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Chronically Cheerful #2 Coping in the chaos.
Go-to affirmations, performative social media, and why representation matters.
Honestly, I’m not doing great. I’m guessing you’re probably not, either.
If you were hoping 2021 would mark a new chapter after 2020, you’re not wrong for feeling a deep kind of emotional exhaustion and even hopelessness right now. From SELF writer Jessica Gold:
Exhausted and emotionally drained, we crawled through the end of 2020 like the end of a marathon, just wanting to cross the finish line, get our stupid participation trophy and silver space blanket, and vow never to do it again in our lives. But we didn’t get that. There were no sighs of relief and time for recovery. Instead, we have to keep going, keep trying, and keep surviving.
For me, “trying and surviving” means focusing on what I can control, like sustainable self-care. Practicing self-care is critical — especially during chaotic times — to restore a sense of inner stability and calm, which can then help each of us to better show up for those around us. Taking care of yourself is truly the foundation of community care.
Here are 4 tips to help you cope:
Calming down the nervous system. Breath work, including box breathing and alternate nostril breathing is an amazing tool to help the body switch out of an agitated fight/flight mode to a more restorative rest/digest state.
Consume news mindfully. Doom-scrolling is real and it has a hugely negative impact on mental health. But there’s also a very urgent need to stay informed. I’m challenging myself to watch and consume any news — whether TV, online or print — from a place of mindful intention instead of careless compulsion.
Reaching out to friends. When you’re already feeling depleted or unsure, it can be hard to muster the energy to chat. But staying connected is a critical life raft during such traumatic times. Knowing you’re not alone — especially when unpacking your emotional processing of recent events — can be priceless.
Making a community impact. One person can’t end fascism, terrorism or political strife. But small actions make a big difference. I’ve been looking into ways to get more involved in my local community, including: Invisible Hands, which delivers groceries and other essential items to populations especially vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as Fuel the People, which distributes food, water, and essentials to protesters. Making an actionable plan with local organizations doing important work on the ground is helping me to feel more empowered and less helpless.
Wishing you as many moments of inner calm as possible. Stay safe, everyone.
Q&A: Question from the CC Community
Q: Any go-to affirmations for high pain days? — @movementwithmigraine
A: When pain takes over your body, health anxiety can sneakily dominate your mind. I’ve been there — it’s exhausting and debilitating. I love using mantras to help ground me and gain back some headspace. Try some of the following and see which resonate!
I can get through this moment.
My breath supports me.
I have gotten through this pain before and I can do it again.
I am safe, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.
Struggling doesn’t mean that I did something wrong.
I am doing my best and that is enough.
This sensation is just a sensation.
I accept this feeling without trying to change it.
I release any pressure to feel better faster.
Have you been stressing over social media recently? You’re not alone. On my personal Instagram account this past week, I grappled with posting a lighthearted photo (there were alpacas involved). Would posting something “fun” be considered insensitive? Would there be backlash? Should I only focus on national news? Would my silence be seen as complicity?
More on this from Nisha Chittal’s wonderful newsletter:
Trying to post anything in the year 2021 requires performing an exhausting mental calculus: will I look insensitive if I post a picture of the dinner I made while the country is falling apart outside my door? Can I post a picture of me and my husband maskless in the park or will we be accused of not taking the pandemic seriously? Maybe it’s better not to post anything at all. But if I don’t say something about the coup, will people think I don’t care?
Regular people with Instagram accounts now think like celebrities with public relations teams, wondering if we need to issue a statement about our position on a news event, crafting announcement posts to share news about our personal and professional lives, and having to anticipate what kind of reaction or backlash they might face.
Though we know social media is a place devoid of context, we tend to assume that what we see is the full picture, and make judgements accordingly. As Alicia Kennedy wisely wrote this week, “I am not performing my totality on social media. No one is; no one should.”
Earlier this month, the new Bachelor contestant gave his coveted “first impression rose” to a woman with a disability. Honestly, I bawled after seeing the Bachelor give the 🌹 to a smart, kind woman who was also deaf — not in spite of Abigail’s differences, but because he was so impressed with her grit and grace.
Representation matters for awareness and acceptance, recognition and respect. If you need evidence, look no further than Google: the term cochlear implant (Abigail’s electronic device that stimulates the hearing nerve) was trending on Google right after the episode!