I ran into a friend the other day, and we starting talking about the stress of living through the current political environment and the ongoing climate crisis. He told me that he had to stop living in all-consuming anger to prevent it from taking a toll on his health and well-being.
Many of us would say we are living in one of the most challenging times we’ve ever experienced. The LGBTQ community, like many minority communities, is deeply challenged by political attitudes, especially with daily challenges we already encounter. Whether we consciously recognize it or not, these issues contribute to a significant source of stress individually and collectively.
How might we care for ourselves and others during this time? Like my friend modeled, it’s healthy to take breaks from political discussions, social media and news. We can set boundaries and limits on how we engage in these activities. It’s healthy to focus on our physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs. Experts say we need a minimum of one-half hour of downtime each day. Many of us need more. If we can be in nature during that downtime, it’s even better for us.
Finding a sense of purpose adds meaning, hope and optimism to our lives. Some find volunteering with non-profits, political candidates and groups working for change to be very fulfilling — they report that they feel less isolated and more energized.
Spiritual practices of meditation, creating art, mindfulness, reading and prayer refresh us with focus and peace. It’s important to ensure there’s time for these activities each week. This includes spending time with people who give us a sense of community — in effect, increasing our personal community.
What inspires you and brings joyfulness? Whom do you most admire? These questions can help us reconnect to the people and actions that are most important to us, help us grow and ground us during challenging times.
Feeling lighter and hopeful — both are possible to achieve. No reason to wait.
May all be healed, may all be comforted and may all be loved.
Rev. Debbie Warren, an ordained Baptist minister, is the executive director for RAIN in Charlotte, N.C.