Floods in South Asia, hurricanes in the Atlantic, and nuclear war with North Korea looming in the distance, sometimes it feels like it’s the beginning of an apocalypse. Every week in America, it feels like a game show called, “Who Will This Administration Screw Over Today” and I’m the contestant biting my nails wondering, “what is happening?” Last month, it was transgender people, this month it’s immigrants. Scrolling through headlines, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of doom. Nazis are on the loose. The West Coast is on fire. You get the picture.
While that isn’t true, we aren’t all going to die, or at least we don’t entirely know that we are going to all die just yet, sensationalized news headlines tend to make me question that. I’ll spend maybe an hour or two (yes I have a problem,) scrolling through my Facebook feed, reading posts and getting into arguments in the comments section and I’ll realize, “Wow, I feel terrible right now and I’ve been feeling terrible this whole time.” I don’t know what to do or what I even can do and I feel guilty that the most I’m doing is posting memes about it all. I don’t even know what I can do.
However, there’s one thing that I’ve thought about and it’s that there isn’t really anything that I can do about most of the things that are going in with the world right now. If North Korea decided to drop nuclear weapons on us right now, there is absolutely nothing I could do to prevent it. If a giant hurricane destroyed all of Florida, I wouldn’t be able to do anything to stop it. And as far as the administration, I can’t change any decisions Trump makes because he literally doesn’t care about anyone, but himself and the most I can do is protest and protect the people I love. Everything else is out of my power. While that might make things a little bit scarier because I am powerless, it does remove a little of the guilt and pressure to do something about it.
Lately, I’ve been trying to stay off of social media as much as possible. I’ve been trying to monitor myself and keep my mental well being in check. If I feel too anxious or stressed or depressed by the conversations I’m having or the posts I’m reading, I distract myself. I find something else to do, whether it be creative or educational or positive. Whether it be reading a book or playing guitar or putting on makeup. I find something to calm myself down.
I think it’s important to be active politically and to pay attention, but if you’re like me and you get overwhelmed by everything that is going on, then you need to take time off from the world and pay attention to yourself. There is nothing selfish about making yourself a priority when your mental and physical well being might be at stake.
I understand some people feel that being able to take time away from political activism to practice self care is a sign of privilege and shouldn't be encourage and so on. I've seen this mostly in response to Tina Fey's video of her eating a sheet of cake asking people to stay out of anti fascist protests. While I disagree with encouraging everyone to not go out and protest, I think that it's fine to not engage if you are worried about the impact it will have on your mental health. Oh, and please don't pretend that people of color, and LGBT persons don't need to take time off of being politically engaged too.
So, next time you’re on Facebook or some other social media website and you can feel yourself growing frustrated or angry or anxious, disengage and stay off for a while. You are not a horrible person for caring about yourself. Find something you like that makes you happy and distract yourself with it, because even if the world does end, at least you gave yourself the time to feel better.