Illustration by Anya Baker.

Feeling sorrow and anger, especially surrounding our current political situation, is absolutely warranted. Sometimes, though, when these emotions take a relentless hold, the strain of carrying them can drain us of the energy we need to survive, fight, and organize with others. If you’re triggered by our devastating political reality, please know that you’re far from alone. Whatever the current U.S. government claims, you are not unwanted, you are not a burden. And if you do find yourself thinking about harming yourself in any way, please call any of the helplines on this list by Your Life Counts.

Living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder means I’ve had to create ways to deal with the dissociation, nightmares, and flashbacks that are part of the disorder. The suggestions in this care pack are just some of the things that have helped me in times of deep sorrow and anger, and I hope they’ll help anyone suffering. We can move through our heavy emotions in ways that are healthy, creative, and nurturing to our brains and hearts.

1. Carry some healing crystals.

I came across healing crystals after finding this amazing shop a few years ago, and I continue to use them daily. While some may not believe in the healing energy of crystals, having them around and knowing what they represent helps me keep my mind clear and focus on the good that surrounds me, rather than solely on what’s going wrong in my everyday life. Here are some I particularly like:

Vesuvianite (aka idocrase): I use this when I’m trying to balance or stabilize my emotions and/or break up the cycle of anxiety and depression-inducing thoughts. I grab vesuvianite when I know there’s room for overthinking a situation, or when I feel a panic attack coming on.

Howlite: I find this crystal most helpful when I’m having a political conversation with someone who has beliefs that only hurt me and other politically disenfranchised people. I find this crystal helps me put my immediate frustration aside so that I can articulate my point.

Black tourmaline: This crystal is definitely my staple—I bring it with me everywhere I go, without exception. I work at a drop-in center for people living under the poverty line, and I find this crystal comes in handy when I need to listen to people’s stories without becoming completely emotionally distraught.

Hematite: This crystal especially helps me manage the flashbacks and disassociation that come with C-PTSD. According to Charms of the Mind, hematite works by breaking up and dissolving any negative energies and emotions. It can also help with staying attached to your surroundings and keeping a clear head.

I personally believe that healing crystals do hold special energy, but whether or not that is true is not the point here! If you want, keep these special gems in your pocket wherever you go. I keep mine in my bag on campus and under my pillow when I sleep, since my C-PTSD gives me quite a few nightmares. Just knowing I have them with me is incredibly calming and offers me a healthy way of coping with a variety of emotions and energy. You can typically buy crystals for around $3 from small spiritual shops, or through online stores.

2. Compile a playlist of songs to jump around to.

When I’m anxious or feeling really bad, the main thing I want to do is listen to high-energy music way too loud—on the subway early in the morning, after midnight, making breakfast, really any time. Connecting with songs that bring out the anger or sorrowful feelings inside you is a very beautiful experience! I have this playlist of my go-to songs that I can turn to when I’m feeling a lot all at once.

Tobacco – “Streaker (KEXP version)”
Cherry Glazerr – “Told You I’d Be With the Guys”
So Pitted – “Woe”
The Garden – “Vexation”
Cherry Glazerr – “Nurse Ratched”
Surf Cactus – “Old Lovers”
A Tribe Called Red – “Burn Your Village to the Ground”
Tobacco – “Gods in Heat”
Cherry Glazerr – “White’s Not My Color This Evening”
Soko – “Ocean of Tears”

Your playlist can include anything that helps you release those gross feelings caught in your chest. Whether you manage that via classical music or heavy EDM, put together whatever works for you. Don’t hesitate to scream, jump up and down, spin in circles, and blare it as loud as you can whenever feels right to you.

3. Watch videos that remind you of the beauty that’s still here.

Finding inspiring and beautiful videos to watch never fails to overwhelm me with the absolute best feeling, sometimes they even help me get out of bed.

The videos listed here have brought me out of creative blocks and bad days filled with sadness and anxiety. I recommend watching them first thing in the morning, maybe during breakfast or when you’re getting ready, just because it feels beautiful it feels to start the day with inspiring art.

DIIV’s music video “Wait. The VHS-style shots accompanied by the beautiful dreamy song reminds me of all things light and full of love and happiness.

Patti Smith’s advice to the young. This absolute angel talks about how to keep going as a young creator while being incredibly honest about the ups and downs of life. Seeing this video for the first time nearly made me cry, because you can tell she has so much wisdom and love inside her.

Soko’s music video “Ocean of Tears. Finding yet another angel through this video when it came out nearly changed my world. Her homemade video instills this “Woah, I’m not alone! This is so me!!!!!” feeling.

This playlist of StyleLikeU’s “What’s Underneath” project. This is one of the smartest, most beautiful projects I’ve come across. Interviewees answer incredibly personal questions while taking off their clothes—not in a sexual or objectifying way, but as though saying, “This is who I am. This body is my home, and I will not apologize for it.”

The ending of It’s Kind of a Funny Story. A last message of hope at the end of a movie about a boy who checks himself into a psychiatric ward because he’s unbearably depressed and suicidal.

Create your own video playlist by compiling whatever inspires and empowers you—someone documenting their day-to-day life, showing their favorites of the month, giving advice, the list really never ends. Make your video playlist your own, filled with whatever you know will make you feel better right now.

4. Journal prompts, if you’re stuck but need to vent and/or create.

I will never, ever stop telling people that aren’t feeling well emotionally to write. Nothing in your journal has to be well-written, the only requirement is to release stagnant feelings. Here are a few prompts that have helped me expel emotions I sometimes didn’t even know I was carrying with me.

  • What is your relationship to light?
  • When do you feel the most empowered?
  • Talk about the color blue until your hand aches.
  • Listen to your favorite song and write messy sentences without thinking, write anything that comes to mind.
  • Describe your favorite memory in colors and sounds.
  • Describe your worst memory in colors and sounds.
  • Write a letter to the people you love the most.
  • Write a letter to someone who has done you wrong.
  • Write down everything that upsets you, then burn the list.
  • Write down everything that makes you happy, then tape the list over your bed.

If you have the support system, do these journal prompts with friends and share your pages of rambling and shaky handwriting with them. It is so beyond therapeutic to express words alone, then open them up and share with the people who love you.

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Your anger, rage, and sorrow in response to this political situation are not invalid or uncalled for, but it’s crucial to express these feelings so we can still feel like ourselves. And when we look after and nourish ourselves, we become more capable of helping others in need. ♦