Self-Care for the Apocalypse

Every day, there’s a new affront: another egregious human rights violation, another deplorable policy, another nefarious assault on fundamental decency. Just when we think it can’t get worse, that there is nowhere lower to sink, we’re proven wrong, slapped in the face once again. Most recently, it’s asylum-seeking families being treated like criminals, with children separated from their parents and placed in cages. In some cases, these families will never be reunited again. And in the midst of this vile chaos, Justice Kennedy announces his retirement from the Supreme Court, opening the way for another Trump appointment.* In the words of the late Justice Henry Blackmun, “I fear for the future. The signs are evident and ominous, and a chill wind blows.” With reckless disregard for the constitution and the rule of law, Trump and his enablers charge on. The architecture of checks and balances meant to protect us has crumbled. Democracy seems to be slipping through our fingers as we slide treacherously closer and closer to fascism.

These are grim days indeed. It’s hard to get our bearings under this relentless barrage and even more difficult to hold any measure of optimism. Yet, we’re surviving, at least so far. And as beat up as we are, we have to figure out a way to stay in it and to take care of ourselves in the process. Our very humanity depends on it.  I don’t presume to have any answers. I’m as weary and shell-shocked as the next person. But I’m not ready to roll over either. With that in mind, here are a few ideas for self-care for the apocalypse:

  • Start with the basics. Eat clean. Stay hydrated. Get enough sleep. Exercise. These are fundamental to our well-being but easy to forget when we’re under duress. Our bodies are home. We need to tend to them.
  • Stop the flood. Events are happening faster than we can keep up with them. Some days (most days), multiple atrocities are happening at once. So often, we’re hit with the news of yet another awful development, followed by the stress of the broader implications of what just happened. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and to either freak out or tumble into despair. If that happens, stop everything. Get back into the present moment. Deal with the here and now. Breathe. Take a moment to calm your mind and recenter.
  • Monitor consumption. Social media provides a constant stream of breaking news, ongoing analysis and steady commentary. Between our phones, laptops and tablets, we’re forever ingesting the madness. There’s no question that we have to stay informed. However, we don’t need to overload our brains 24/7. It’s okay to step back a bit here and there. I’d even argue that doing so will ultimately enhance our ability to stay sane and keep fighting. We know what’s up. We can turn off our devices for a few hours a day. The shitty stuff will all still be there when we power on again.
  • Hang with your people. Make the time. Offer and accept comfort in whatever form it takes- hugs, homemade pie, a communal walk. Give and receive love.
  • Let art and music soothe and inspire you.
  • Get outside. Take in the air. Look up at the trees and the sky. Feel the earth beneath your feet. Surrender to the stars. Mother Nature has your back.
  • Square with your mortality. I know I’ve said this before and that it may seem extreme. But I believe that all fear is ultimately rooted in a fundamental fear of death. To fully recognize, accept and even embrace our own ultimate demise is to be liberated. There’s quiet strength in that spaciousness.
  • Read Pema Chodron. She’s a tough-love Bodhisattva, unfazed by the darkness.
  • When you’re rested, reflect on your super powers. Think about ways to finesse and strengthen them. Study. Practice. Learn. Grow. Create. Grace the world with the best version of yourself. We need you.
  • Do what you can, in big and small ways, to alleviate human suffering.
  • Love yourself. Please.

Some believe that we’re in an unprecedented time in U.S. history. Others feel it’s simply a perpetuation of what we’ve always been. Either way, the struggle is ugly and long. They’re banking on our exhaustion and despair. But we will not be complicit in our own ruination. Self-care is not about indulgence. It’s about health and wellness. It’s how we find the fortitude to go the distance, wherever it may take us.


*It was announced this evening that Trump’s nominee is Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This is the guy who said a sitting president shouldn’t be criminally indicted or prosectuted. How convenient. Let’s just hope to God that Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have a spine.