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14 Ways To De-stress In Chicago During The Trumpocalypse

By Emma G. Gallegos in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 11, 2016 4:00PM

It's been a brutal year for Chicago and Trump's ascension to power means that it's not going to get any easier for us or the rest of the country any time soon. But as anyone who has ever worked in politics can tell you, the fight is a marathon, not a sprint. That means you need to take some time to care for yourself in between reading news about the country's horrors, fighting back against them and eking out a living. For marginalized groups who bear the brunt of a Trump presidency, self care can be a radical concept. It can be as simple as going to bed early, actually not reading the comments or calling a good friend on the phone. (But we also won't judge you if you need to drink your cares away in a dim bar.) The city itself can also be a refuge. We've got a round up of events, places and activities that will help you take care of yourself and recharge for the fight ahead. Or some hotlines for dark days when no one else is around.

And when you've recharged, here's our list of local organizations you can help.

Fall foliage at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool (Photo by Robert Kramer via the Chicagoist Flickr Pool)


ALFRED CALDWELL LILY POND: This pool at the Lincoln Park Conservancy brings a slice of the tranquil Midwestern prairie to the city. It's gorgeously designed by landscape architect Alfred Caldwell. What better place to clear your mind than a space where humans and nature work together in perfect harmony? But visit this week, before it closes for the season.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond is located at 125 W. Fullerton Pkwy., in Lincoln Park

Little dawgs (Photo by Chris Wilson via the Chicagoist Flickr Pool)

DOG PARKS: We like to look at cute dogs on the internet, but it's nice to get offline and offer pats to real-life borking doggos and puppers. Head to one of the city's many dog parks (which are sadly mostly relegated to the North Side). Visits are a great distraction and pick-me-up, and it's cheaper than therapy or actually owning your own (though adopting a therapy dog to survive Trump isn't a bad idea either!)

Garfield Park Conservatory (Photo by Angie McMonigal via the Chicagoist Flickr Pool)

GARFIELD PARK CONSERVATORY: If flora rather than fauna helps you manage your stress levels, head to the conservatory. It's free, warm, accessible and it's full of beautiful exotic flowers. If you want to pop in during the week, they're open until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Bonus destressing: there are free yoga sessions on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays each month from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Bring your own mat.

Garfield Park Conservatory is located at 300 N. Central Park Ave.

YASSSSS BOOKS (Photo by Tom Vasilj via the Chicagoist Flickr Pool)

GRAND STONY ISLAND ARTS BANK: A visit to the library can be a very centering experience. If you haven't been to one of the city's coolest, newest and most beautiful ones, now is the time to visit Theaster Gates' Grand Stony Island Arts Bank. You can check out old Frankie Knuckles records or back-issues of Jet and Ebony. The only hook is that to access the collections, you need to attend a free 30-minute library orientation at 2 p.m. Saturdays or Wednesdays. Of course the converted old bank space that opened last year is so much more than a library. While you're there, you can catch a movie or an exhibit on Bronzeville. Glenn Ligon's neon exhibit "A Small Band" revisits the “Harlem Six,” which were a group of young black men wrongly accused and convicted of murder in the mid-1960s. So this might not be the most escapist way to destress, but sometimes art and history have a way of recharging you for the fight ahead.

Grand Stony Island Arts Bank is located at 6760 S. Stony Island Ave. in Greater Grand Crossing

Chicago Water Taxi heads south(Photo by vxla via the Chicagoist Flickr Pool)

WATER TAXI: For $8, you can get yourself a day pass for the water taxi and enjoy one of the best views the city has to offer (in a city that's full of them). It lacks the sparkling commentary of the more famous Architecture Tour, but if you're feeling reflective, a quiet ride on water just might fit the bill. You can pick up a taxi on Michigan Avenue and ride all the way to Chinatown and back.

You can find details about the Chicago Water Taxi here.

Lake Michigan at Promontory Point (Photo by Jim Watkins Street Photography Gallery via the Chicagoist Flickr Pool)

BIKE THROUGH A PARK: The Lakefront Trail from the North Side to the South Side is an obvious candidate for some meditative, car-free biking (especially as it is less congested as cooler weather sets in). Promontory Point in Hyde Park has breath-taking views and offers secluded picnicking and fire-pit spots. Views from the point make both the downtown Chicago skyline and Indiana to the south look far off, and that might just be the perspective you need. Another option is Humboldt Park, which is consistently quiet, gorgeous and expansive, and there are Divvy stations at each corner. If you want to keep the ride going, the Bloomingdale Trail isn't far away.

The Point is located at 5491 S. Shore Dr. in Hyde Park.

PUBLIC POOLS: In a couple months, the indoor pools will be crowded with people who are taking up a new hobby for their New Year's resolution. Beat them to it with a $25 pass for a month or $40 pass for three months. There's something about swimming in water that can be uniquely refreshing and tiring in a way that grinding away on the treadmill never can be.

You can find a list of the city's indoor pools here.

Starved Rock State Park is beautiful in fall (Photo by Josh Koonce via the Chicagoist Flickr Pool)

STARVED ROCK STATE PARK: Maybe you just really need to get away from all civilization? The drive to Starved Rock State Park will take you about 90 minutes, which makes it a doable day trip, but there's a lodge if you want to stay overnight. You'll find yourself feeling like you're far away from the city in a topography of canyons created by glaciers melting and cutting through the sandstone long ago. Spring is best to see the waterfalls but fall is the perfect time to see the changing colors. Check out the different trail options here.

Starved Rock State Park is located in Oglesby.


LEGHORN CHICKEN: Stress eat for a cause! Since it opened, Leghorn has donated 2 percent of its proceeds to organizations that support gay rights. Its brand is unapologetically socially conscious, making it the anti-Chic-Fil-A. If that wasn't enough, they recently teamed up with Chance the Rapper's little bro Taylor Bennet to offer a chicken-and-waffle sandwich whose proceeds benefit Pride Action Tank.

RED SQUARE: Though it was recently revamped a few years ago and it's no longer just the province of older Russian men, there is something very Old Chicago about Wicker Park's Russian bathhouse. For $30, you get a robe, towel, slippers and entry into the sauna. You can go naked in the single-gendered areas but bring a bathing suit or buy a disposable one for the coed area. (And bring along shampoo, conditioner and soap for afterward.) I'm not sure what the science behind it is, but few things in your life will ever make you feel better than hanging out in the dry sauna, dunking yourself in ice-cold water and then taking a shot of vodka that you've ordered from the bar upstairs. You can add on just about any typical spa amenity you can think of from tanning beds to eyebrow waxes. But for a uniquely Russian spa experience, get a traditional platza for $30, which entails being lightly beaten by a fragrant bundle of birch, oak and eucalyptus leaves. For a little extra, you can get a full body scrub. Finish strong with Moscow Mules and borscht upstairs.

Red Square is located at 1914 W Division St. in Wicker Park, (773) 227-2284

KING SPA: If you don't mind a trek to the Northern 'burbs, you can get a traditional Korean spa experience at King Spa. Entry is $35, but you can usually swing a special or discount on Groupon. That pays for more than a dozen ways to soak, steam and marinate your flesh. Fair warning: "traditional Korean spa" means you will be stripping down to nothing in the gender-divided spa section, where you soak in whirlpools of varying temperatures and jet stream pressure—There isn't much flexibility on these points, unfortunately, so we recommend steering clear if the gender binary causes you more stress. After the spa, you will be given a pair of pajamas to wear in the all-gender area that has several rooms of varying temperatures with more variations of crystals than you'd find at a Jill Stein rally. Even if you don't believe in the healing power of amethyst and find the word "detox" a little woo woo, these rooms are warm and relaxing. You can add on different services, including a scrub that peels a full layer of skin off of you. (It's oddly satisfying to watch the little balls of skin that come off in the scrub.) You can also get massages, manicures, facials or a V-steam (which does in fact steam your "V") if you want to make a day of it. There's Korean food if you get hungry, too. But you can easily spend hours just hanging out in the hot tubs and crystal rooms and come away feeling like something resembling a human.

King Spa is located at 809 Civic Center Dr. in Niles. (847) 972-2540


LOVE UNITES US ALL: There will be plenty of righteously angry protests against Trump's impending presidency (and Standing Rock and police brutality and so many more horrors). But this Saturday, Millennium Park is hosting a kinder, gentler gathering whose aim is love and solidarity. The Facebook event page says, "Let's meet at the heart of our city, and share some of this love to strengthen our people. Let's give out free hugs, send out encouraging words, and remind people that we do not have to hide afraid in the shadows."

Love Unites Us All will be held at Saturday, November 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Millennium Park.

"If you can’t be a human being in public, you take it to a private place” — Simone Leigh (@simoneyvetteleigh) ▫️▫️▫️ I recently read Black Health Matters by Jenna Wortham (@jennydeluxe) in the @nytimes. This is one of the most important pieces I have read all year. Most of what she describes isn't exactly new to me: that news of violence and death of black people can cause severe physiological reactions and life-threatening consequences in those of us who feel the weight and trauma of every instance of abuse or killing we hear of. Collective consciousness, and relieved trauma is real, ya'll. So, self-care and wellness are not light matters for me, and as a collective we need to find accessible ways to cultivate self-care and wellness in meaningful ways. If we can't show our rage, frustration, pain in public, because it is deemed "unacceptable" or anti-white, we must find ways to heal, and to be human with one another in community.

A photo posted by Black Girl In Om (@blackgirlinom) on

BLACK GIRL IN OM: November Self-Care Sunday is a regular monthly event happening in Chicago but the timing couldn't be better. Black Girl in Om is an organization that, through podcasts and social media, promotes self care for some of the people who will be needing it most: women of color. The group has a real-life community in Chicago, and they're meeting this Sunday for "soulful yoga flow, meditation, and reflection." Pre-registration is required and tickets are $20.

Black Girl in OM is hosting November Self-Care Sunday on November 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at REUNION, 2557 W. North Ave. in Humboldt Park

TRANS TURNING POINT: Here's another event that was scheduled before Tuesday's results but feels increasingly necessary with a Trump presidency looming: a free event dedicated to trans resources. Center on Halsted is hosting the event next weekend in coordination with trans-friendly groups and local businesses. They have sessions aimed at improving trans well-being, like yoga, meditation, self-advocacy, nutrition, mindfulness, mental health, legal rights and cuddling. There will also be sessions on gender presentation, like haircuts, skin care and hair removal. (It's worth noting the next day the center will be hosting an event for Transgender Day of Remembrance.)

Trans Turning Point: A Day of Resource Exploration is happening on Saturday, November 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Center for Halsted at 3656 N. Halsted St. You can reserve your free spot here.


Should the above ideas not work and your stress levels get out of control, consider calling one of the hotlines below.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
The Trevor Project (aimed at LGBTQ youth): 1-866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE