Self-care for end times (or how I learned to stop worrying and love constitutional crises)


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Over the past couple of years, Washington, DC, has become really good at one specific thing: blowing enough smoke to create a huge anxiety cloud that stretches across all 50 states. I mean, even if you’ve sworn off Twitter (oh, I’ve tried), the drumbeat of WTF moments has been remarkably consistent.

And now, with an anonymous White House staffer announcing in The New York Times yesterday that he or she is part of the resistance and the the most heated Supreme Court confirmation hearing in decades underway, all I can say is: Wow, DC. You’ve somehow taken it up several notches.

It’s like a baby tornado, whipping the anxiety cloud that’s hung over our nation for two years into a frenzy. And no one knows where it’s going to go—or how big it’s going to get.

It would be impressive if it weren’t so terrifying. As the pundits are fond of saying, “We are in uncharted waters.” But honestly, if you’re going to use a metaphor from nature, let’s call it a baby tornado, whipping that two-year-old anxiety cloud into a frenzy. And no one knows where it’s going to go—or how big it’s going to get.

So, what the hell do we do about it? There’s a ton you can do politically—and this is certainly the time to work your civic mojo, in every way you can. But personally, how do you keep gas in the tank? Since, as Lalah Delia (founder of  Vibrate Higher Daily) put it so perfectly, “Self-care is how you take your power back.”

As a W+G reader, you already know that healthy food, a daily sweat session, and great zzz’s can turn down the stress and amp up the good vibes—but here are a few more ideas you might not have thought of, to help you thrive like a queen no matter what DC throws at us.

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Masturbate

Okay, hear me out. Studies show that a satisfying sex session decreases anxiety because orgasms flood your brain with feel-good chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin. And if you’re way over your limit on cortisol (“the stress hormone”), some self-love can bring you back to balance there, too. Obviously, if you have a partner to share this with, even better! But hey, this is a self-care to-do list.

Clean your house

Therapists will tell you that your home is a reflection of your mental state (file under: things I learned from Hoarders). And it works both ways: Clear your mind by clearing clutter, whether you want to go feng-shui with it or full Kondo—either way, life is better in a clean house.

Say hi (or introduce yourself) to your neighbors

There’s an old saying that all politics are local. So, get a grip on your IRL “political” life—what’s the deal with the couple in 4R anyway? Everything happening in DC is far, far away. And while it will definitely affect you, improving your relationship with your neighbors is a tangible way to make your actual life more stable. Plus, didn’t we get into this hyperpartisan mess by staying in our “bubbles”? Mix it up—getting out of your comfort zone is good for your health.

Cook

During the most stressful times in my life, I rely on chopping. Onions, peppers, whatever—give me a complicated stir-fry to make, and it’s like popping a Prozac. And science backs this up: Repetitive tasks have stress-busting powers. And there’s an amazing side effect to cooking—eating! Preferably with friends, since BFF time makes you healthier. It’s probably worth freezing a casserole or two, in case the neighbor campaign cascades into a drop-by friendship.

Do jumping jacks

Like a child who’s reached “freak-out zone,” sometimes the best thing to do is tire yourself out and put yourself to bed. By doing jumping jacks (or any up-down jumping movement), you have the added benefit of stimulating your lymph system—which improves your immunity and keeps you from literally worrying yourself sick.

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