Jorge complained that he’s been feeling stressed out more often this year than ever before. Although he’s been practicing stress reduction techniques and meditating more, the anxious feelings continue. Just as he gets his emotions under control, something happens to trigger more stress.
My friend told me that he was out with his husband to celebrate Jose’s birthday. As the couple enjoyed their special dinner, a patron at a nearby table loudly insulted them with a violent racist remark. This surprised both men because they didn’t expect overt racism in the relatively progressive city of Denver.
Fortunately the incident did not escalate and the patron finished his meal and left the restaurant. Still, the hateful action left Jorge and Jose shaken and worried. Ever since then the two have been more wary and have taken greater precautions when they’re away from home.
Of course, Jorge and Jose not only worry about anti-Hispanic activity, there is a resurgence of overt homophobia lately. I told my friend that I’ve been thinking about that a lot, too. The fact that the current President and many in his cabinet appear to encourage racism and homophobia is very worrisome indeed. Their attitudes encourage people in the general population who harbor similar attitudes to strongly express their own prejudices.
We, who have been the target of bullies and racists, instantly recognize toxic people. It’s a reflexive reaction that we cannot help. Jorge reminded me that our adversaries know that they can use our own stress against us. There are numerous angry people who don’t like differences. We do notice the neo-Nazis, Klan members, and dominionist religionists who do not like living in a pluralistic society.
I gently reminded Jorge that we were both getting worked up. We needed to dial back our emotions. I share his deep concerns about the negativity that engulfs the nation. In order to keep my life on an even keel, it’s necessary to step back and release my concerns. No, I don’t want to forget them altogether, that would be unwise. The fact is, that I have a life and have more positive priorities.
Jorge agreed, he likes to go for walks around the neighborhood with his husband or a friend. They agree to discuss positive topics. My friend is also a big advocate of practicing gratitude, too. I mentioned that meditation, even mini-meditations are the main ways I release stress. It’s also helpful that some folks share their pets with me. Just being near a dog or a cat calms me down.
Keeping life’s concerns balanced and in perspective helps us to be more calm. This, in turn, helps us to sleep better. We need sleep to help our immune systems. We also handle problems better if we’re well rested and refreshed.
Jorge understands that he needs to get his worries off his chest, but not get too worked up by doing so. He is becoming more aware of his limits. Sometimes we forget those limits and go overboard. That’s when we need to remember to take a long time out and do something creative and constructive.
I suggested that a walk in the crisp autumn air would serve us well. Jorge agreed.