Women are empathetic as fuck. I know this because if I’m being truly connected with myself, opening all lines of inner communication I can feel where my own body has absorbed the traumas of the world around me. In a time of the #MeToo movement, living in a country ruled by a sexual predator, and daily updates of unfolding cases of rape and sexual misconduct — our traumas go beyond those that have physically touched us.
In conversation with a friend seeking advice as to why she was so timid around those of the opposite sex, my own feelings were mirrored through her experiences. A few years free of a bad breakup, she was ready to jump into the dating pool once again, only her shyness was less a charming quirk and more an alienating aside. She had not been physically affected by sexual assault, however, it’s easy for me to believe as women we have all been victims of abuse in a mental capacity (so often in forms that go unnoticed), if not a physical one. As she spoke, my theory found its words. Bear with me.
Women absorb. We are constantly absorbing the emotions of our surroundings, picking up nuances of pain felt by our loved ones, violence towards our superior Mother Nature, and drinking in energies we can’t even detect until we feel the exhaustion roll through us. A 1995 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology showed that women involuntarily imitate the emotional expressions of others. A characteristic we can blame on our brain’s “mirror neurons” that initiate us to match the emotional state or energy level of another being. Now on high alert, I see this play out in all the women around me as many of my close friends mention a feeling of being drained, only they can’t quite pinpoint why. Worse, so many women in my life, including myself have expressed symptoms of depression onset by the current state of our culture.
Don’t get me wrong, these are growing pains that we must endure to find the change we seek. These movements for women to gain the justice they deserve are necessary, and we feel for them, all of us feel so deeply for the sadness, suppression, and shame they’ve carried.
It’s a beating-the-dead-horse example, but it’s truly the clearest line I can draw. When Trump was voted into office, it was days that I cried on and off, not because my team had lost, but due to the fact that I felt a huge chunk of my chosen country (I could be in Canada right now with Trudeau, and yes why aren’t I?) did not respect the welfare, and preservation of its female population. I no longer felt safe, or welcome for that matter. This emotional rollercoaster has followed me ever since, often feeling completely drained on days when I spend extra time debating whether Aziz Ansari was in the wrong or not (I strongly believe he was, don’t open this can of worms), or if all our favorite Hollywood folks were, in fact, hiding Weinstein’s secrets for him. These sound so surface but they are the truest representations of what goes on in every level of our society.
While the world seems on the brink of destruction and in a constant Twitter war of ill-resourced tactics we probably don’t even clock how much the acts of the greater establishments are adding to our daily stress levels. When our body is prompted to feel uneasy it releases stress hormones called adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol which have some heavy affects on our physical self. This state wears on your nervous system and lowers the immune system making us more prone to illness. It can also lower our inner-mechanics ability to detox itself, allowing more gunk to build up in the body like mucus, and waste leaving us feeling sluggish, lethargic, and even *ding, ding, ding* depressed.
Women are also fucking resilient. Even in times of fear, we find it within ourselves to be resourceful and build a space for ourselves when one isn’t offered. That void you’ve been feeling for months, maybe years, it’s your empathy taking on the traumas of our sisters, our Earth, and all the female energies that have been wronged for much longer than we have been a feminine figure on this planet.
Ways I’ve found that have helped me level the effects of these second-hand traumas are:
By setting boundaries for myself with my intake of information. While being a “woke” member of this society is very important to me, I need to listen to myself about how much is too much. For example, I have personal trigger points that I cannot ignore.
That leads me to: be aware of trigger warnings. This doesn’t have to just be when it comes to the news you’re ingesting, but also when you’re out in the world. If something might be triggering for you, you absolutely do not have to do it.
By creating a safe space within my intimate community to hash out all the feelings. So many feelings. Sharing our current states, and talking it out was what lead me to realize a commonality between those close to me and the world around us as it is.
By finding time to turn off. Spending more time outside, and not in the presence of news alerts has helped me massively. If I take time every day to be in the quiet of nature, it recharges me to come back into 2018.
A few things helping ground us & keeping us happy during these weird times:
1. Ayurvedic massage oil to keep our body calm and balanced 2. five-minute journal to keep us conscious 3. face masks for self-care (duh) 4. Home cleansing kit to keep us zen in our mental and physical spaces 5. Ashwagandha as a natural depression fighter, hormone balancer, and mood booster!