If you’re stressed about the US election this week, you’re not alone. Cities are preparing for post- election violence and unrest. As if that wasn’t enough, crisis lines and counseling services have been seeing an increase in demand. So, your election anxiety is justified.
Whatever you are feeling, just let it pass through you. Don’t fight it. This week might be tough. If you’ve voted, are voting, and have spoken out for what you believe in, and done your best to affect change (whether that’s through donations, phone banking, or advocacy — heck, if your best is voting and surviving, that’s cool, too.) After we vote, and do what’s in our power, the rest is out of our control. Do your part, encourage your circle to as well, and take care of yourself this week.
Here are ten things you can do to stay sane this week:
- Unplug– do not stay glued to your phone this week, I beg of you. Research shows that news consumption can cause increased stress, as it raises the level of cortisol we produce, which can cause a host of other negative physical symptoms. We find the news so enthralling because the human brain evolved to detect threats and survive. Rise above your biology this week for your own peace of mind, and set alarms on your devices to remind you to get offline. Put them in a drawer, or in the other room.
- Get outside– Nature is proven to reduce stress. Get outside and get some exercise. I’ve personally planned for a long run and a walk in nature today. You can lay in a sun spot in a park, visit a garden or a water front, or just stroll through a pretty neighborhood. If the weather is truly miserable where you are, or you feel unsafe leaving the house, even viewing scenes of nature can reduce feelings of sadness, anger, fear and stress. So bundle up and get outside or queue up some nature documentaries.
- Reach out. Call a friend, family member, make a therapy appointment (even just one or two sessions. You can do this instantly with BetterHelp) or reach out to a crisis line if you need help and are struggling.
- Read a book. A study by the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%. The best book I’ve read lately is Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and the book I’m most excited to read next is Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. Dive into something and give yourself permission to get lost in a book or two this week.
- Watch something funny. Laughter helps soothe tension, relax your muscles, and relive stress. Catch up on the new season of SNL, or the show of your choice. Find a new stand up comedian on Netflix. Try to find a little humor where you can.
- Breathe– Remember to take deep, focused breath this week. You can meditate if you like, or just remind yourself to take a few deep breaths throughout the day. Even Harvard University recommends focused breathing to invoke the relaxation response in our bodies.
- Go easy on yourself– If you slip into unhealthy coping mechanisms today or this week, just be gentle with yourself. Nationally and globally, we are facing enormous pressure this year, in more ways than one. Give yourself leeway and room to be a flawed, messy human like the rest of us.
- Remember everything is temporary– Nothing lasts forever, whether it’s for better or for worse. Your emotions, and the state of the world, will come to pass eventually. Keep moving forward and remember everything is temporary.
- Get creative– Keep yourself busy with a baking, cooking, art, writing, or home improvement projects. Creativity reduces anxiety, depression, and stress. Whatever your preferred medium is, whether it’s home improvement or makeup, see if you can get lost in it. I just discovered Procreate and I can’t wait to keep playing with that this week.
- Pray– I’m not religious, but I do pray. I used to pray only when things got really, really, bad and I was desperate and I’d call upon a God I hadn’t talked to in years, sheepishly asking for a little help and guidance. It can help, in heavy times, to seek spirituality, in whatever form makes sense to you, and to ask for guidance, healing, and help.
Wherever you find yourself this week, I hope you keep your heart calm, and practice self- care, self forgiveness, and some of these stress-reducing techniques to help you stay sane. Be well.