It has been a weird past couple weeks.
Like many other students who enjoy living in the relatively progressive bubble here at uOttawa, I feel numb and nauseous in regards to many of actions and statements of President Trump. Since November 8th, I have been processing my feelings, watching a lot of Seth Meyers' A Closer Look and trying to stay away from the toxic political wasteland that tends to be social media.
And I truly hate having to get political online. I commend people who do it, but I do not find the internet to be a safe space and continually sharing a Huffington Post articles is not going to help anyone. However, being brave and standing up for one's beliefs is the only way to incite change.
Climate change, the environmental crisis and indigenous issues are not dismissible as "fake news".
Yet it is easy to start feeling all of the feelings in incredulous times such as these: anger, sadness, apathy, denial, hopelessness and fear. A steady downpour of really bad news regarding the environment, but also human rights, to in which it seems you can do nothing about, can really impact your mental wellbeing. Combine that with the normal pressures of student life and you're likely a veritable cornucopia of uneasiness, stress, anger, hopelessness and so on.
It is important not to remain silent about issues you care about and the things you know to be fundamentally wrong. But you cannot take care of others, or the earth, or anything for that matter, if you're not taking care of yourself first. So in this time of "alternative facts", here are some alternative things you can do to self-care and earth-care.
- Paint your own mugs
There are too many discarded paper cups all over campus. Replace all those cups with a travel mug. It is so simple and it has an impact you can visibly see! Remember, you can get free fair-trade coffee on each Monday in FSS through the Office of Campus Sustainability's Muggy Mondays if you simply bring a mug. Plus, you save money at ALL of the campus vendors when you bring your own reusable mug.
Don't have a travel mug? I would like to recommend to you a wonderful place in the Glebe called the Mud Oven. You can paint and decorate your own piece of pottery and it is so lovely. They play wonderfully chill music there and it is a wonderful space to disconnect with the "Trump-y" social meds feeds and reconnect with your inner child. No more excuses for silly paper cups!
- Read and writeDid you know that no postage stamp is required to send a letter to any MP, including Prime Minister Trudeau? Maybe you could tell him how you feel about his support for the executive ordered pipeline. If you feel a way, you'll feel better if you DO something about it. Or simply writing things down for yourself is an amazing way to work it out, get it out and validate your emotions.
Or, if you feel like you need more information about some of the environmental and indigenous-rights threatening executive order, uOttawa law student Andrea Lesperance wrote a succinct and clever piece about the proposed pipelines and their infringement upon indigenous rights in America. Learn the real facts about these issues before getting fired up one way or another.
You also likely do enough reading for school, but if you're looking for a good novel to escape into, I'd like to recommend Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, the Man-Booker Prize winner and the Writer in Residence at the uOttawa English Department. It intelligently and touchingly deals with immigration, protest and uprising in the aftermath of China's Cultural Revolution. The themes eerily reverberate today.
- Walk... or march.
Get your butt outside! You will always feel so much better when you do. Buddle up and go for a walk to get a coffee or Kettleman's, but perhaps even to a protest! There have already been many protests organized and there will be so many more to come. Sharing the energy of other people who CARE is a wonderful way to support and feel supported in these uncertain times. Spend some time outside and maybe spend some time standing up in solidarity for something you feel strongly about.
- Minimize your life
Make your room great again... by decluttering your life and decluttering your headspace. You'll feel less overwhelmed when you have less things overwhelming your space. And better yet, you can donate your old things to the Office of Campus Sustainability's Free Store.
The Free Store, located on King Edward, allows you to drop off stuff you don’t want anymore and pick-up things you do want for FREE with a goal of creating a campus where waste is a thing of the past. You can donate and find so many things, including clothing, footwear, towels and blankets, office supplies, kitchen ware, electronics, lamps, textbooks and novels. In doing so, you're keeping reusable items out of landfills and minimizing your own consumer impact.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, there are many services on and off campus for you to access. Talk to someone. I will never stop emphasizing this: you cannot take care of others if you are not taking care of yourself.
Don't get immersed. Get informed. Drink some water. Go to the doctor. Buy a plant. Check your privilege. Call a loved one. Disconnect. Reconnect.
Do something good for yourself and do something good for our earth.