Trump, Staying Sane, And Why I Quit Facebook

This blog was first published on Huffington Post Technology. 


I didn’t expect Trump’s inauguration to affect me so much.

However, last Sunday, following my participation in Amsterdam’s Women’s March, I found myself struggling with my mental health as I read headline after headline reflecting on the absurd, offensive, and frightening policies Trump was promising to act on (and since has).

During the March, as I stood among a crowd chanting “women’s rights are human rights!” I felt utterly depressed. How was it we were needing to articulate this? Hadn’t my grandmother – and the feminist revolution – already won this battle?

It was then I knew we’re entering into a new phase in history. That, in 2017, we are being called upon to fight for the values, and policies, we may have – regretfully – taken for granted.

But if we are to fulfil Michelle’s mantra, that, when “they go low, we go high,” it’s our responsibility to not only empower ourselves with knowledge, but work (hard) to remain cool, calm and collected too.

So, after some musing, I’ve developed the following – somewhat mishmashed “stay informed while staying sane” approach to Trump’s first week in office.

What did I do?

I started that very night with a digital detox from Facebook. I was (ashamedly) aware that, like 62% of Americans, I’d started to rely on social media as my main source of news. Whatever was trending, or being shared by my closest friends, I’d read and consider myself relatively well informed.

While I do have high regard for the intelligence of my friends, the problem with this is not only the narrow range of content – and viewpoints – I was being exposed to, but the possibility for “fake news” – or #alternativefacts – to Trump. Excuse the pun.

I removed myself from the “noise,” and replaced my daily social media scroll with a range of credible sources – BBC, Huffington Post and Al Jazeera, to name a few.

While this hasn’t made me feel a whole lot better (as almost every headline has been Trump-dominated) it’s allowed me to stay on top of what’s being actioned, and stay tuned to specific areas I need to keep my eye on. Namely, women’s rights, climate change, and immigration.

Along with cleansing my social media habits, I’ve made an active effort to follow thought leaders who inspire and energize me. This has meant subscribing to Huffington Post’s First 100 Days Newsletter, Lenny Letter, and following the words and wisdom of Bernie as he continues to offer sound leadership going forward.

Finally, I’ve being paying more attention to my mental health. As at the time of writing, Trump has signed 12 executive orders; it’s hard to keep up, and it can be disheartening to do so.

To balance my revised content consumption habits, I’m also made an effort to switch off too. To dance, meditate, do yoga; anything that fills me with joy and feeds my positive, optimistic side too.

I’ve made a promise to not to fall victim to the rhetoric of doom and gloom. And I admit, at times, this is hard, especially as I live in The Netherlands where right-wing anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders seems to be gaining in polls just prior to a general election.

And while I’m aware none of the above is driving actionable change, I am, like many, just trying to come to terms with the changing political landscape. I also believe that changing the world starts with changing yourself. The micro feeds the macro, and vice versa.

So, as life goes on, and we wait to watch how events proceed, I’m making sure to feed my spirited side, and to take (many) deep breaths too.

I’m curious dear readers – what’s working for you? How are you keeping up with the week’s events without becoming hysterical, or worse, switching off completely?

Psst – Need expert help? Read CalmClinic’s tips on dealing with Trump anxiety here.