beauty,  civil disobedience,  joy,  love,  nonviolence,  peace,  politics,  social justice

In times like these

The importance of maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual health

Many people I know or am connected with on social media are unhappy, uncertain, and downright angry about the new Republican administration and the decisions being made. Cries of anguish go up over every tweet, every executive order, and each cabinet nominee. I hear some other cries, too: people commenting that their sleep patterns, eating habits, and overall health have been disrupted. They have found themselves in a downward spiral of not just anger, but hatred and contempt.

There is a place for criticism, intentionally provocative posts, and biting political satire. Expressing discontent and holding government officials accountable is an important part of our culture.

Diminishing your health in the process is ineffective.

Even if we are in pursuit of a noble goal, we are useless if we ruin our physical, mental, and spiritual health in the process. Attempts to destroy others have a way of destroying us at the same time.

If you are feeling rundown and angry, if you find yourself in a cycle of exchanging ugly tweet for ugly tweet, perhaps it is time for a moment of reflection, a moment to clarify your objectives and pursue them in a healthier (and more proactive) manner.

Physical Health

Find a quiet spot away from TV or radio and especially the cell phone. Sit quietly and breath. Yes, breath. Pay attention to your breath. Pay attention to your body. Are your muscles tense? Is your stomach in knots? Is your back tight?

Your body is telling you that your anger and your stress are making you sick.

Mental Health

In that same quiet spot, evaluate your current thoughts and feelings. Write them down. Is there room for peace? Is there room for joy? Is there room for beauty? Is there room for thankfulness? Or are you consumed by a swirling discontent?

If your thoughts and feelings are bringing nothing but disquiet to your life, your mental health is at stake.

Spiritual Health

Even if you are not a religious person, this is still a dimension of your humanity. Take time in that quiet moment to look at the center of your self. What do you see? Do you like what you see? If you believe in a higher power, is what you see pleasing in the light of the Divine? Are you living out your life in a positive way? Are you nurturing your connection to others? Are you finding and giving love?

If the self you see reflected in this moment is not pleasing, your spiritual health is suffering.

What are you going to do?

Restoring and maintaining your physical, mental, and spiritual health is crucial to being an effective advocate for the change you want to see. Simple steps include:

  • Exercise — a 20 minute walk may be all you need to restore some physical balance to your life
  • Meditate — spend 5 or 10 minutes each day focusing on your breathing and clearing your mind
  • Journal, make art, sing, play a game — indulge the playful, creative part of your brain
  • Make conscious food choices — pay attention to what, when, and why you eat
  • Look for the good in others and practice the good in you — smile, say thank you, give sincere compliments
  • Practice the golden rule — treat others with the care and respect you would like to receive
  • Be grateful — take time each day to give thanks for the good things in your life
  • Carefully curate you relationships and interactions — be wary of those who drag you down into unhealthy habits and embrace those who bring out the best in you

Take action.

As you bring wholeness back to your life, find proactive ways to make your voice heard. Organize locally to hold elected officials accountable. Help those who want to run for office (or run for office yourself!). Build coalitions in your communities to make them stronger. When you stand up to be heard, make sure what you are saying is worth listening to. Don’t shy away from confrontation, but engage with dignity and respect — even if the other side does not. Embrace nonviolence, both in deed and word.

Most importantly, Stand With Love.

Act from a place of love, not a place of hate. Love builds. Hate destroys. Work to build a strong self, strong family, strong community, strong church. Build a movement of love so large that it overflows, overwhelms, and overcomes.

I believe love has the final word. Why not speak love in your life today?