Mental self-care in the era of Trump

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January 30, 2017

11:00 PM

As students at the College of William and Mary, self-care is something we often practice too infrequently. In many contexts, it can be difficult to balance self-care with responsibility, and I feel that with the recent transition of power in the highest American governmental office one of these contexts has arisen. For myself and some of my closest friends, ignoring the news to avoid some stress has become a pattern that is as healthy as it is unhealthy. By caring for ourselves and our mental well-being, we are falling into the dangerous trap of dismissing policies that will ultimately affect others more than ourselves.

As stressful as it is to hear these policies and worry about how they will affect people in similar situations, it is even more painful to think about the effects on others, effects that I am privileged enough to be unable to imagine.

Since his inauguration, President Trump has enacted executive orders with rapidity. These orders — or those that may be most stress-inducing to acknowledge — include an immigration ban, an elimination of funding for services that provide abortions, two pipeline approvals (complete with damaging environmental actions) and the beginning of the border wall. This is, of course, not a comprehensive list, but I encourage you to read more about not only the policies enacted, but also the effects of these orders.

When I hear about the policies Trump has set forth during his presidency, I worry. I worry about the people who will lose healthcare because it is being politicized. I worry about how my family will get into the country. As I have watched my uncle trying to help his wife and child enter the United States, I have seen how conflicting the process has been in recent years — before any of these recent bans and restrictions. As stressful as it is to hear these policies and worry about how they will affect people in similar situations, it is even more painful to think about the effects on others, effects that I am privileged enough to be unable to imagine.

As a person with so much privilege, I cannot dictate how others choose to practice self-care, but I hope that — no matter how we practice it — we, as a campus, choose to stay informed about the changing world around us

Nobody is looking to build a pipeline, rushing through the necessary environmental procedures near my home. For the time being, my healthcare is not at risk because the provider of that healthcare also provides abortions. I am mostly unaffected. I am lucky enough to be in college, able to discuss these policies in an environment where I am not at risk for expressing my opinions, so I find much of the news easy to overlook. If it doesn’t affect me, I don’t really have to think about it.

Unfortunately, for so many people, Trump’s executive orders have direct and personal implications. I understand that college is stressful enough. Staying up late reading in Swem or trying desperately to solve a problem that is difficult to understand carries its own burden, weighing on our mental health. However, whether you agree with the new policies or not, I implore you to keep up with the news. Understand the implications. As a person with so much privilege, I cannot dictate how others choose to practice self-care, but I hope that — no matter how we practice it — we, as a campus, choose to stay informed about the changing world around us.

As for myself, I will try to take care of myself while consuming the news that might distress me. A friend suggested baking and calling our congressmen at the same time. No matter how I choose to do it, I know that I have more room in my life to help others. I hope that with a little more self-awareness, and by thinking of other people when I keep up with current events, I will be practicing the best form of self-care: caring.

Email Kiana Espinoza at [email protected]

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  • Kiana Espinoza