“May you live in interesting times.” – Fortune cookie prophecy
The past two and a half weeks under the Trump administration have been difficult. Headline after headline announces a fresh threat to American freedoms. It can seem as though instead of a war on terrorists and “criminal” immigrants, Trump is forging a war on the mental health and civil liberties of Americans.
It can be a struggle to simultaneously maintain a healthy, positive outlook of our country’s (and the world’s) future while at the same time remaining informed of the news. Even when I go onto Facebook to check out my friend’s pages for some comic relief and a bit of a laugh, the majority of stories that pop up on my newsfeed are articles or videos they’ve posted about Trump.
When you’re living in an era of Trump, how do you stay positive but still woke? How do you get out of the cycle of outrage? Common sense is “don’t feed the troll.” This advice applies to YouTube comments or blog posts, when a faceless commentator writes nasty vitriol intended to rouse the anger of the author and/or other commenters. It also applies to bullies who say mean words to get a rise out of you. “Don’t feed the troll” means you should let their comments roll off your back and ignore them. But what if your President is a troll? What if your president is terrorizing Americans? The most dangerous terrorists can be white, Christian men – precisely because no one labels them as such, so their actions fly under the radar.
So how can we stay healthy and happy in a world gone Trump? Below, I’ve written six things that work for me, that get my energy levels up and elevate my thoughts to a higher frequency. I trust that they will work for you too.
I work out every single day, Monday through Thursday, for 30 minutes after work at my local gym. On Saturdays, I do yoga, either at the studio or in my room. There are plenty of yoga workouts on YouTube. I choose one I like, roll out my mat, and get to stretching and moving.
Exercising, pushing myself to the limit, and constantly challenging myself every workout is gratifying, allows me to express my stress and frustrations in a positive way, releases endorphins, and raises the dopamine levels in my brain.
Feeling like you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the next 4 years with the newly-elected president in office? Drop down and do 10 push-ups! Keep your shoulders and neck stable with your hips and torso straight. Keep your hands below your shoulders. Do 10 full push-ups! Take breaks if you have to. You will overcome! You will push through!! Just do it! Imagine someone who loves you and believes in you is standing right beside you saying, “You can do it!! You got this, love. Go for it!!”
Angry about a new executive order? Go to the gym and smack that 15-pound medicine ball to the ground!! Imagine whoever’s face you need to on the ground. Raise that ball high over your head, then squat as you throw it down! Do it 10 times, 15 times, 20 times. Give it all you have. Do this exercise as many times as you need, to vent that frustration (and get an amazing, firm ass in the process)!
Do you feel like you wake up every morning with a weight on your shoulders? Do an overhead press! Grab some 10lb, 20lb, or whatever pound weights you can handle. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width apart. Now lift those weights over your head as you exhale. Bring it down. Repeat 10 times!! When you’re done, put it down, and walk away to the next exercise. Waking up with a weight on your shoulders is a state of mind. You lifting those weights represents that at any time, you can lift that deadweight up off of you and cast it down. “I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed of the basket.” -Psalm 81:6.
Make it a habit. Decide how often you will workout. I recommend at least 3 times a week, for 20-30 minutes a day. That may not sound like a lot of time, but when you’re doing 10 repetitions of sumo squats with a 30lb kettlebell weight, those 5 minutes of doing those reps will feel like forever. Push through, and when you’re finished, do another exercise. TheFindGuru has a great training workout video (workout starts at minute 2:55).
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Romans 12: 19-21
I read the scripture every morning, as soon as I wake up. When my alarm goes off, I shut it off, then grab my daily devotional book, Power Thoughts by Joyce Meyer, which is right by my bed. Reading the Word clears my head, opens my eyes to God’s infinite bounty, and sets the tone for the day.
The verse from Romans above has been especially helpful to me. When Trump first won the presidency back in November, my thoughts were cloudy and dark. Depending on what someone said or their actions, I would think, “I bet she’s a Trump supporter.“ These people would get the side-eye from me. It was hard for me to go about my usual day because I live in a predominantly white neighborhood that has a significant number of Trump supporters. I felt surrounded and betrayed.
Then I came across this verse. “Never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God.” It was like God was saying, “Clean up your thoughts, Julicia! It is My role to take revenge. It is My role to judge. It is your role to love.” It is still a daily struggle for me to forgive and to love those who voted for Trump, but reading the Word is like getting the most incredible pep-talk straight from God.
Take 5 minutes out of your day to clear your head, slow your heartbeat to a stable rate, and think on easy, happy thoughts (or nothing at all). I got the book, Calm by Dr. Arlene K. Unger, for my cousin at Christmas, and I liked it so much that I got a second copy for me.
One of my favorite exercises in the book is to pretend you’re sunshine:
As you awake in the morning, lie perfectly still for a moment. Breathe in and pay close attention to how it feels to hold in all that air. As you slowly exhale, imagine breathing out a brilliant gold light (this is easier with your eyes closed). As you continue to breathe, visualize the golden light growing and growing…Enjoy the sensation of being bathed in warm light, allowing yourself to feel vibrant and rested.
I always feel calmer after doing these exercises. I do one meditation a week, after yoga. I would love to scale this number up to every day – if anyone has any tips on how to include meditation as a regular part of your day, I’m all ears.
Yup, you heard me. If you find all of the above too hard to do because you don’t have any time, wake up an hour earlier every day.
I wake up at 5:45 am every day. Full disclosure: I usually press snooze, lay in bed until my alarm goes off again at 6 am, then get up (bad habit). Next, I read the Power Thoughts devotional for the day, do some visualization exercises, and then blog. Once I’ve done all of that, it’s usually time to start getting ready for work.
Getting up earlier allows you to get more done! But you have to have a purpose for waking up early, otherwise you won’t do it. Last year, I wanted to get up before 6:45 am, but I failed to make it a habit. Then at the beginning of 2017, I was in HomeGoods and came across this planner –
I thought to myself, why don’t I write down specifically, what it is that I want to do when I get up at 5:45 am so I have a schedule? I’m the type of girl that once I have a schedule, I’m committed. I love checking tasks off a list.
Let’s say you want to start getting up at 5:45 am too, but you’re having problems waking up that early. Buy yourself a $8 planner form HomeGoods and write out a schedule for the week of everything you want to do at 5:45 am. Will those things motivate you to get up at 5:45am? Yes? Then do it! No? Then what do you want to get up at 5:45 am for? LOL.
Travel. Go to Broadway shows. See a ballet. Volunteer. Connect with other humans in real-time. Write, paint, draw, sew, sing, and express your feelings creatively.
Use this situation as fuel to light your fire! It is therapeutic. And it will keep your thoughts on a higher plane, on godly things. I intend to write more and sew more this year. I set goals for how often I want to do both. I also started a YouTube channel and want to start expressing myself creatively through videography as well. In fact, I’m going on a trip later this month, and I want to vlog throughout that trip. Stay tuned for more details! 😉
On Monday, I was feeling down, and there was a problem that was weighing heavy on my chest. It felt like it was tearing at my heart. It was personal problem, but all of this was compounded by the trauma I feel due to the current state of politics and microaggressions I encountered that day (and every day) as a black woman.
After my workout at the gym, I still was feeling pretty down, which is unusual for me. Normally my workouts give me a natural high. It’s like I’ve grabbed the strands at the end of 200 pink-and-white helium balloons and floated into a purple sky, on a higher plane that no one can get me down from.
But this day was different.
I sat in my (stationary) car, and scrolled through my phone. I called my friend Brittney, from college, and talked to her (via Bluetooth – be safe driving and talking on the phone, folks!) while I drove to the supermarket. Do you ever sometimes have a heavy problem, and slowly feel it melting away as you share it with someone? That’s how I felt. It was like there was a heavy block of ice on my chest, pinning me down; but after I shared my troubles with Brittney, it vanished – evaporating into the air. I also get that same feeling when I hug my mom or my sister.
The problem may still exist, but once it’s out my head and I share it with the people who love me, they help me put it into perspective. They may even have ideas for solving the problem that I never even considered.
Make sure you surround yourself with close friends and family who love you. Associate with coworkers and business partners who care about you and your wellbeing. Cultivate genuine friendships. If you have 5000 Instagram followers but not one true friend to turn to when you need help, you have a problem. It will be difficult to pick yourself up when you’re feeling down. Sometimes all you need is a close friend or a relative to say, “You can do it!!” to keep yourself going. Sometimes all you need is someone to listen to you speak and to give you a hug afterwards. Find the people who understand you and lift you up when you’re feeling down. You’re going to need them, and they’re going to need you – for the next four years, and beyond.
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These are the six things that help me reclaim my happiness in a world gone Trump. I hope that they can help you too.
If you try them, please let me know how it works for you! What helps you to claim your happiness? How do you pick yourself up when you’re feeling down? Please share in the comments below!