First of all, calling it “Election Season” is a misnomer. It’s Election Year. By the time this is all over, it will have been about a year and a half. Now, I realize I live in a politically-charged city (Chicago) and work in a very politically-involved town (Evanston) but I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this election is weighing heavily on people’s minds, no matter where you stand in any party, no matter what city or town you happen to spend time in. It’s very rare to happen upon anyone who feels “meh” about the current state of affairs.
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:
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:
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:
4. Find non-food or drink-related “rewards” or “comforts”. Rather than reaching for the booze or cookie or Chinese food, find another kind of treat that makes you feel warm and fuzzy and relaxed. This could range from:
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:
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 am in no way saying that ignorance is bliss. It’s quite the opposite. Stay informed. I am proposing that you figure out exactly what you need to know to make your choices at the polls while also being a happy, healthy, sane and productive member of society. You won’t be doing anybody any good if you land yourself in the hospital come election day.
*I’m not a doctor but these are well-proven ways to calm down :)