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Getting Through Political Season Without Going Crazy

This is a really bold topic, I know. But before you go any further I want you to know this is not a post intended to sway you one way or another. During the last election I watched a lot of news and talked a lot about politics. And I just kept getting confused, upset, sad, but never happy.  As a person who is trying to life a “fit” life (and remember this extends to your mental fitness as well), it doesn’t make sense for me to continuously engage in activities that don’t make me happy. Yes, I know I need to be informed. Yes, I do vote. But there are ways to be informed and there are ways to make yourself go absolutely nuts. What I want to share with you is how I found ways to be educated, still remain friends with people, and not go crazy.

Ditch opinionated platforms.

I spent a lot of time on Facebook during the election (and of course there is the whole ordeal they have going on) and I read a lot of people’s opinions.  Some that surprised me, some that I agreed with, but mostly ones that got me really riled up regardless of who they were talking about. I realized that the more I was looking at Facebook (Twitter to me is the same depending on who you follow of course but that’s not my platform of choice), the more stressed, fearful, and angry I felt. I had to take a step back and think “Is listening to all this chatter really going to be good for me to figure out who to vote for or to become more educated?” The answer, for me at least, was no. It was just causing me to be angrier, confused, and pitted me against people who I liked. Yes, I did unfriend very radical people on both sides, but they were mostly acquaintances I did not really know but ended up being on my Facebook from years ago, not people I knew and was close to.  This is also a good time to maybe clean up your followers/those you follow.  I realized that I didn’t want just anyone to see my life on social media, so I got rid of people I did not feel close to any more.  I promise you, they probably won’t miss you either (but not because you’re not awesome, just because our web sometimes just gets a little stretched over the years).

Read it, don’t watch it.

This has been a big one for me. I don’t know what it is about watching the news but it really puts me on edge. I have no idea how people can watch it all day every day. To me, especially the national news, tends to be constantly negative. Local news occasionally talks about a good deed or a puppy saved every now and then. I am an anxious person by nature and watching the news really gave me a lot of anxiety. My husband is big on watching it but I would either distract myself with something else or go watch one of my shows in another room. He was super considerate after I shared this with him and got most of his information from SiriusXM radio instead of watching it (he is the best!).  Now I know you are going to argue with me and say that I still need to be informed! And I agree! I chose to read my news using various sources but one of the ones that kept me informed and was also entertaining was theSkimm.  It kept me up to date with way more that what was going on in the political world and was often just a place for me to start my research.  It really helped me stay up to date, make an informed decision, and not feel on edge all the time.

Sometimes you feel really small in this big world, but you can and do make a difference.

Regardless of whatever the political outcome is, it can leave you feeling helpless. It can make you feel like your vote does not matter or even make you feel like nothing you can do will really make an impact anywhere. Well, you are wrong. You make a difference every day. In your life. In your pet’s life. In your family’s life. In your work life. Find ways to make an impact in your community. Maybe you should volunteer for a good cause. I joined the Junior League of Charlotte and it has really helped me see that I can make a difference and I am loving that our focus this year is on school readiness. Charlotte public schools really struggle but I know that I make a difference and my organization makes a difference by volunteering and helping this oh so worthy cause. Find a shelter and go walk the dogs. Sign up for Meals on Wheels.  Find something that makes you feel good and dive into that. Politics will be politics but your impact by giving back will not only fill you with a sense of purpose and joy but will inspire others and maybe show both parties that it really isn’t so bad.

I share these with you because it’s so easy to get lost in this political jungle. Opinions are thrown around, people are fighting through screens, and friendships/relationships are being destroyed by it. Don’t fall prey to the negativity and try to find a way to brighten the lives of others around you and remind people (and yourself) that people are good and that it’s really going to be all right.

How do you handle political season? Remember, this is a safe space but not a forum for debate! I want to be positive and share how we can all make this world a better place no matter what your political opinion may be.

 

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3 Ways to Support a Loved One From a Distance

Growing up your parents always told you that your sibling was your first friend.  In my case my first friend came out about 4 years after I did, so was pretty excited and apprehensive.  Fast forward to today, we have weathered our parents’ divorce, lived thousands of miles away from each other, talked and laughed until we cried, and hugged it out or punched it out depending on the day.  Today things are a little different because he and I are both adulting but I had tried to take the role of a third parent to try to guide him.  I have shed many tears, carried lots of stress internally, and even popped a few pimples because of my worries.

This doesn’t just happen with family, but can also happen with our closest friends. It’s a fine line that we walk on between wanting to be helpful and being a complete enabler.  I made many excuses for him to my parents, justified what he did, and even insisted that they were not being considerate enough when talking to him.  It took me a long time to realize that I was not helping him, I was enabling him to continue on the path he was on.  Now mind you, my brother is not addicted to hardcore drugs or anything like that, but addiction comes in many forms and so do enablers. I put my foot down not too long ago with great difficulty, but it has changed my life for the best.  I love him and will always be there for him, but I cannot continue letting him steal my happiness if he is not willing to help himself.

He may be mad about me posting this, but this is a way for me to cope and hopefully the light I shed on the ways our relationship has changed will help someone who’s struggling with supporting their loved one from a distance.

 

Be a Supporter, not an Enabler

Ever seen the show Intervention? It was one of my favorites when I was in college.  I had to close my eyes with all the needle parts, but it was fascinating.  The show highlighted addicts but it also showed the enablers that fed into the addict’s lies and helped them ultimately get what they wanted.  Now, I am not throwing shade at these people because when you love someone, you’ll do anything to help them and see them happy.  But at what cost? Stop and ask yourself every time you think of sending/lending money to that person if you are sending it to them because you know they will be using it for what’s right? If it’s groceries they need, get them a grocery store gift card.  If they need some things for school, send them an office supply store gift card or an Amazon.com one.  Don’t be fooled by elaborate stories they tell you otherwise you’re only hurting them, not helping.

Set Boundaries

Think of this as your “terms and conditions.” When I finally decided enough was enough, I had to create some boundaries.  I wanted to make sure he knew that I was serious and that he had to meet my terms and conditions before I will speak to him again.  I told him to please only contact me if he has made the right steps needed to better himself and his life.  This put the ball in his court because he knows clearly what I want, and what I will ask him about if he does decided to contact me. I was always running around alongside my mom trying to pick up the pieces for him, offering to help him get a job where he was, but all it did was stretch me thin and cause stress.  You have to remember that you can’t help those who are not ready to help themselves, but you can help jump start their recovery by setting some clear boundaries.

Open Up, Don’t Bottle Up

Ever seen a volcano explode? Me either, but when I see it on TV or online I realize the amount of damage that it causes to surrounding areas.  That’s what happens when you bottle things up.  We all, especially women, like to think we are so strong and can handle anything without having to talk about it.  And then one day a lady cuts in front of you at the pharmacy and YOU LOSE YOUR SHIT.  Normal? I think not, but I’m sure it’s happened to every one of us.  Talk it out.  It doesn’t matter who you choose to talk to about it but it’s important that you share how you are feeling for YOUR sanity and also bounce ideas off of a somewhat objective party.  As fantastic as my fiancé has been with supporting me through this, my boss has been a great blessing as well.  He’s gone through similar stuff so that helps to talk to him. Can’t tell you the times that he’s made me feel like I was not going crazy.

Remember the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  If what you’ve been doing to cope with your sibling or friend’s issues has not been working, STOP AND REEVALUATE! Talk it out, find a new way to support them, or just step back from the situation all together.  Though these choices may be hard, they are necessary and could possibly save your loved one in the end.

Have you dealt with a friend or family member that it has been difficult to support because of their choices? Share your story below or leave some suggestions!