I literally spent an hour talking to my therapist about the election yesterday. And, apparently, I am not alone. She told me that many, many people are spending their precious hour in therapy these days talking about the election, and that she’s never seen anything like it in her twenty-five years of practice.
Woah. That says a lot, no?
So, what can we do about it? (Other than go talk to a therapist, that is.) I am compiling this list as much for myself as for anyone else, because, seriously, I need it right now. I have a tension headache, and my heart seems to be racing. I can’t get out of my mind what was said on that bus in 2005. Or throughout this campaign. I am trying to be calm about the future we are preparing to hand to our children, but it’s hard. I am just grateful that my kids haven’t had to hear the words that have suddenly made it into the news.
But, other than that, I am having trouble being grateful or calm. So here are my ideas about what we (er, I) can do to get into a different headspace. Because we still have 26 days until the election. And I don’t want to age ten years in that time.
So here are my ideas–
- Turn off the t.v. (and your computer, and your smart phone).
- Turn on some music and move (dance with your kids, sing with abandon, go for a walk).
- Get outside (studies have found that nature is soothing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones). Can’t get outside? Even viewing scenes of nature reduces anger, fear and stress, and increases positive feelings.
- Make a list of things you are grateful for in your life.
- Talk to a friend.
- Watch a funny movie or television program. Or this Bad Lipreading of the first presidential debate. It really took my blood pressure down and made me laugh hysterically.
- Read a book. (Two I have on my shelves to read are Real Boys and Reviving Ophelia, both pertaining to raising strong, balanced children in the face of cultural pressures for girls to silence their voices and boys to stifle their emotions. I think reading these books could help me feel like there is something I can do as a parent in these times when it feels scary to raise children.)
- Read a poem. Here are a few by Mary Oliver to get you started.
- Volunteer. Helping others helps reduce stress, combat depression, keeps you mentally stimulated, provides a sense of purpose, and fosters feelings of community.
- Perform a small act of kindness. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you at the shop, bring treats your office or kids’ school, give someone a compliment.
- Watch the sun set or rise. Or gaze up at the stars. These are good reminders of how big and beautiful the universe is. And how small, in the grand scheme of things, some of our other worries are.
- Do something creative or artistic. This helps reduce stress, at least in part because it requires focus (on something other than stressful thoughts).
- Write a letter. Handwriting forces you to slow down, and writing a letter (or card) to someone you care about gives you that time to think about that person and to imagine them happily opening up their mail (is there anything more fun than getting a handwritten letter or card these days?). At the end of those five minutes or so, you’ve slowed down, thought about your loved one, imagined them being happy, and it’s hard not to feel happy under those circumstances.
- Register to vote. Making your voice heard and your vote count are surefire ways to do something about this election.
If you have any more ideas, I’d love to hear them. Is this election stressing you out? If not, please share your secrets!