Art, music and trees: How we destress during trying times

November 14, 2018

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Recent news and actions have resulted in a barrage of threats, resulting in stress, paranoia and fear. It can become too much to handle. If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone.

As a mission-driven nonprofit, Resource Media experiences the pressures of a conflicted world in many ways. We are exposed to them through our projects; they affect each of us based on our individual life-stories; and they impact us as a team.

That’s why we recently held a learning lunch for staff to share tips about what strategies and techniques we’re each using to keep our balance in an unbalanced world. We’re sharing the list with you in hopes it will help you and your organizations to cope as well.

Focus on appreciation and gratitude: Spend time deliberately appreciating what’s good in your life: health, home, family, pets, a beautiful view, good food and friends.

Community and caucusing: Prioritize time with communities that see you, hear you, and support you. Sometimes that means seeking conversations in a community, or caucus/affinity space, that shares some of your own life story and lived experience. At Resource Media, that might mean the People of Color Caucus, the LGBTQIA Caucus, or the White Caucus.

Disconnect from the madness: While it’s important that everyone stays engaged and does our part, doing that full-time is draining. Many of our staff have said they’ve stopped watching pundit TV, take conscious breaks from social media, avoid reading midterm election polling updates, and sometimes turn off phone apps that send “alerts” to avoid news overload.

Get outside (or at least away from your computer!) One solution we’ve found at Resource Media is to spend time outside—at the beach, in a garden, in the woods at a local park. It’s a powerful way of tapping into other parts of our brains and bodies, giving ourselves an extra boost of oxygen, disconnecting for a moment and appreciating our communities. Others find it restful to turn off the TV and turn on music while cooking, chatting with friends, etc.

Art, music, etc.: An important theme is finding ways to bring art—visual, musical, poetry, or whatever form one finds most engaging—into our lives, as another way to take a break and/or engage other creative parts of our brains. Some of us subscribe to a daily poem email from the Poetry Foundation; others listen to music or go to art exhibits.

Meditation, yoga, etc.: Many of us meditate, or practice yoga or other movement arts. Finding ways to fit these practices into busy schedules is key to ensuring they are truly helpful. Some folks use apps like Headspace (one example among many); others download meditations or empowering podcasts (like Healing Justice) to listen to during our commutes or other “in-between” spaces. Here’s a cool video about very short meditations.

Remember you’re doing good work: Taking a broader/longer view of the history (and future) of progressive work/resistance work is helpful in not feeling overwhelmed by all the needs surrounding us these days. And working at a place like Resource Media gives many of us an important sense of being part of a broader community doing work that matters. Reading about others doing great work (like all the women working to get out the vote) can help, too!

What techniques do you (or your organization) use to cope? Please send us your ideas to info [at] resource-media.org, and we’ll add them to this post.

Cat Lazaroff

Photo by Jessica D. Vega on Unsplash