A word on wellness:
I've had a difficult time deciding how to approach this holiday newsletter. I would be remiss not to acknowledge that a lot of people are not "fine" right now - including myself. And yet, reflection over the past month has made me even more thankful than usual for everything I have. So, in lieu of the political opinion piece I'm tempted to write, I've decided to offer some tips for getting through the holidays and some good cheer...
If the election results are causing you to feel confused, scared and uncertain, you are not alone. That, combined with anxiety about seeing family with different political views, is making this holiday season an uneasy time for many. If you are reading this and you are someone who is struggling, here are a couple of tips:
1. Monitor your social media/internet time: I am definitely guilty of seeking out as much news as possible, often in the hopes that it will help minimize anxiety. Most of the time it has the opposite effect. In the past month I have definitely had to check myself and limit my time online to one check a day --- and not before bed, please!
2. Find a buddy (hint- this may not be a family member): If you know the holidays might be rough, find a buddy you can remain in contact with throughout the month, or while you're away visiting relatives. Make a pact ahead of time to support each other. This is a helpful strategy in the long run as well, not just this month. I have definitely identified a group of people I can reach out to when it all feels overwhelming. It's so nice to connect with others who feel similarly.
3. Embrace community: Whether this is church, a group of classmates, friends, family, your dodge ball team etc... be among your support network! A major symptom of a lot of mental health struggles is isolation. When you feel tempted to isolate, reach out and be among your community.
4. Check yourself before having difficult conversations: It is perfectly acceptable to have boundaries around political conversations. If you aren't up for the conversation, excuse yourself or ask for it to be tabled. Check in with yourself... Is my blood pressure through the roof? Am I unable to see this person for the loved one that they are in this moment? If you feel yourself getting too angry or upset, step out and get some air. I know a lot of people, myself included, feel that these conversations need to happen. But it's alright for you to be choosy about when it's the best time to engage.
5. Ask for help: Many people are experiencing mild depression and anxiety right now. If this is impacting the rest of your life (i.e. you can't get up for work, you're tearful, not sleeping, abusing alcohol/drugs...) or exacerbating existing mental health issues, then it may be time to get help. Help can come in many forms, but if you're interested in therapy, and live in the Bay Area, I'll tell you right now... I am excellent at match making. Send me an email and I can help connect you to someone! You can also search Psychology Today by location, insurance and issues to find a therapist. I recommend this clinic in San Francisco as well.
[The day after the election, a family member called me to see how I was doing. This is a loved one I generally do not see eye to eye with, when it comes to politics. I saw the call coming in and thought "here we go..." Imagine my surprise, when this person avoided all talk of politics, and wanted to know how I was doing specifically. How was I feeling? Did I have plans to see people this evening? Was I able to get through the workday? This person knew I would be upset and reached out to respond to my emotions. It didn't matter that we didn't agree. This person has continued to check in with me over the past couple of weeks. We have not had a political conversation at this point, but I feel more ready to have that conversation than I ever thought I could be, because we have both been able to see each other for more than just the political parties we tend towards. I believe that an honest, constructive conversation can take place now because the ground has been laid with love and respect. This act is the clearest example I've encountered of bridging the mind boggling divide we see in our country. Maybe, just maybe, after we tend to the soul of other humans, we can begin the difficult conversations we will all need to have in the coming months and years. The hope being that we can move forward to these conversations from a place of compassion and openness, instead of separateness and anger...]
I want to wish everyone a wonderful December. I hope this month is filled with as much peace and love as ever. Even if it may take more effort, I'm confident that this year especially, we can be grateful for what we have and hold our loved ones close.
Something to Watch:
If you haven't seen Moonlight yet, please do. I'm still processing it - I sobbed throughout the whole movie. This masterpiece gives insight into the beauty, struggle, resilience and complexity of the main character's life. It's required viewing as far as I'm concerned.
Something to Read:
Check out my thoughts from December 2015 on New Years Resolutions.
San Francisco Fire Fighters Toy Program is the nation's oldest program of it's kind. Their website is a little jumbly, but check it out to see how you might give back this holiday season by donating toys for children in need.
Crisis Text Line has seen their volume double since election day. They are desperately in need of compassionate volunteers to interface with people in crisis.