If you are highly sensitive to human plight as I am then you may also be feeling drained by the political duress that is unfolding around us. Being frequently bombarded with images and sound bites of discrimination makes one feel weary considering that we are barely out of the gates with this U.S. administration. Furthermore, our frustration grows as we are geographically removed from the situation and feel helpless about how to affect change. Amidst the chaos, the growing groups of diverse individuals united in their protest for justice reminds us that empathy and love will always be the solution to fear. Therefore, it is important to recognize that our own tension about these matters has the potential to further polarize us. The emotional strain of social turmoil fosters a negative outlook that can also manifests as fear. It may seem idealistic but I believe that (especially for those of us with limited political outlet) we must find ways to periodically decompress from the emotional burden of chaos in order to preserve our capacity to love and remain part of the solution. Here are a few practices that I have found to be useful in restoring my positive energy flow after processing continuous streams of inequality.
1.) Find a distraction.
Its easy to feel stressed about our inability to impact injustice but we can redirect our mental capacity to something else, which allows an influx of positive energy. Traditionally meditation, which quiets the mind is deemed as an effective means to restore calm, however this can be a difficult practice for some of us while we are emotionally tense. Rather I found that engaging in an activity that requires my full attention and mental concentration to be the easiest way to alter my thoughts and subsequently my emotions. Distraction works best when it involves an activity that demands our focus so it helps if it is something that we are not completely proficient at. I recently chose to make a more advanced coconut curry recipe from my cookbook, which had me reading certain lines of directions several times before I understood the preparation sequence. Its difficult to ‘fully’ concentrate on several things at once and I noted an instantaneous change in my energy ; I highly encourage you to take a break from the media and engage in an activity that distracts your mind.
2.) Spend time with people in ‘real life’.
Let’s not forget that social media is not entirely social since scrolling through stories and images on our timelines doesn’t afford us the same human interaction as engaging with people in real life. The emotional exchange that occurs as we embrace others in actual situations enhances our mood more significantly than reading and liking stories on our newsfeed. During my mommy group play dates, where the most important thing is remembering the words to little bunny foo foo and clapping in tune, I have an opportunity to engage with people at their best. This type of interaction offsets the harmful tone of what is happening around us. Give yourself permission to forget about the strife in the world and connect with people you care about without any distractions. The chaos will not be made worse by your periodic absence from social media, rather you’ll be refreshed and may gain a greater threshold of tolerance.
3.) Release physical energy
Walk, hike, run, swim, dance, lift weights, regardless the level of intensity, physical activity is a great way to release tension. Exercise relieves pent up energy so it’s benefits are comparable to engaging in an activity for distraction. More so, physical activity increases our bodies production of endorphins, which helps to reduce stress and aid in relaxation. Better yet, you could invite a friend to participate in an activity with you and reap the added advantages of being with people in real life. I felt exhilarated after a little session of a Tabata work out this morning and it set a uplifting tone for the rest of my day.
4.) Take favourable political action
It may seem surprising to see this point in a list of activities that is intended to remove us from the tension, however much of our frustration stems from our perceived sense of helplessness about issues of inequality. We can regain a sense of empowerment by engaging in some favourable political action regardless of it’s magnitude. Donate to organizations that are challenging injustice/religious discrimination legally and through advocacy. Boycott services, products or companies that are supported by the proponents of injustice. And of course, if your lifestyle permits and you are geographically able, participate in demonstrations that are building the momentum for equality. Your political action gives you a sense of resolve because it encompasses your personally stance on the issue.
I’m sure that one could easily think of many more activities to release the tension that many of us are experiencing lately but I chose to highlight a few that offered me immediate results. The key is to consciously set aside time to unplug and take care of our mental and emotional well being. I would love to hear about some of the rituals or activities, which you find useful in escaping chaos and restoring peacefulness.
“Steeping joy, brewed with all that life has to offer”.