Ever since Trump became president, I fear he will get us into a nuclear war, alienate and isolate the U.S. amongst nations, strengthen the oppression of everyone who’s not white/male/rich/conservative/evangelical Christian, ruin the environment, and abuse the presidency to enrich himself. Even if he’s eventually impeached or resigns, I wonder how much damage he can do before then. How can I get through this with my sanity?
I work with people’s nervous systems, and when you are living with fear and anger, your autonomic nervous system is in sympathetic dominant mode. That means living in fight-or-flight with your attention externally directed to possible threats. That includes tuning into the news (and these days, the “news”).
The opposite is called parasympathetic dominance, aka rest-and-digest. Guess which one is better for your health and well-being.
You may want to blame Donald Trump, but please recall that when Obama was elected, a lot of people were uneasy — and Trump was able to play on their fears and get himself elected.
The issue that you actually have control over is where you direct your attention.
Maybe you were raised to believe that being informed was a virtue, and you watched the nightly news, read a newspaper, or took Time or Newsweek.
The mass media now includes the social media, and the pace of modern life has quickened. All the media make money off advertising and subscriptions, and the more followers they have, the more money they can charge, so they have a very strong incentive to hook you emotionally into continuing to tune in. There are addiction-like chemicals at work in your brain that keep you checking Facebook, the New York Times, Fox News, whatever your preference is, for the latest upsetting-story-that-justifies-your-beliefs-about-how-bad-Trump/Hillary/Obama-is, thus keeping you in sympathetic dominance. (I do this, too.)
If you’d prefer spending more of your life in parasympathetic dominance, enjoying the feeling of well-being and safety (except when there’s an actual imminent threat in your face), figure out how to wean yourself away from the news. Maybe you check Facebook once a day and instead, you meditate on your breath or take a walk. Maybe you take media-free vacations. You can do it!
Meanwhile, vote and support the causes and politicians you believe in, because change is inevitable. Take great care of yourself!
MaryAnn Reynolds is a long-time Austin resident, an ecstatic dancer, Vipassana meditator, yogi, mom, nonnie, craniosacral therapist/bodyworker at maryannreynolds.com, vintage-trailer-dweller, tree-lover, meditator, and blogger at wellbodymindheartspirit.com who is avidly anticipating the scoop on Dr. Victor Goodlove and the Bukh. Her key life question these days is “How much better it is possible to feel?” She’s going for it!