I admit I have been feeling a lot of anxiety. I do not like un-constructive confrontation, loud voices (unless I’m at a concert), fighting of any kind (unless it’s on The Americans). I especially hate when people get interrupted. The mere sound of a debate makes my heart stomp inside my chest and reach for the whiskey. Even though I tend to agree with my Facebook friends’ political views, all of the posting and the ranting and the raging make me edgy. And the political ads on TV might one day cause me to break my TV. Thank goodness for Netflix.
Which brings me to you, dear reader. If you are anything like me, you, too, may be noticing you’re acting out from stress. It may very well be from the politics — the inspiration for my post today — or even just from daily life. So here are my top 7 ways to stay calm, keep your blood pressure down and avoid a stress-induced heart attack*.
1. Know your limits. How much time do you spend in front of the news? How much do your friends, family members, coworkers talk about politics day to day? Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, Facebook feeds and the other hundreds of ways our eyes and ears can gain access to current affairs, it’s easy to become oversaturated with noise. Here are a few ways to combat your exposure:
- Turn it down a notch. Instead of getting some form of the news throughout the day, try subtracting your viewing/listening/reading by a half hour. Still too much? Knock off more time until you’ve found your sweet spot.
- Decide exactly what topics you want to be in the know about. Then, skim the paper to see what articles pertain to that and ignore the rest.
- Get your news from sources that don’t add fuel to the fire, outlets that are as unbiased as they can be. A few options: CBS News (the morning show and evening news); The Guardian; BBC News; Reuters; NPR; The Wall Street Joirnal. Some of my clients have also recommended CNN Student News (NOT dumbed down but offers the news without the gore) and USA Today (news lite).
- Ask friends or family members you trust to fill you in on what’s going on.
Now, if you ARE a member of the media or work in politics and policy, the above clearly won’t work for you. But the below can.
2. Create a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual. Is your brain filled with STUFF that makes it hard to fall asleep? Stop drifting off in front of the TV or going to bed right after watching/reading stress-inducing crazy-pantsiness. Take 30 minutes to wind down and shut your brain off. Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Turn off all electronics that have screens at least 30 minutes before bed. I think we all know by now that the blue light can mess with your sleep but it can also screw up your hunger signals. Put the screens away.
- Play some relaxing music while you take the day off like your contacts and makeup, while you floss and brush your teeth.
- Spend some time cuddling with your pets if you have any.
- Crawl into bed to a good non-work book. Try to read for 20 minutes or so.
3. Join the adult coloring book revolution! Coloring is a form of art therapy and can be a mental reset. Here are some fun coloring books to choose from:
- Getting a mani and/or pedi.
- Buying or getting a good book out of the library.
- Writing in a journal — about what’s happening in your life or creative writing.
- Turning on your favorite music and having a dance party in your bedroom/living room/kitchen/anywhere.
5. Meditate right after waking up or right before bed. If you feel like you don’t have time, try waking up or going to bed 5 minutes earlier to make the time. Start with 5 minutes and work from there. Sometimes 5 minutes is enough. And there are apps for that!
6. Shut it down. If Facebook or Instagram are making you ultra stressed out these days, take a break. Shut it down. If you can’t bear the thought of unplugging, here are a few things you can do:
- Limit the amount of times you check your feeds. Again, there are apps for that.
- Block the friends who post the most stomach-dropping news clips/memes/rants on social media.
- Shut your account down and keep in touch with those you really care about the old-fashioned way: email. Or the mega old school way: phone.
7. Last but not least: Exercise. We all know breaking a sweat can do wonders for our state of mind and overall well-being. Find something you love to do, be it lifting weights, spinning, running, kickboxing, yoga. Just try to do something a few times a week that leaves your body feeling really good and your mind clear.
*I’m not a doctor but these are well-proven ways to calm down :)