Many of us who lay claim to one or more of the identity groups candidate Donald Trump so readily attacked during his campaign (blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, people with disabilities, etc.) are watching with complete terror and anxiety as President-elect Trump, a man who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan (the original domestic terrorist group), prepares to transition into the most powerful position in the world, vindicated by the votes of tens of millions of our fellow Americans. Already, reports of attacks, racist graffiti and bullying of Muslims and immigrants have made headlines in the aftermath of Trump’s election.
Many people are wondering what to do with their feelings of vulnerability right now. As a black woman, and a daughter of immigrants, with an Arabic last name, this has not been an easy week. If you find yourself struggling, it’s important to do what you can to take care of yourself emotionally and mentally first.
Here are some tips you can put to use right now.
- It’s okay to feel angry, sad or anxious right now. It’s okay to cry.
- People may tell you to stop being sad/anxious/fearful about Trump’s victory and move on to fighting back. It’s okay to say no to them. If you know you need time to process and heal, take it, if you can.
- It’s not a bad idea to give Twitter a time out. Fall back from Facebook. Cut off the cable channel. You neither need to be exposed to the fear and anxiety of others nor the gleeful victory chants of Trump supporters. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Oh man, I’m so glad I tuned into CNN/FOX/MSNBC, those pundits made me feel so much better!” Shut it off.
- Pets. Seriously. Research has shown that petting animals can ease stress. Maybe you can visit a friend or relative who has pets. If you don’t have a pet of your own, perhaps now is a good time to think about adopting a rescue animal. Or if you aren’t ready for that full-time responsibility, you can volunteer to foster an animal.
- Get out and and exercise. Even a long walk can help with clearing your mind of negativity. Studies have shown that physical activity helps increase feel-good endorphins, which can help you cope with stressors. I personally have taken up Muay Thai as a release.
- Get out into nature. Remind yourself of the beauty this world provides. Take a hike in the woods. Sit under a tree or near a body of water. Or buy flowers or plants to bring into your space. Even looking at pictures of nature can help.
- Reach out to friends, family and community networks for support. You never know who else may be having a hard time coping right now . Call them, text them and get together in person if you can. Physical touch from others can also be healing — this may be a good time to be open to giving and receiving hugs. ( TBH: I’m not a natural hugger myself, but I’ve found myself relaxing my stance on that this week.)
- Remember to eat and to sleep and to drink plenty of water. Stress weakens the immune system, so remember to keep your nutrition levels stable.
- I’ve said this before, but creativity can be great medicine. Draw, paint, dance, sing. Create and consume beauty from the negativity. For me personally, I’ve taken to reading poetry, particularly from women of color. I highly suggest “salt.” by Nayyirah Waheed and “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur.
- Find a way to laugh. Watch your favorite comedy shows on Netflix and YouTube. Pull up that Chewbacca Mom video. Get drinks with the funniest person you know. Get on your favorite Instagram comedian’s account. Maybe this is a good weekend to get a group together to do karaoke.
- If it is your thing, pray or meditate. Even several minutes of mindful breathing can help ease stress and anxiety.
- If you feel yourself slipping to an extremely dark place, do not be afraid to reach out for professional help from counselors. In our digital age there are online therapy resources such as Talkspace, which can help you find therapists who specialize in helping people of color and LGBT persons. Importantly, if you feel you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself or others, please call 911.
(Special note: If you see a person of color or someone who visibly identifies as one of the groups Trump’s rhetoric has targeted being harassed, bullied or physically attacked in the days or weeks to come, please do not stand by. Speak up, speak out and, if necessary, call the police.)
If you ever find yourself feeling powerless about the new state of affairs in America, remember this gem from Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”