The future remains in our hands.
Whether you woke up today feeling gutted, or terrified, or victorious, and regardless of who wins an election, the things that you can do to be happy and healthy remain much the same. Except now I feel one of those things takes on even more importance.
Before I offer it, I want to say of course, please take care of yourself. I’ve written before about the four areas that can impact your happiness – physical, mental, emotional and social. That article is aimed at writers, but the basic points apply to everyone. Always put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.
And I hope you all are safe, and remain so.
Now let me ask: what were your concerns in the election, or for the coming four years?
Advocacy & Human Rights, Environment, Immigrants & Refugees, Women, LGBT, Crisis Support, Education & Literacy, Employment, Homeless & Housing, Justice & Legal, People with Disabilities, Politics, Race & Ethnicity, Veterans & Military Families?
This list of categories (and others) is found on http://www.volunteermatch.org/, a site that lets you search for local volunteer opportunities.
This is what I wanted to suggest to help get us through the days ahead: volunteering. It has been shown to add greatly to a person’s happiness and health. In fact, “community involvement” was one of the measurements used to determine my total health when I filled out a recent health questionnaire.
EDIT: Adding a link to an excellent list of organizations that you can also donate money to either in addition to, or instead of (if time/ ability does not allow) volunteering: Jezebel’s list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-Earth, anti-bigotry organizations
You can search sites like volunteermatch, or can search Google for specific organizations that support the causes you care about.
These organizations needed our help yesterday, but they will need our help even more perhaps tomorrow.
I myself have volunteered in the past, but admit I have fallen away from it in recent years, giving only money, always feeling it “wasn’t a good time” to commit some of my time just now. I am recommitting to it now, making it a priority to protect some time each week to help others. It is something concrete and positive I am able to do, that I have the privilege to be able to do.
I recognize volunteering does not easily erase the scope of damage that the US government can do with trickle-down economic policies, or ignoring global climate change, or hardline immigration policies, or rolling back decades of progress on civil and personal rights, or, you know, nuclear weapons.
But we can help offset much of that damage I hope, help those hurt by such outcomes, and perhaps even pressure change in the right direction.
And I certainly do not wish to diminish the real fears and concerns of those who have been targeted these past months with hateful speech and threats by suggesting volunteering will make those dangers magically disappear. Again, I hope you are safe, and my thoughts are with you.
I also recognize that there are some people who are genuinely unable to volunteer due to the burden of time, or access to the transportation or resources needed, or due to age or physical or health or legal limitations or other considerations.
Regardless of whether or not community involvement is an option for you, again I hope you take care of your own health and happiness in the coming days and years, and reach out for help if you are in need.
Share love with your family and friends. Perform a random act of kindness today for a stranger to help lift your heart and theirs — then do it again the next day, and the next.
And know that we can get through whatever comes, together.
UPDATE: I have begun one regular volunteer job, and added several regular donations to my budget. I hope to do even more as time and funds allow.