The trendy term “self care” irritates me the same way other trendy terms tend to irritate me, but it’s actually a good phrase and good advice.
I had two days off from work this week due to the snow, and I could have spent that time glued to the news, scanning Twitter for the latest Trumpian outrages (I can’t even keep up with them anymore), and making myself angry, depressed, and scared.
For a year I have struggled with retriggered C-PTSD because of this president and his abuse of vulnerable Americans, which includes myself because I am not rich or conservative.
I could have worked myself up into a righteous tizzy and returned to work feeling exhausted instead of refreshed.
But instead, I took a moratorium from the news and from the Internet. Reading my Kindle copy of “Fire and Fury” (I’m almost done) was about the extent of my politics-related activities. I cleaned my house (really well for a change) , organized a couple of closets, and actually cooked. I spent time catching up with friends on Facebook and reading funny or inspiring websites, and watching funny animal videos. I watched part of a “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” marathon, and even walked in the snow. I read one of the novels in the list of books I posted the other day, and was actually able to concentrate on the plot. I’m almost finished with it now.
I have to admit I felt a twinge of guilt for burying my head in the sand and choosing not to follow the news for a couple of days. I’ve always believed if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, but taking mental health breaks from all the chaos coming from the White House doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the dangers and becoming complacent and complicit. It means you are a human being and need time to take care of yourself. If you’re active in the resistance, whether as an actual activist, or just protesting online, you’re not going to be any good to anyone if you’re depressed, deflated, apathetic, terrified, or unhealthily enraged. All you’ll be able to do is spread negativity instead of inspiration and ideas.
So it’s absolutely imperative, especially if you suffer from PTSD, C-PTSD or a depressive disorder, to give yourself breaks from all the chaos and negative politics and take care of yourself. It’s still possible to enjoy the simple things in life and even have fun, yes, even in the darkest times. I can’t help but think of Anne Frank, a young girl confined in a German concentration camp, but she never let that reality break her spirit. She was still a happy, positive person who spread joy and hope to others, even knowing she and her family were going to die. Even today, her legacy still inspires others.
After my two days off spent staying away from politics and the news, I actually felt refreshed and ready to fight again. So don’t feel guilty if you need to take breaks to concentrate on yourself, your friends or family. Spend time doing things you like or that relax you — listening to music, watching a funny movie, meditating, praying, doing Yoga, reading a novel, cooking or baking, or spending time in nature (nothing is more healing than nature, if that’s your thing). You are not abandoning your ideals or becoming complacent. You are just refueling.