The Resistance is on with a ban on refugees, international students, and a case-by-case ban for green card holders from seven predominantly Islamic nations; a gag order on the USDA and EPA; the repeal of the ACA; telling the press to “keep its mouth shut;” reviving the Keystone and DAPL. These are some of the terrible orders that Trump and his minions (or puppeteers?) have issued since the inauguration, barely two weeks ago. If you are as angry and determined as I am to resist and fight these orders and to show solidarity with those affected by them, you are likely in a frenzy of activism right now.
Protesting, reading article after article about the newest round of executive orders, and calling up elected officials seems to be the only thing you do on your free time. But constantly doing that can be overwhelming, draining, and can actually set you back. So how do you keep calm and resist?
But let me first be upfront with you all. Being a consistently engaged activist is new to me, of which I am ashamed. I have not used my white privilege to help marginalized groups. I’ve been a quiet, softcore activist for over a decade: protesting the Ringling Circus as a teenager, writing to Congress in college, signing online petitions and emails to representatives, and donating to multiple organizations that do work I believe in. But it wasn’t until an act of terror happened inside of a nightclub in my hometown which called me to be a strong voice. The attack on the LGBTQ community in Orlando woke me up. I realized that as a cisgender straight white female, I have privilege that millions of others do not, and I need to use that privilege to help others. I began to attend rallies, and consistently call and write representatives. Then came the 2016 elections, and with it the atrocity of Donald Trump. Now, I’m rightfully pissed. I’m ready to channel my inner Princess Leia and Minerva McGonagall to the full extent in order to Resist.
Unless you have been an activist long term, you may not know how to deal with the continuous calls to action. Here are a few tips with some input by longstanding justice warriors, on how to stop feeling overwhelmed and keeping a sane mind, all while still resisting and fighting the fight.
1. Take A Break
This is perhaps the most important tip on here. Take a break from the news. Take a break from social media. Whether this break is for half a day, a full day, a week, do it. Even if it is just for a moment this is important, as Anna Eskamani says. Eskamani, a Regional Manager of Florida Planned Parenthood and board member with the League of Women Voters of Florida says, “When in the midst of chaos, it’s important to take a mental break—even just for a minute—to check in with yourself.”
Maybe even make every Wednesday no news or social media day. Maria Bolton-Joubert, a Central Florida advocate and artist who was arrested during a peaceful demonstration against gun violence says, “If you’re getting burned out, take a step or two back. Go on vacay (and) unplug.” You won’t really be missing anything, as the cause will still be there when you get back.
2. Stay (Physically) Active
As Reese Witherspoon said in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” If you are feeling particularly sad or angry, run out your anger, or do some yoga to lift your spirits. Not only will you get some happy endorphins and clear your head, but you’ll be sticking to your regular workout routine, helping to maintain a healthy body.
3. Start Seeing A Therapist
This is especially true if you are working with people directly affected by Trump’s new policies. Or if you are witnessing first hand how these changes are affecting lives. As an activist, you are now carrying some of the hardships that marginalized groups are facing. It is important for both yourself and for those who you are helping to be mentally healthy. If your health insurance doesn’t cover therapy, and you cannot afford it, make sure you do have someone who you love and trust that you can talk your worries and concerns over with.
4. You Don’t Have To Do It All…
You don’t have to fight for every cause and for everyone. Fight for the cause or causes that you hold most dear to your heart, or that you identify with. Don’t drain yourself by trying to put all of your energy in everything that needs help. It’s more effective to concentrate your time and devotion to just a couple of causes. Let your passion drive you. Neither do you have to go to every protest or rally. Don’t think that every weekend has to be full of you going out and demonstrating. Make sure you still have days and times where you do something fun (see below).
…Or On Your Own
Another justice warrior who prefers to remain anonymous due to possible conflict of interest, says that “it takes a village.” Work with, and surround yourself with fellow activists. You will become heartened that people are fighting the same fight as you are. The activists you meet and work with will become a second family to you, and a constant source of inspiration and hope. Filled with empathy in their hearts, they will be your support system when it all feels like too much.
5. Still Do You
Hang with friends and talk about something other than Trump and your activism. Make time to see a movie, to go out dancing. Binge on Netflix, take a hike with your dog, go to the beach. Cook or bake something. Read a book or knit. Do the things that make you you, and that bring you joy. Don’t let fun things be disregarded, as they are fundamental to your happiness.
6. And Seek Out Things That Are Ridiculously Cute And Funny
BuzzFeed quizzes. Cute animals videos. Going to the dog park. Whatever it is, intentionally spend 7 Ways To Keep Calm And Fight On Against Trump (And Stay Sane)some time doing something or with something that is innocent and lighthearted. As I’m writing this, a video of Winnie the Pooh dancing is trending on Facebook. This in itself is indicative of how we all crave a little bit of childlike silliness.
7. Assign Specific Days And Times For Action
Depending on your schedule and lifestyle, it may be a good idea to set a certain day aside as your action day. You can still go to rallies whenever, but maybe you decide that every Thursday you make a call to each of your senators, and a call to your congressperson, expressing whatever it is you want to express that week. To make the calls go by more quickly, save their numbers (both the D.C. and local office) in your phone. You can also make one night a week the night you write letters to your representatives. Maybe even open a bottle of wine and invite friends over to make a party out of it.
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