The long run after Brexit

24 June 2016 by Jennifer

Oh, England. Sadness.

Hard years ahead, I think, for all but the richest.

Even those of us who saw it coming, doesn’t mean we’re not still in shock now it’s happened.

(And yes, some people are happy… if that’s you, then this post isn’t really for the you of today…)

Don’t forget to grieve

I’m seeing people saying we must work harder to counter racism and austerity politics.

I salute you, and I feel it too… and I want to add, don’t forget to take time to grieve. And don’t forget to take care of ourselves and each other.

Doubling down on doing things, and forgetting the selfcare, and forgetting to grieve – it’s a recipe for burnout. There’s a “long run” ahead. We need to not burn out quick, but build steadily for the long term.

On a dull mauve-grey background, in an old-style print font, the words "Take time to grieve". Behind the words, there's a faint decorative capital T and a faint engraving of flowers (both from an old book).

These are just suggestions…

Some possible ways to cherish ourselves and each other at this moment in history…

  • Cry.

  • Hug a friend, if you have a friend nearby and you both like hugs.

  • Don’t forget to eat. I find when I’m grieving, I can’t always eat like normal. This might be a good time to stock up on foods you know help you feel better – whatever those might be – if you can afford it.

  • If you like reading, find some escapist reading for when you need a holiday from this world. Maybe take a trip to the library, or revisit an old favourite book. If you want to cry and can’t, pick a sad story.

  • Same if you like films.

  • If you can’t concentrate, or your short term memory’s gone all wonky, be aware that these, like sadness or anger, can be aspects of grief. Give yourself loads of slack if you’re not functioning quite right at the moment.

  • Get extra sleep, if you can.

  • Put some music on, either to express your mood or to uplift your mood. Maybe sing along, maybe dance.

  • Maybe write about your feelings. It doesn’t have to be for anyone else to read. Just writing stuff down for yourself, as a kind of conversation with yourself, can help.

  • If you can, get outside to somewhere green for a while, and don’t look at the internet while you’re there.

  • If your room’s untidy, pick up one thing and put it away, as a tiny present to future you.

  • This could be a nice time to give (or send, if you can afford a stamp) a card to a friend, or to someone who’s helped you – especially if they’re someone who’ll be worse affected by the Brexit fallout than you will.

  • Maybe make something. (If you’re not much for arty stuff, maybe just take a bit of paper, fold it up, draw a cat or a flower or a tree on the front, write some love inside for someone.)

  • Or maybe plant a seed, as a gift to the future. I don’t mean a metaphorical seed, I mean an actual seed of a plant. If you don’t have a garden, maybe you can plant a seed in a park or a roadside verge.

  • Whatever you normally do in terms of healthcare for yourself – like taking meds, exercise, bedtime routine, going for a walk – put a bit of extra attention on making sure to keep those routines going.

  • If you feel angry, try to make sure it’s coming out in a constructive direction, and not just accidentally falling on whoever’s around, or whoever’s easiest to blame.

  • Take the opportunity to laugh, either about comical moments in the middle of seriousness, or just about random stuff. Laughing and crying are both good for you.

And yes, do speak out. Do help people worse off than you. [Edited to add: if you’re white, be aware that overt racism has just had a huge boost, which all your friends of colour will be feeling.] Do give time and money in tiny or big amounts to organisations supporting refugees and other vulnerable people. But don’t make that your only way of feeling better, instead of the other kinds of nurturing.

Remember, part of the austerity rhetoric is precisely about productivity being the only kind of value that counts. Resist it. Selfcare is political. Rest is political.

Extra love to everyone who’s reeling and/or grieving and/or scared.