I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but there is an election going on in the United States. According to an October 13th survey from the American Psychological Association, more than half of Americans feel significantly stressed because of this election.
Every day we’re barraged with fear and hatemongering, with the two sides constantly pointing fingers at each other, refusing to answer questions about the issues many want to hear more about, and so much more. All of this is leading to anxiety and stress causing some to feel some discomfort and others, to feel a full-fledged anxiety attack. Before you start pointing fingers at the other side on this, this significant stress is being felt by both Republicans and Democrats.
So what can we do to help avoid being stressed and anxious by the election? There are many ways and many of them are common sense.
Here are some…
If you know you get more stressed whenever the election news is on, limit the time you watch it!
Whenever you get your election news, make sure you avoid watching it within an hour of going to bed (Allow yourself to go to sleep peacefully without worrying about the election while you’re nodding off.) and whatever you do, DO NOT click on the TV, computer, tablet or smartphone on first thing in the morning! (Allow yourself to wake up, stretch, smile, ask what you’re grateful for, find something to smile about before getting barraged by the negative news.)
Stay out of political conversations! The old saying about Thanksgiving Dinner applies here “Never talk politics or religion at the table.”
Find some of the sites that actually compare and contrast the candidates instead of focusing on fear.
Write down a short list of things you are happy about. Another list of things you’re proud about.
Write a journal entry that simply says what you are feeling, what you want and 3 things you’re going to do to feel better.
Remind yourself that stress and anxiety live in the future where we can use our imagination to inflate them. If you’re feeling stressed, it’s almost always about what might happen. When you hear yourself utter the words, “What if, you’re fortune telling.”
If you’re feeling bad or sad, troubled, frustrated or anxious, tell yourself you’re feeling that way. I don’t mean think it, I mean out loud, tell yourself that you’re feeling anxiety or sadness, etc.
When we hear ourselves actually verbalizing our feelings it works like seeing a stop sign as we’re driving down the road. It gives our minds another thing to think about rather than imagining all the negative things that might happen. So, talk to yourself and listen to yourself.
Breathe! Man, this sounds so basic and people always roll their eyes whenever I say this. When we’re stressed out, we tend to breathe less and also our breaths are more shallow than normal. The simple act of taking two or three deep breaths, not only clears our lungs but also clears our minds. It might only take 30 seconds to do, but that 30 seconds might last you for an hour or two or more. Right after your third breath do this…
Find something in your life that always makes you smile, ALWAYS!
It might be a mental picture of your child or grandchild, the memory of your wedding, an accomplishment you achieved, etc… and then whenever you begin to feel negative in any way, close your eyes briefly and bring that picture or memory back up. You’ll feel yourself begin to smile and once you do that, your brain is literally releasing chemicals in your brain to point you in a positive direction. If you are smiling, you feel good. If you feel good then it’s impossible to be feeling stressed or sad, etc.
This has always been a surefire way for me to change my mood. As soon as I find myself feeling sad, mad, stressed, etc.
Stop yourself and find the closest way to do something nice for someone else. The list is almost endless…
Get up and walk across the room and hug someone for “no reason at all.”
Post a text, tweet or Facebook post telling the person/people on the other side that they matter to you!
Call someone and tell them you were thinking of them and talk about a great memory the two of you share.
If you’re driving, (Yes, this even works with road rage!) pull into the closest drive-thru and give them $5 or $10 to apply to the next person that comes through.
These are just a few but you get the idea. If you’re focused on helping others, appreciating others, feeling gratitude for others, it is almost impossible to feel mad, sad, frustrated or stressed.
Finally, and this might be the most important point. Whatever you’re feeling, you are feeling it for a reason. It is real to you and it is truly making your life very uncomfortable. If after trying some of these things I’ve mentioned and/or meditating, praying, etc… your anxiety is still high, call and ask for help! Calling a call center or getting an appointment with a Priest, Rabbi, counselor, etc., IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS! Instead, doing this shows AN AMAZING STRENGTH!
We will never agree with everyone. We will never like everything in our life. We will never be able to convince someone else, who doesn’t want their mind to be changed.
We can control only those things that we can control, not those things we can’t control. This sounds so simple, but all of us do it so often.
Hang in there and know that you’re not alone in this. We’ll get through it. If any of this helps you, feel free to share this blog on any of your social media platforms. Or comment below. I appreciate the time you took to consider this.
I know you’re strong and resilient and will make it through. I’m proud of you.