Self-Care for Dystopian Times
I’m not doing so well this week. I wouldn’t say I’m depressed (this is situational) but my mood is low and my nervous system is overwhelmed because of our constitutional crisis and SCOTUS overturning Roe v Wade.
We knew this decision was coming, but it still registered in my body as shock.
I think that’s because this is bigger than just Roe. This feels like the beginning of a very, very dark time. They’re not going to stop here — more rights will be taken from us and Democracy itself is on the chopping block.
Jon Swaine @jonswaineJustice Thomas: "[W]e should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell." https://t.co/CvWypeIYi5
So while I knew this was coming, it felt a bit abstract until now. I haven’t been able to really think about much else. I’m having trouble focusing and my brain is foggy. When I feel this way, I know it’s because my nervous system has been dysregulated. It makes it hard to function well and show up in my life because almost all of my energy is being consumed by overwhelm.
In case you’re feeling it too, I thought I’d share how I get through times like these: How I care for myself when the world is dark all around me; How I care for myself when I’m overwhelmed, when my mood is low, and when I feel hopeless or disempowered.
And this is important because no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, life in America is only going to get worse before it gets better. And we still need to find a way to keep our center. We can’t resist or fight back if we’re all just walloped.
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Here are 5 ways I care for myself in times like these.
Feel the feelings and give yourself time to process what’s happening. If you don’t give yourself time to process the feeling, it will get stuck in your body and your mind, which only prolongs the process. For me, that means I need to give myself extra space to journal, vent to friends, or cry so the feeling doesn’t keep hanging around me in the long run. In times like these, it can be tempting to check out, zone out, get drunk, and dissociate. And sometimes we need a little bit of a break from feeling heavy, I get it. But make sure you’re not checking out so much that you don’t give yourself time to feel at all.
Focus on only completing the highest priority tasks. Take everything that’s not essential off your plate so you can rest. On the days when your mental health is bad or your physical energy is low, you need to create space for yourself and rest. Don’t beat yourself about productivity — remember that’s capitalist brainwashing. If you need a break, take a break…don’t make the break take you. 💡 A bonus tip for the future: consider getting ahead of your work when you have the energy to do so. For example, I am starting to “batch create” content when I feel good so that I can still post even when I’m low on energy.
Communicate with the people in your life & let them know you need extra time or support. Let your co-workers or clients know that you’re not feeling well and need extra time to get things done. Take a sick day if you need to. And let your friends & family support you. I’ve been talking & texting with friends and my mom this week just to process and vent and it’s been so helpful. And for me, when I get in my depressies, I want to stay home and not go out. If that’s you, just let your friends know that you need to be scarce for a little while. At this point, I feel like we all get it.
Practice acceptance. When it comes to world events, so much of this is out of our control. When external events that are out of your control are happening around you, you have to accept those circumstances on some level. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t resist or try to fight back. This isn’t about surrender. But it is about knowing what you as an individual can control, and what you can’t. And it’s about managing your energy for the outcomes you CAN effect. When I have to live through a hard season, I always tell myself “there can be no spring without winter.” There is a season for everything in life, which means we will all undoubtedly experience seasons of suffering. We can sit there and pout about the fact that we are in Winter and let that consume all our energy. Or we could accept Winter knowing that Spring is coming. We could learn to become comfortable in the uncomfortable. We can find a level of peace in any circumstance. Or else, we just make it infinitely worse for ourselves. To do this, I try to spend time focusing on what I do have and what I’m grateful for. Or I get hyper-present in the moment to remind myself that in this moment I am safe.
Don’t drop your self-care. Depending on your energy level or individual mood, self-care can be really challenging when you’re depressed or dysregulated. There were times when I would go several days without showering or moving my body. But this only makes things worse. Even if your energy is low, try completing at least one self-care activity. If you’re super depressed, maybe that’s just a shower and changing your clothes. Right now, I am focusing on moving my body at least once a day, even if all I can do is walk. Just pick at least one activity, one that you know will make the most difference to your mood, and commit to it.
More than anything in this time, give yourself grace. And understand that it’s okay to rest when you need to because this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
What do you do to take care of yourself when your mood is low? Let me know in the comments below.