If you have been feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and angry since the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade, you may need time to care for yourself.
I want to validate those overwhelming emotions you may currently feel are completely understandable. Even more so as the last years in the United States have been incredibly traumatic for many – especially for those of us who identify as sensitive.
To support you, I wanted to provide you strategies to care for yourself both literally and emotionally since the Roe v. Wade decision was made.
Care for Yourself Tip 1: If you are feeling powerless or numb, take some time to rest and breathe.
Being told by the Government that as an adult woman you are not in control of your body and reproductive health is an incredible violation of your human rights. This violation may naturally lead to a sense that you are no longer safe.
When this happens, your brain and nervous system may experience a traumatic reaction (fight, flight, freeze). Signs you are having a trauma reaction include feeling numb, panicked, and powerless.
Related: Dating with trauma: what you need to know
This reaction is completely normal and natural. It’s what happens whenever our nervous system and brain perceives a threat to your safety.
To care for yourself once you feel powerless or numb, you must take time to rest and deep breathe. When you pause and breathe into your diaphragm, you send a message to your brain that you truly are safe, and the threat has passed. This will allow you to begin to think clearly again without feeling so depressed or anxious. Taking this time to breathe will allow you to have more bandwidth to continue to take good care of yourself at this time.
If you need support in ensuring you are breathing into your diaphragm to interrupt the trauma response, please watch this video:
Care for Yourself Tip 2: Continue to care for your basic needs because you matter
The decision the Supreme Court made is incredibly disempowering as a woman. This can trigger a feeling that you are fundamentally less valuable, worthy, or deserving than others. You may already carry insecurity within you from past trauma that made you feel “not good enough” which may be triggered. Or just as a woman, you may see that truly, the Supreme Court does not value you.
Related: Why self-care is not selfish
When these feelings get triggered of being “less than,” the natural urge is to neglect ourselves. We self-neglect when we “forget” to eat or drink water. Other forms of self-neglect you may experience are denying yourself enough time to sleep or ignoring your need to wash your face or brush your teeth regularly.
While understandable if you have a sense of being “not good enough” triggered, it is important to not give into these beliefs. No matter what you have inherent worth and deserve basic self-care. This includes caring for your need to rest, hydrate, eat nutritional food, and sleep.
Related: How to take care of yourself: Six simple self-care tips
When you act as a person of worth by caring for your needs, you act out of a fundamental truth. You matter – no matter what – and it’s the Supreme Court who is wrong – not you.
Care for Yourself Tip 3: Honor your feelings of anger
You may have been socialized to believe that feeling anger is wrong, ugly, or “bitchy.” All too commonly, I see women who have learned this who stuff their anger. This leads to intense feelings of depression and anxiety.
Related: How to be a nice girl
All emotions have a gift and anger is no different. The gift of anger is self-protection. This is because we only feel anger when a need is unmet, or a boundary is violated. Therefore, of course, you will naturally feel anger at your rights being revoked.
You can channel the gift of anger by really contemplating the boundaries you need to set at this time to protect yourself fully. A great way to identify your needs and limits is to journal about your anger.
Related: How to set healthy boundaries in a relationship
As the boundary violation though in this case is systemic, the best way to honor your anger is to stay empowered where you can: protesting – including with your dollar, voting, and honoring your immediate reproductive health needs.
Care for Yourself Tip 4: Advocate for condom use
The conversation around abortion makes it seem like this is a “women’s issue.” This is bullshit of course because a woman only becomes pregnant with a male partner.
You can protect yourself and honor the fact it takes a man for a woman to get pregnant by advocating for condom use every time you have sex.
Related: Is casual sex healthy?
Of course, it can be scary to have this conversation. I remember being terrified, at times, that the guy would no longer find me desirable if I asked him to use a condom. Sadly, this led me to sometimes ignore my need for protection from disease and pregnancy. What I learned from these experiences is the anxiety about what may have happened as a result of sex without a condom was much more longer lasting than the anxiety of speaking up.
Furthermore, now I realize that any man who would reject you for asking to use a condom is truly a man who is a boundary violator. At best, he is highly immature and at worst, it’s a sign of an abuser.
Weeding out men who do not care about you by asking to use a condom is truly a gift you can give yourself. This is in addition to the gift of mental peace you give yourself by not worrying about the potential consequences of hooking up without a condom.
Related: What is narcissistic abuse in relationships?
Care for Yourself Tip 5: Find reliable birth control which is easy for you to use
To stay protected, it’s important to find a birth control method which is reliable, easy for you to use, and works well with you with minimal side effects.
You may speak to your doctor about your options, but one strategy is to get an IUD (intrauterine device). These are long-acting birth control devices which are implanted in your uterus by your doctor. It takes just a few minutes for this procedure to take place and even if you feel pain, it’s over quite quickly.
IUDs are a wonderful option and widely used in Europe. However, due to a lack of marketing they are less common in the US.
There are both hormonal and non-hormonal options. You don’t have to think about them once they are inserted (unless there is a rare side-effect). And best of all, they last between 3-6 years and are completely reversible.
Care for Yourself Tip 6: Delete apps and be careful when texting and searching online
Ugh, I hate writing this tip because it highlights what a sickening witch hunt this could all devolve into but I must acknowledge potential reality.
You may have heard that it could be wise to delete your period tracker app. This is because your data can be provided to law enforcement about when you were – and weren’t pregnant. Some apps are promising to protect your privacy while others are less transparent.
However, in a recent NYT article, Ms. Conti-Cook explains there is already a precedent to look at women’s text messages and search histories.
This means if you do find yourself pregnant, you can protect yourself by being mindful of your text messages to others and your searches. Find the information you may need in advance, and create a paper file or digital file for yourself.
Care for Yourself Tip 7: Empower yourself by managing your finances
The more financial health we have, the more options we have.
For example, you may want to calculate costs to visit the nearest state/facility to you which would provide you with a safe abortion if needed. And then create an emergency savings for this.
As of right now, here’s a US map explaining abortion laws by state.
If you know, and have the money prepared, in advance for a potential needed abortion, you are more empowered even in the face of this ruling.
I’m sending you so much love at this time. Please let me know if you have any specific needs, or question, on how to care for yourself.
About The Author, Krystal
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. She has focused her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She teaches the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
Her third book, Self-Love Made Possible: The 5-Step Guide to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy and Become Your Own Best Friend will be released late 2022. To be notified of its release, please join the waitlist here.
Her course, Confidently Authentic: Stop People Pleasing and Start Being True to Yourself, provides the skills necessary to have a healthy relationship. This course features over a year of relationship skills you would learn in therapy. Students share this course has been “life changing.”
Each week, she answers your relationship questions from a place of expertise and compassion. To submit your relationship questions, please DM us @confidentlyauthentic.com or you may send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your question.