8 Tips for Sanity
As a psychotherapist and coach, I say with certainty that many people are feeling stressed now. The constant chaos around who said what outrageous thing and who is telling the truth is like a thick veil of ugliness that weighs heavy. Maintaining good mental health is a bigger project than it usually is:
1. Limit your exposure to the news. I know it’s like watching a train wreck you can’t quite look away from, but you can. Is there really anything more that you need to know about either candidate? I doubt it. Trust yourself; spare your brain the chaos.
2. Realize Your Power. You’ve learned a lot from the media blitz of the candidates. There is a real potential of feeling worn out and like you’ve already voted. News flash: you didn’t vote yet but you should. Taking action balances the passive stance that we’ve had to take while being bombarded at every turn with someone’s political message. In taking action, you reclaim yourself.
3. Consider early voting. Reduce the stress of the impending E-Day. Most towns have early voting options which can make for a stress-free election day. I confess that after all my political raving in the last two elections, it was hard to get to the polls on that one day, and I didn’t vote during the last election. Shame fills my pen here. I vowed that it won’t happen again. I’m voting early.
4. Understand how the election rhetoric has impacted you. For example, I've become a little addicted to the chaos. Okay… more than a little. I open the Internet and seek out what’s happening and who said what outrageous thing today. We start to crave this intensity we feel about people and issues. The brain develops patterns around it, there is a certain “hit” in it all, a wildness to reading the unfiltered rage and fearful opinions expressed by people in social media. Understanding this impact allows us to change it.
5. Limit your participation in political discussion. How many times do we need to hear the same tired talking points? I’ve made up my mind on the candidate, but continually sharing my views with others is unlikely to sway their decision. Politely share your views then let it go. And remember, after the election we’ll all still be here and will need to get along.
6. Monitor your speech and behavior. It would be hard to imagine some people saying what they've said on social media in front of their kids or friends. Reflect on your actions. We need to find our way back to civility and mutual respect. That’s better for all.
7. Counteract the ugliness. The brain operates better with regular practice of kindness, gratitude, seeing beauty and finding humor. Take time to point out the positive, share it and also take in the good. Reach out to others who need this even more than they realize. Don’t forget humor; it helps mental health as this Saturday Night Live debate parody illustrates. Very funny!
8. Take mindful moments. Create times where you shut everything down, including your own thinking. The world is shouting right now but you don’t need to listen. Meditation, yoga or just long walks can help quiet the chaos.
We can’t control the election process, how the candidates present themselves or the 24/7 news cycle.
We can control how we deal with these stressors. Incorporating these tips into your routine will leave you with less angst and more sanity. Respect for ourselves and others always wins.