UNDER TRUMP
Sally Rudoy, LCSW
1) Control how and when you get your news.
Some people just cannot look at news during dark times. Others cannot look away. If you’re the kind of person who needs to stay current then limit your news intake. Here are some suggestions.
• Don’t keep checking your news feeds. Do not follow every tweet. You are re-traumatizing a wound. Limit how frequently you check the news. Choose one or two times a day to catch up.
• Change how you get your news. For example, If you mostly get your news from tv perhaps switch to radio or podcasts or written articles. Sometimes images of the offending people/situations can be upsetting.
• Turn off your digital devices at least one hour before bedtime. Do something that settles you down before sleep. For example, read fiction, take a bath, listen to music, or connect with a go-to person.
2) Don’t be alone with your grief.
Talk to the people you trust and who make you feel secure such as partners, family members, friends, clergy, or teachers. It can reassure you that there are good people in the world and that many likeminded souls are going through this difficult time as well. Sometimes a conversation with an older people who has seen many administrations come and go can help put this time in a historical perspective. You are not alone
3) Monitor your food, alcohol, and other substances intake.
Are you turning to these substances for comfort or self-medication? Substitute the impulse to imbibe with healthier or fun self care activities. Some suggestions that have helped others include yoga, massage, dance, movie-attendance, art, or rereading Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. (Currently, I have been binge watching a BBC series based on a 19th century English novel. Happily, the available weapons of mass destruction do not get more bloody than an occasional bayonet or cannon.) It may feel like the world is falling apart. Even so you are permitted one hour a day to do something that soothes you. It’s important to replenish yourself in order to take on the rest of the day or, if you are an activist, to take on the battles ahead.
4) To deal with a sense of powerlessness take action.
The weekend after the executive order ban was issued resistance and protest had an impact. The protesters and lawyers who went to airports influenced the administration to walk back aspects of the green card portion of the ban. Find some organization that is fighting for the causes you believe in: donate, protest, write letters, and call representatives.
5) Listen to Krista Tippett’s ON BEING interview with Congressman John Lewis
In this uplifting interview,Congressman Lewis talks about the early days of the civil rights movement and how it created a non-violent revolution. He shares wisdom from Gandhi and Martin Luther King as well as his belief in the power of resistance and love to change society.
6) What to do if your feelings of depression and anxiety persist
If none of the above works and after a few weeks you are still upset you should seek professional help. You’ll know this is more than a passing phase if you are experiencing:
• Changes in your sleeping and eating behaviors (too much or too little)
• Trouble concentrating
• Lack of enjoyment in previously enjoyed activities
• Feeling sluggish and sapped of energy despite lots of sleep
• Persistent guilty and troubling thoughts or feelings of worthlessness.
If you have any of these symptoms you should see a mental health counselor soon.
If you are feeling desperate or having suicidal thoughts, you need to call 911 or go to your nearest emergency hospital room immediately.