Finding Balance In The Time Of Trump

 

By Tammy Severino

Over the past seventeen months, a whole host of changes have taken place in this nation. The changes are not just about a different party at the helm, they are about reversing course to a time in history when life was much more tenuous for women, people of color, the gay community, non-Christians – communities where are, and have always been, easy to be called ‘other’. For many, the current calls to “Make America Great Again’ are nothing short of a dog whistle to embolden those who ascribe to the ugliest times and sentiments in our nation’s history. Further, reversing course on the environment, creating trade wars [that will, ultimately, cause financial pain to those the tariffs claim to help], and other like policies/political actions are alienating our allies and isolating our nation on the world stage.

If we consider a math equation where ‘X’ is all of the above actions and ‘Y’ is the incessant tweeting of the current White House resident, along with the ability to access news 24/7 via an array of modalities, then the sum of these two equals a more extreme stress level than most people have ever before experienced.

Never before have I seen an election result in people ‘disowning’ friends or relatives, complete with unfriending of people on social media, avoiding social situations, or shutting down certain avenues (i.e. social media) altogether. These efforts to avoid friends, family or colleagues who disagree politically [or engage in non-stop discussion about political happenings] is an extreme the like of which has never before occurred in our nation’s history. But then again, 45 is a ‘leader’ unlike any who has ever held the highest office in the land. Personally, I have found myself alternating between absorbing everything I can read and complete avoidance of the news of the day. Both extremes, in truth, are unhealthy.

For many years the concept of work/life balance was all the rage. Working women are still in quest of the elusive perfect balance. I am of the belief that the concept is timely and fitting for what many – perhaps more than half the nation (if votes in the 2016 election are an indication) – are experiencing. In order to survive and thrive until the 2020 election takes place, it is important to find ways to manage stress during the time of Trump.

It is my opinion that all of the things we do to stay healthy – both physically and emotionally – are equally important during this patch of history. Eating well, being physical, getting enough sleep – all of the things your doctor would tell you to do regularly – are even more important right now. However, I have some tips for how to keep stress [related to the goings on of 45] in check. Please feel free to tap into any or all of them until you find the blend that works for you.

Yoga is my great go-to when I feel daily stress getting too intense. It is a great activity for people of any age and any fitness level. A good instructor will offer modified moves for those just beginning their practice, so you need not feel uncomfortable. However, if heading to a local yoga studio is outside your comfort zone, pick up a blue-ray and a mat for your practice at home. As you improve, you may add to your collection with varying routines designed for differing results (focus, relaxation, weight loss, etc.). You may even look for videos on YouTube or other video sights. Keep looking around until you find an instructor who works for you (tone of voice, pace, background music, etc.). When you know you have a stressful day ahead, try 30 minutes of yoga to help you maintain your composure and balance throughout the day. Or, conversely, use it to unwind after a particularly challenging experience. Other practices, including meditation and Reiki also offer the ability to less the stress dissipate and leave your body. You may elect to use one or all to find the right blend for you. A gym workout will help increase endorphins, channel energy and enhance your physical state. It is a different release than yoga or meditation but is definitely a positive to help you achieve a reduction in stress.

It is important to limit how much time you spend soaking up his activities and actions. While I do believe it is important to be educated and informed (which will limit stress caused by being uninformed), try limiting the amount of time you spend watching/listening/reading the news. Try a local channel for updates on news happening near your home versus all of the national activities. While in the car [or other mode of transportation], put on a playlist or favorite music station. Try to avoid keeping the news on all day. You may not be listening to him directly, but hours upon hours of talking heads and panels discussing his every move will be just as damaging. Listening to your favorite songs, books on tape, or other non-news entertainment will focus your mind on something more positive. In the same vein, head into your settings for ALL of your devices. Turn off the push notifications for all of your news outlets. There is no reason to get an update every time he orders another fast food burger and fries or angers yet another ally.

Try allocating regular time for something social with people who make you laugh. There are few things more beneficial for the soul than laughter. I think the friends with whom I am closest are those who can make me laugh – even on the gloomiest of days [you know who you are]. If need be, set a rule that there will be absolutely no political talk during your time together. You will find that the time will be spent discussing entertainment, books, family, sports, shopping, travel…all of the social things you have in common that brought you together as friends in the first place. If you happen to disagree politically, it may also save your friendship.

Take time for yourself. We don’t often spend time just being with ourselves. Sometimes it can be absolutely refreshing to go for a walk, a drive, a swim…whatever you like to do…all alone. It will allow you to think and, perhaps, think an issue weighing on you more clearly. If you are able, try not to think at all. Rather, just be in the moment. That is by far more challenging but will allow you to release more stress.

If none of these tips provide you with sufficient help – enough to feel in control of your anxiety levels during this time, please seek help. Finding the right professional can make all of the difference in your life. He/she will work with you to find ways to regain control and move forward in a positive manner. There is no shame in seeking help. In fact, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

It is important to note that you are not alone. Following the election and inauguration of Trump, the American Psychology Association reported that, for the first time in over a decade, stress and anxiety levels among Americans had a marked increase. More than sixty-six percent of adults in the nation reported increased stress levels about the future and direction of our nation under his leadership. Those are remarkable levels. However, it is important to note that he has woken up many in the country who realize sitting on the sidelines is not a good plan of action. More women and people of color have registered to run for local, state and national elections than ever before. People who have never volunteered are getting involved. And, for those who are neither campaigning or volunteering, remember that your vote counts. Be heard and be counted. If you chose not to vote last time, please don’t make the same mistake in ’18 or in ’20.

Remember, the greatest thing the Founding Fathers did was create a system of checks and balances. We elect a President and in 2020 we will elect another. America is not just a place; it is an idea. That idea is not lost…it just took a wrong turn. So, don’t let your stress get out of control. Take steps to claim power in your own life and, if you see another who needs help in doing the same, be a friend and offer a hand. We are in this together.

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Tammy Severino is a writer, marketer, development consultant and professional seeker of knowledge. When not with her family – both the bipeds and quadrupeds – she spends her time reading, writing, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and exploring new ideas.

Healing in Heels

With 2018 around the corner and many women looking to make some changes in their food and lifestyle habits, I decided to interview Melissa Botten, a wellness guru who incorporates holistic healing through food and movement with her company, Healing In Heels.

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LR: What made you decide to start Healing In Heels?

MB: I literally looked down at my swollen, arch-damaged feet and decided I needed to heal them. I was wearing high heels that day – really cute expensive ones that I found on sale – and I realized I was ready to leave my career in corporate fashion and work on healing my feet and healing in general. I started doing lots of research on Plantar Fasciitis, bunions, and herbal remedies for feet. I found ways to treat my swollen toes, mend my damaged heels, and improve the sides of each foot. Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to a woman who has since become like a mother to me. We began working on her healing journey by eliminating meat, dairy, sugar, and processed foods from her diet. With the elimination of those items, we added strong vegan proteins, lots of nutrient-dense foods, and meditative breathing. She was super dedicated to trying anything I recommended to her and saw positive results quickly. Within a couple of months, she went from having difficulty breathing and thinking she was going to die, to doing yoga, hosting gatherings, taking long walks, and laughing with her friends again.

LR: That’s great! Have you always loved cooking and experimenting in the kitchen?

MB:  I started cooking with my dad and grandmother when I was a little girl. They taught me recipes that are special to our family. As I got older, I started learning about different Italian dishes from my aunts and uncles who lived in New York. So I guess we really are a family of chefs! My company, Healing in Heels, grew out of my desire to help people heal through yummy cuisine, organic and natural herbs, and colorful presentation. After all, food should be good for you and delicious, but it should be beautiful too.

LR: How do you make healthy taste so delicious? Do you have any favorites or “Go-To” meals for busy women on the go?

MB: That can be challenging for anyone! You know, I’ve been at this for a few years professionally, but I have been using cooking as a modality for healing my mind and body my whole life. I’ve learned the fresher and more natural the ingredients are, the more delicious the food is to even the most discriminating client’s palate. Anything you can put on collard greens or in a vegan gluten-free wrap with fruits and vegetables is probably my favorite Go-To meal. I also enjoy making muffins with five simple ingredients. They’re so amazing, I’m afraid to leave my house at night with a basket of them because someone might accost me just for those darn muffins!

LR: I need to try the muffins! What about women over forty? How does healthy eating help?

MB: Women in their 40s, 50s, or even their 60s are all experiencing different hormonal shifts and trying to figure out the necessary steps to get them through these stages in their lives. There’s definitely a transition with each decade and for some, it’s easier than for others. Our hormones can be really out of whack from things like childbirth and menopause or acute and chronic stress and medications. It can be difficult to regulate our body temperatures, keep our bones strong, and ensure all our parts inside – big and small – function properly. In addition to this, a lot of women feel their emotions and stress levels are hard to control and are exhausted emotionally, mentally, and physically. A good place to start is by adding nutrient-dense food, herbs, and spices to their diet to either help prevent or minimize some of these symptoms. Teaming up with Mother Nature is great because even if you don’t feel like something is working or it’s taking too long, you’re still making healthier choices in your daily routine and getting a vitamin or two out of it as an added perk! If targeted nutrient food healing is needed, that’s where I’d suggest a customized diet or menu for helping to heal specific ailments in the body.

LR: You’re a single mom of two. How do your girls influence your work?

MB: My children influence everything! I made a conscious decision when I decided to really take charge of my life and embark on a journey of healing. I healed from the loss of my parents and my divorce. I healed insecurities from past relationships that had been hindering my growth. I knew that I had to follow a path that was true to who we are as a family and who I am as a person – one that would influence healthy living for the three of us – especially since my girls were still so small at the time. If I keep the house positive and make it a nurturing environment then that’s what the girls are going to experience and want to emulate when they’re older too. When I’m consistent they feel safe and comfortable. I’m selective when it comes to food we keep in the refrigerator and in the kitchen, but I offer the girls choices and explain the reasons behind each option. I don’t believe in depriving them of things to eat but we do limit our indulgences to an acceptable level that works for our family’s needs.  Both of them volunteer with me in the community, help me cook, clean up around the house, and care for our dogs. We create recipes together, we paint together…I really do credit them for a lot of my inspiration, creativity, and success.

LR: I know you’re based in Southern California, but you are able to Skype and travel to clients all over the country, right? How do people contact you for a consultation?

MB: Yes, I’m based out of Long Beach, California. Ideally, I prefer to meet people in person because one-on-one connecting is vital when a woman is choosing a supportive partner to help in her healing journey. However, I know some people live in other cities and states so I offer consultations over the phone, via FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom too. Curious friends, new referrals, or prospective clients can find me at my Healing In Heels website or through social media on my Instagram or Facebook pages. There’s a contact form they can submit which goes directly to me. After I receive it, I’ll reply and we can discuss the next steps to connect.

LR: What’s a typical weekday for you? Is there such thing in your line of work?

MB:  It differs slightly depending on the day. I share custody of my children with my ex-husband but I’m very involved in their day-to-day and after-school activities. Plus, we have two puppies so the needs of the dogs are also figured into my schedule. Weekdays are reserved for clients when the kids are in school. I coach over the phone or in person and do home visits too. Some days, I may have a private cooking lesson scheduled with an individual client I’m coaching or a group I’m teaching. Since so much of my volunteering, special event guesting, and community projects are done on weekends, I’m also mindful to keep one day a week just for myself so I can do things that nurture my own soul like meditation, yoga, and roller skating.

Make time for yourself. Yes, really.

Self care _Lipstick-Republic

 

Self-care seems to be the phrase du jour right now and rightly so. It’s about time humans started realizing the importance of loving themselves. I know that for me, personally, it’s difficult to fill other people’s cups when my own pitcher is running on empty. Women are taught from a very young age to nurture and care for others – from our toy dolls we bathe and clothe in tiny outfits, to our Easy-Bake ovens with a nod to society’s gender roles surrounding a woman’s place being in the kitchen.

One of the classes I lead centers around the need for Self Love and Self Care. Not surprisingly, many women feel guilty or embarrassed to think they deserve either of these things. They have learned to put themselves last on the ladder and everyone else in their lives above them – husbands, boyfriends, parents, children, even their pets. Often, this turns into resentment, anger, or even sadness. It’s truly a beautiful thing — that moment during the workshop when I see the light in a woman’s eyes change and I know that she finally gets it and understands that she is worthy of love and care. Just as with career professionals needing to take continuing credit classes for their respective fields, it’s imperative that women take time to recalibrate and decompress from Life’s daily grind.

Here are a few simple examples of rituals that aren’t complicated but will touch a part of you that you’ve forgotten to nurture. They will make you reflect on simple joys and they will offer you a glimpse of the beauty that your soul needs to experience regularly in order to thrive. They range from ten minutes to several hours. None of them are exhausting physically or emotionally. ALL OF THEM will show you the importance of creating time for yourself.

  • Sit outside and look at the stars or the clouds and just appreciate the vastness of the Universe and time.
  • Take a different route to work, to the grocery, or somewhere you go regularly. The change of scene is a nice break from your routine.
  • Laydown on the grass, the sand, or the yoga mat and try to connect with the Earth. Close your eyes and imagine roots spreading down through your body below. Let go of all the other stuff above the surface.
  • Get some cuddle time in with your furbaby. Pets are soothing and the touch therapy will be good for you. Focus on the unconditional love your animal has for you. Try to remember to give that same love to yourself.
  • Do you have a garden? If so, go outside and appreciate it, weed it, prune it, cultivate it – whatever. Marvel at its growth and beauty. Sample a succulent fig or find a pretty flower to put in a vase. These are things YOU’VE grown. Be proud of that accomplishment.
  • Take a bubble bath or a linger in a hot shower. Enjoy the water and the time alone. Light some candles, maybe even pour yourself a glass of bubbly. Picture yourself soaking or washing away the everyday stress or issues that are currently bothering you.
  • Draw, color, paint, craft, take some photographs. Use your hands and appreciate that you’re physically able to create. No one expects Picasso or Ansel Adams.  Revel in your own unique abilities.
  • Take a walk outside. Yes, even if it’s just around your block or the neighborhood park. Feel the air outside hit your cheeks or the sun warm your shoulders. Look at the other people you see strolling by. Appreciate the colors and the smells of your neighborhood. Smile at strangers and watch them smile back.
  • Stretch. Even if it’s just before getting out of bed and not necessarily a full yoga or pilates session. Take note of your body’s strength.
  • Breathe in and hold it for a few counts and then exhale. Repeat. Concentrate on your breath and being in the moment. Inhale all the positive in your life and exhale all the negative. Breathing has been scientifically proven to change your brainwaves from betas to alphas.

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Mimi Bergman is a business owner, historian, wife, and mom. She’s an ardent feminist, Zionist, and activist. Mimi is a fourth generation Chicago Cubs baseball fan.