How Activists Can Stay Healthy and Sane

Women’s March in Washington, DC, 2017

In the first month of 2017, America has seen some of the worst aspects of human nature. In response, millions of Americans are rising up, speaking out, and defending our rights and the rights of all people. They are marching in the streets, calling and writing political representatives to demand that our elected officials speak for the people and not cave under the heavy foot of tyrannical leadership. They are donating their hard earned money to organizations that defend and support individuals and groups whose very freedom is under threat. They are strategically utilizing social media platforms to share information that would otherwise be withheld and to mobilize action. These activists, many new to the activism arena, are representative of the very best this country has to offer.

If the first few weeks of the new administration is an indicator of what the future has to hold, we, the American people, are running a marathon, not a sprint. The weeks and months ahead will demand awareness, quick response, and unwavering spirit. We will have to stay active and be reactive to the unjust actions that threaten our civil liberties. We have to stay alert, informed, and ready.

In order to do all these things, we have to stay physically and mentally healthy. We must be diligent to avoid depleting our bodies and we must pay special care in safeguarding our mental health. To keep yourself physically healthy, first and foremost, listen to your body. According to the American Psychological Association, during times of stress “the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness.” Attending yoga classes and getting massage can help alleviate some of the tension in your muscles and they are both beneficial to your mental health. Exercise also helps relieve tension in the muscles and body. Fighting a recurring cold and fatigue can be common during high levels of stress. Prioritizing sleep, healthy eating and taking a multi-vitamin can support a healthy immune system.

Other ways to alleviate stress during this time are meditation, writing in a journal, and reading. Walks in nature can be healing as can talking with like-minded friends. It’s important to note that if you find yourself falling into despair, speak to a mental health professional. Having a safe place where you can talk about your fears and be supported will allow you to stay balanced and healthy.

Being informed is paramount for all citizens in this political climate, but inundating ourselves with a constant stream of negative information on social media platforms and the news can have an adverse impact on mental health. Emotions become heightened and stress levels increase, releasing cortisol, an adrenal hormone, into the body. Over time, an imbalance of cortisol being released can cause serious issues in the body, including adrenal fatigue. Scheduling time for social media interaction and to read the news will allow you to control your intake of the information. Consider giving yourself a time-limit or a specific number of posts to do each day can help alleviate stress.

Typically, our day to day activities and personal responsibilities dictate our lives. But these are not typical times. The actions of those in key political leadership positions demand of us all to stand up and fight. It’s our new reality. It is our responsibility to take care of our physical and mental health so we can defend the best aspects of this country and the people who call it home today or hope to call it home in the future.

*I am not a healthcare professional. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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