Recently it’s been hard to concentrate on everyday life hasn’t it? Here are some tips for getting through the black cloud that is today’s news cycle
Let’s face it, for the last two weeks “British politics” has felt like we are all living in the final series of a hastily axed television show. One for which the writers seem to have thrown carefully constructed character arcs and plotlines out of the window to wrap it all up quickly.
On the day of the referendum result (we voted Leave btw), I posted a Facebook status asking if anyone had a number for ketamine and said I was looking to pick up enough to keep me in a K-hole until my mid-40s. It was just a fortnight ago but already I realise how foolish this was. What possible need could we have for chemical dissociatives when a daily news cycle of economic dread, political disintegration, coups, back stabbings and resignations have become so overwhelming we could easily feel completely paralysed and lacking in any kind agency, without any need for tranquilizers.
However, it is important, now more than ever to not let ourselves completely atrophy into fear and anxiety. Since Brexit, the rise in racist hate crimes means that immigrants living here and British nationals who are not white often cannot avoid the violent impact of social divisions the referendum brought to the fore. Those of us who are white and British must choose to actively resist this too, however we can. In the words of Desmond Tutu, “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Still, how can any of us as ordinary people deal with the immensity of all of this, and an economic downturn which seems to have even thrown our senior politicians into a heightened state of anxiety? How to survive the fear of constant impending crisis and look after ourselves while also trying to engage in meaningful ways to recover a sense of political power? Here are some suggestions.
GO TO PROTESTS AND DEMOS
I’ll admit it. Until recently my ardour for marches, protests and political demonstrations was at an all time low. I had come to regard them, a bit cynically, as a waste of time – where you’d meet a bunch of dull ‘anarchists’ who looked like they had been rejected at first round auditions for a Nirvana tribute band. But, in the light of anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric which has led us here, showing solidarity with all immigrants and people of colour is a very public way to contradict the political hostility unleashed since Brexit.
If you live in a city, especially in London, it is easy to search for protest groups’ pages and see what events they are organising. No one can go to everything and some causes will be closer than others – Sisters Uncut organise in relation to violence against women for example, while Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants does what it says on the tin. One advantage of most demos and protests is that just physically showing up is taking part and so you can go alone to check them out without it being weird or awkward. Signs and chanting are not required but can be inventive and fun to read while collective feelings of anger and protest are cathartic.
TAKE BREAKS FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
Ok so you’re a passionate Left/centrist Labour party member and there’s another passionate centrist/Left Labour party arguing with you on Facebook about Jeremy Corbyn’s grassroots membership or Tony Blair’s war legacy or you’re having to tell some dreadful Tory that Theresa May isn’t a victory for feminism (ok that one was me earlier today). You’re 58 comments deep in a Facebook thread war, you’ve both used up every sassy rhetorical flourish and snappy clapback and collected in your ‘likes’ from the observing crowd. Those likes started drying up at 3pm, kids, and its now 1.45am. No one is going to yield, none of your online fans are going to wade through all this shit in the morning. They don’t care; it’s just not that deep. Go to bed. Possibly have an actual wank because that’s all you’re really doing metaphorically at this stage.
LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
I have said this before and I will say it again. Constant engagement with a tumultuous news cycle, political uncertainty and anger at our foolish overlords takes it toll on your mind. Without your mental health you have nothing to give to friends, family, any political or social cause, or yourself. Your own wellbeing is more important than anything else on this list.
LOOK AT THIS PICTURE OF VICTORIA BECKHAM
Don’t ask me why, but I have found this image of Victoria Beckham performing her 2000 pop hit “Out of Your Mind” live in Scarborough immensely rejuvenating in this time of national strife. A simpler time.
JOIN A TRADE UNION
We’re leaving the EU, and it is likely that reams of EU law will have to be rewritten. By the Tories. Given that the EU was (*sobs*) a prime source of employment legislation and the economy is fucked it makes sense to join a union, especially if in a precarious working situation, in order to take a small step to protecting yourself and your rights.
POLITICAL DRINKING GAMES
Have a glass of sauvignon blanc every time someone resigns from political office or withdraws their bid to become a party leader – it’s really fun. Boris quit at 9am and I had a fabulous day.
Demos and protests are all well and good but agreeing to donate your time and skills to something that helps your community – in whatever sense of the word – once a week or even every few weeks can provide opportunities to meet new people and ongoing stimulation. Involvement in something tangible where you can actually see the practical benefit to others helps us all feel less useless and furious with a disembodied “system” that is slow to change. Remembering we’re all just human beings is trite but then so are couples who make everyone use wedding hashtags and they aren’t stopping anytime soon.