Sarah Schwegel

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Opening my email inbox is becoming a more daunting task with each passing day. Sometimes I feel as if the only people who have anything to say to me are my legislators and advocacy organizations I support.

I have always been politically active. As a person with a disability, I feel obligated to advocate for disability rights. As a woman, I feel obligated to advocate for reproductive rights and women’s health issues. As a proud American, I feel obligated to advocate for immigrants and refugees since our nation was founded on the very principal of fleeing persecution.

But it seems like now, more than ever, important issues are at stake and civil liberties are on the chopping block. In this time of unrest, how do we, as advocates, decide the actions we take and the issues we focus on? How do we manage meaningful advocacy between work, school, personal responsibility and health?

Few of us are lucky enough to have a job that allows us to advocate on behalf of the issues we are most passionate about, so how do we prioritize what we do when we get home from a long day at work, school or doctor’s appointments? How do we not become overwhelmed with fear and anxiety when looking at the world we are living in?

Over the past month, it has been a struggle to find a balance. But after some trial and error, and reading, I have come up with ways to stay informed and not live in a constant state of anxiety:

  • Unfriend uninformed and disrespectful people on Facebook. If a comment or post is about the current political climate or issues that are important to the world and isn’t well thought out, respectful and informative, the person leaving said comment goes. I don’t have time for ignorance or uninformed opinions.
  • Fill your social media with news rather than people. I have my Facebook and Twitter arranged so thatĀ for every one personal post I see, I get four news stories from reliable sources like The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR and PBS.
  • Limit your time on the socials. I can only read one or two articles before I get too anxious to function. I try to limit my social media time to 15-20 minutes in one sitting.
  • Create a schedule and take action by making calls or writing letters. Don’t try to do everything in one sitting. I make calls on Monday and Wednesday, and do research and share important information on Tuesday and Thursday. On Friday, I go to Paraquad and work with the Public Policy and Advocacy Department to help organize other advocates. While this schedule is manageable for me, it may not be for others. Do what you can.
  • Express your feelings. I’ve taken to blogging and journaling. Other ways include creating art or music or talking. Do what feels right.

This is my call to action to you: take care of yourself, stay informed and be engaged.

Sarah Schwegel is an intern in the Public Policy and Advocacy Department at Paraquad. She can be reached at sjschwegel@gmail.com. or on Twitter at @sarahjschwegel.

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