Commentary Politics

Five Ways to Prepare Yourself for the Coming Political Climate

Shonté Daniels

Writing and reading are my saviors in times of turmoil, and to cope with a year like 2016, I return to poet Lucille Clifton’s words in “won’t you celebrate with me,” in which she writes: “come celebrate/with me that every day/something has tried to kill me/and has failed.”

2016 was a year of hardships. After perhaps the most aggressive, divisive, and outrageous election season in U.S. history, winding down over the holiday break may seem impossible. However, time does not stop and January will be here before we know it. In that spirit, here’s a list of ways to prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for the coming attacks on our fundamental human rights under a Trump administration.

Step Away. It’s easy to get lost in the white noise of social media, and the never-ending scroll of news and opinion pieces, so remember to take time to yourself away from the screen. For some, distancing yourself from the computer is a simple task; for others, especially those whose job depends on always being at least connected to the internet, exiting sites like Twitter or Facebook may be more difficult. Luckily there are apps like StayFocused or Self-Control that allow users to pick which sites to restrict and for how long. Similar to those apps, Freedom is a subscription-based product that can be used across multiple devices and browsers that blocks distracting websites.

Entertain Yourself. While avoiding the perpetual buzz of the internet, finding new modes of entertainment to replace it is key. Television shows, podcasts (like our pop culture podcast Get It Right and our storytelling podcast CHOICE/LESS), and bubble baths are all tried-and-true methods for comfort and relaxation, but perhaps trudging through a year like 2016 might require different methods of escape. Video and board games are both great ways to find entertainment, either with friends or by yourself. Game maker Jessica Hayley hosted an event that ran from November 28 until December 5 called “Self-Care Jam,” where game developers came together to create games, comics, poems, and so on with the intention of making people happy. What resulted from a simple objective was 38 different entries of free, pleasure-inducing fun.

Or try this new board game called Untold Stories: The Game, which is meant to give people a chance to tell their personal stories about sex, love, and reproduction honestly and without judgment, and to end the stigma around talking about these topics. No matter what form of entertainment you choose, pick something that will bring a smile to your face, and help you forget, briefly, about what may have been a very stressful year.

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Stay Educated. The best way to prepare for any situation is to study up on current events. When you feel like you’ve stepped away long enough, or have enough tools to provide for a quick escape when needed, it’s time to learn about the issues that may continue to happen in 2017. Donald Trump may be president, but that doesn’t mean he’s the only threat to watch out for. Read up about everyone on Trump’s transition team and their dubious history with anti-choice legislation. It’s also important to understand what may change or go away under Trump’s presidency. For example, the GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Learn about what may happen to health insurance if Obamacare is repealed, or how the GOP’s new tax plan may affect you.

Don’t forget to analyze and critique where you get your news from. Consume your information from actual news sites. Facebook has been criticized for allowing fake news to populate on its platform, so be wary of where information is being published, and by whom.

Protect Yourself (and Your Technology). Shortly after discovering Trump won the presidential election, many flocked to social media to remind those needing birth control to get an intrauterine device (IUD) immediately. Both Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have spoken out against abortion in the past, so obtaining an abortion or even birth control may be much harder in the upcoming year. The Cut has provided a comprehensive guide on different types of IUD’s for those interested in getting one in the future.

Of course, protecting yourself means more than obtaining birth control: It also means securing your personal information from jerks online. Keeping information private in a public space like the internet can be difficult, but luckily there are guides that can help everyone understand how to stay safe online. This year, activists Jaclyn Friedman, Anita Sarkeesian, and Renee Bracey Sherman published Speak Up & Stay Safe(r): A Guide to Protecting Yourself From Online HarassmentThe manual offers tips on a wide range of topics, including setting up two-step verification and creating a virtual mailbox to ensure no one discovers your real address. Keep yourself safe by keeping your phone (and other devices) protected.

Give Back. One of the best ways to fight back against an oppressive regime is by donating to charities and organizations working on the front lines. As Jack Qu’emi Gutiérrez recently suggested, you can consider making a financial contribution to the groups on this list of organizations. Megan J. Smith and Shaya French recommend donating to reproductive justice organizations led by women of color. Additionally, Race Forward has a shortlist of racial justice organizations.

I would be remiss not to mention, at a time when the free press is under attack, that independent media like Rewire could use your support too, now more than ever.

2016 may be ending on a somber note, but there’s still time to prevent the new year from starting in the same tune. Personally, I’m spending the final days of the year reading poetry, which has found ever-growing success this election year.

Writing and reading are my saviors in times of turmoil, and to cope with a year like 2016, I return to poet Lucille Clifton’s words in “won’t you celebrate with me,” in which she writes, “come celebrate/with me that every day/something has tried to kill me/and has failed.”

Preparing for a massive political shift requires all of us to celebrate our survival, and to use that joy to fight together against whatever challenges arrive in the new year.

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