Wow. What a long weekend; a new president took office and an unprecedented peaceful protest took place across all seven continents. On Friday I flipped through the various news organizations for inauguration coverage, and on Saturday morning I posted up on the couch with coffee in one hand and my breastfeeding 3 month old in the other while watching the Women’s Marches happening all over the world. Watching those massive peaceful protests, I felt incredibly proud to not only be a woman, but also to be an American. I was feeling spirited, that was, until I went online. While I enjoy being in the know and do my best to stay informed from reputable sources, all of the negativity (from people of all political affiliations) was starting to bring me down. I have no intention of burying my head in the sand, but I could definitely use a day or two of politics detox after such an eventful weekend.
First step, unplug. These days it’s practically impossible to go online, watch TV, or listen to the radio without being bombarded with political jargon of one kind or another. While the stuff you’ll see and hear on TV and radio are generally factual, or least respectful, the rhetoric tends to be especially harsh and combative online. I’m all for using social media to express your opinions and engage in thought-provoking conversations (I’ve even been known to make a subtle political post or comment every once in a while), but for many people it can get a bit excessive and unnecessarily heated. And for every respectful, intelligent thought put out there, there are a dozen hateful and ignorant responses. All the hostility and blatant disrespect for one another can be down right depressing and frustrating. Go ahead and log off Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for a while; it can do wonders for your soul.
Step two, pick up a book or take a walk. Idle hands will no doubt pick up the smart phone and browse Facebook. Avoid ruining your political detox before it’s even started by keeping busy. Curl up with that book you’ve been meaning to start, or pull out the craft supplies and get creative. Spend some extra time at the gym or take the dog for a long hike.
Step three, free your mind. If you’re like me, your brain just won’t quit, even when you want it to. Sometimes, when I’ve had enough thinking for one day, I have to actively try to quiet my mind. When I do need a little a help clearing my mind, I’ve found two things to work like a charm. The first is a good old fashion yoga class. There is something about yoga, especially hot yoga, that allows me to let go of all the worry, anger, and stress that I may be holding onto. If yoga isn’t your thing (if you haven’t tried it, I urge you to give it a chance) or if you just don’t have the time, consider downloading a meditation app for some mindfulness on the go. There a tons of apps to choose from but two of my favorites are Calm and Headspace. Both apps are free, have 5 star ratings, and are perfect for beginners.
Step four, connect with those you love. Instead of turning on the TV or picking up your phone, spend some quality time with family and friends. Take the kids to the park, or go on a family outing to see a movie or family-friendly play. Have a dinner party with friends, but leave the political talk at the door for the evening. Spending time with the people you love can be just the distraction you needed to help you momentarily forget about the ugliness in the world.
You can’t hide from current political events, nor do I think you should, but I do think it’s important to take a break from the negativity. After you’ve had a short detox and you’re ready to get back to it, do your best to always take the high road. Keep on fighting for what you believe in, and engage in respectful discussions with people of opposing views or affiliations. Continue to expand your political knowledge, and resist the bait when internet trolls spread their hate. Whatever you do, practice kindness.