Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Finding Hope

This week is LIS Mental Health week. There's so much I want to say, and could discuss. There's the specter of a completely unqualified candidate for Education Secretary and the reality of the Gaslighter in Chief and his unconstitutional executive orders. We also have the same problems as before, working in a field that is chronically undervalued and underfunded. And then there's the ish of being in the Northern Hemisphere and getting less sunlight than we need this time of year. Basically, this is a recipe for hopelessness. The best way to fight that is to make sure you take care of yourselves. This is too important a time, and we need every single one of you.

I really hope this doesn't come across as preachy, by the way. I know I need self-care reminders, so I'm sharing. Here are things we all need to do. Also, I fully acknowledge that I've covered some of these topics before...

Sleep. You are not going to do anyone any good, least of all yourself, if you are running on empty. And if you are having problems sleeping, talk to a medical professional.

Have a life. You can't just protest and worry about the fate of the world. You can't just work. You can't just any one thing. Spend 5 minutes a day with Duolingo learning a new language. Send a text to a friend.

Try to limit the junk food. This is one where I have problems. I know m&ms are going to make me feel like crap, but I still eat them. Instead, try to eat peanuts or an apple.

Get outside at least once a day. And don't just pass through it. Actually stop and look around. Say hello to the squirrel who is yelling at you as you park your car, or notice the exact color of the sky.

Laugh and cry. You need these releases. I cannot not laugh when watching Death at a Funeral (British version for me, thanks) and I cannot not cry when watching Lilo & Stitch (that scene at the end where he explains his family guts me every time), so when I need a release I'll watch these.

Take care of yourself medically. Don't ignore a persistent cough or a part of your body being sore. If your hopelessness (or anxiety, or mental numbness) gets away from you, go to the doctor - there is no shame in needing medicine.

Try to be self-aware. This can be extremely difficult, I know, so I recommend the tool I use - it's a checklist titled "Everything Is Awful and I'm Not Okay: Questions to Ask Before Giving Up on Yourself."

And most importantly, pay attention to your victories. Small victories like bringing your lunch from home or emptying the dishwasher. Big victories like speaking up for yourself or supporting a protest. Write them down and cherish them like the jewels they are. They're your best weapon against the dark.

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