Down the Rabbit Hole (or how do I keep my joy – and sanity- in the current political climate)

So this title is a little bit deceiving depending on how you read it. At first glance it might seem like tips on how I keep my cool with everything that is going on in the world today.  Give it a second look and it could be viewed as a question to myself – How do I keep my joy and sanity today?  I’ve been asking myself that a lot lately.  

I’m not going to get into political views or debates about public issues or anything like that.  What I want to focus on is the anxiety and turmoil that the current state of politics is having on me and on my family.  

Now, if you’ve been on the internet recently (pick your outlet of choice:  news sites, Facebook, etc.), regardless of your political inclination, you might have noticed something:  there are lots of angry people who are angry about a variety of things, and are engaged in heated conflict. 

(This might seem like a detour, but just follow me for a moment).  

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A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to take the Clifton Strengthfinders 2.0 test to find out what my strengths were.  What I discovered was quite interesting and explained a lot about how I handle life.  My number 1 strength that came up was “Harmony,” and not in the musical sense.  Harmony in this case is described as “looking for agreement/common ground, avoiding confrontation and friction, ” and in my own words “keeping the peace.”  The 2nd strength that came up for me was “empathy” – “sensing the feelings/emotions of those around me and feeling them as if they were my own.” So what does this mean, exactly….

There have been days recently, where I am embarrassed to say, I have gotten sucked into what my husband and I call “The Rabbit Hole,” where you start out innocently enough by simply logging onto Facebook, only to realize 2 hours have gone by and you’ve read all of these posts, articles and comments where people are bashing each other, and you feel hopeless and robbed of your sanity and joy.  This is where my strengths sort of become my downfall…  I read all of this arguing and spewing of anger and I can’t resolve it.  There goes my peace! 

The other “problem” is my empathetic nature.  I feel the pain of others. I absorb it, and can feel it myself.  Again, Facebook…. BAD IDEA CHERYL!!!  There are so many stories of injustice and pain, (especially now) that I cannot alleviate, so it only inflicts more anxiety and pain for me.  

 Now, after sitting and attempting to bring life back to my spirit after having it sucked out by the internet vampires, I ask myself “where did my joy go?” and “how can I get it back?”  This question is not just important for me, you see.  This anxiety and loss of peace gets transferred into my relationship with others.  After all of this reading, (and feeling frustrated with the outcome of the imaginary arguments I’ve had in my head) my nerves are on edge and I wind up lashing out about the littlest things.

So to answer my own question of “How do I keep my joy, (and sanity)” while still staying up to date on the world, I am making (you guessed it) a list!

  • Get off Facebook 

  • Look for good news/joy (if you stay on FB make them first in your feed).  Here’s an amazing example to brighten your day: High School Students Start a Lunch Club So No One Eats Alone

  • Meditate and breathe.  I find that when I get flustered and upset if I take a few minutes to focus on my breathing, it helps to calm me down.

  • Put on some uplifting music.  Sing and dance along!  We’ve been listening to A LOT of Sesame Street song parodies here in the Nunez household, and I have to admit that sometimes I play them when the little guy is asleep. (Here’s one of my favorites:  

    Usher can even make the alphabet sound cool…)

  • Do something that makes you happy.  Read a book, work on arts & crafts, go for a walk.  Do whatever it is that gives you a lift!

  • And last, but not least: Be present.  Here is where the meditation and breathing stuff comes in handy.  Regardless of what you are doing, take a moment to notice your breath, notice the sensations in your body.  It will bring you to the present moment, and for me, that helps to melt away anxiety and fear.  

These are just a few things that help to bring me joy.  What are some simple things in your life that bring you joy?  Please share in the comments below, you might open our eyes to something new, or something we hadn’t thought of before! 

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