For election day, the BCRX team would like to offer you some encouraging tips on how to deal with politically induced stress. Regardless of the importance, we all know that politics can be stressful. And stress is a frequent, recurring obstacle to healthy living. It’s safe to say that it has been a very stressful political year. If you didn’t follow politics before, you probably do now. While it is important that change happens, it’s equally important to take care of your mental health. So on election day, we want to offer some tips on how to take all the coming political news in stride.
- De-stress daily. Acts of self-care should be done daily. Whether you have five minutes or two hours, find time to center yourself. Breathwork is a great tool to bring a busy mind to a peaceful walk. Parsley Health says that a regular practice, “can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and attention deficit disorder.” Purge your overwhelming emotions and reconnect to your body through your breath. You can find out more about breathwork for stress here! The pandemic took up most of this year, and while you may have begun to feel numb, your body is still keeping score. Studies from around the world are already looking for signs of post-traumatic stress symptoms or PTSS. Making it very important that your body can blow off steam regularly.
- Boundaries. Unfortunately, remnants of our political times are everywhere these days. From social media, clothing stores, billboards, and group chats. With chatter all around you, that means you will need to actively set and enforce (re-enforce and reinforce) your boundaries. Make sure you understand what does and doesn’t make you uncomfortable. Would you prefer not to talk about the election in the family group? Have that discussion with them and then create a separate PG13 chat. You can go one step further to mute or hide the alerts from family members who can’t seem to stop talking about politics. These steps might seem a little extra, but if it makes you less nervous, then you have to act in your best interest.
- Diet. Your gut keeps you calm. Yes, you read gut and not mind. Your gut is home to your enteric nervous system (ENS), 90 percent of your serotonin production, and has an interesting connection with your central nervous system. John Hopkins Medicine points to, “evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may signal the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.” Meaning taking care of your gut health will help you regulate and prevent mood swings! If you have a sensitive stomach, try a diet full of cooked fruits and vegetables (raw vegetables can be difficult to digest.) You’ll also want to shift to leaner proteins, avoiding pork and marbled fatter meat for a time. Some grains are troublesome to digest, trying a gluten-free diet for a while may help. Eliminating dairy or lactose could also help. Too much dairy can cause bloating, gas, and general unhappiness. And with so many outside stressors... you want to make sure your body is in prime condition to handle the incoming stress.
- Step away from conversations that are draining. At a dinner with friends and that’s all anyone can talk about? Fast Companies article: 7 Ways To Change The Subject More Effectively Than A Presidential Candidate, has you covered!
- Find a Meaningful way to get involved with your community so you don’t feel helpless. Volunteer Match is a great web source for finding out what is going on in your community! They even offer virtual opportunities and they make it easy for you to find projects that you feel passionate about. They offer virtual volunteering opportunities around arts& culture, human & animal rights, and even more specific areas like senior care. Volunteering is a powerful way to feel good about yourself and take care of your mental health. In a study quoted by The Washington Post, researchers found that volunteers felt more satisfied with their lives and were healthier. “Additionally, the researchers found that people who volunteered more frequently experienced greater benefits: Those who volunteered at least once a month reported better mental health than participants who volunteered infrequently or not at all.”
- Beyond election day. Be mindful of bringing up or discussing politics (election results) during the holidays if you don’t know the viewpoints of the rest of your family.
- Mute all the political social media accounts you follow for a couple of weeks. You can always view your favorite accounts when you feel up for it rather than being bombarded daily on your feed. You don’t have to go as far as to unfollow. Muting or hiding an account from your feed can give you some peace of mind.
- Avoid going down the rabbit hole. Unless digesting conspiracy theories are your thing, avoid looking at more during this time- you’re likely to make yourself even more anxious. Harpers Bazar quotes Karen Douglas, a professor of social psychology as saying, "Conspiracy theories can definitely be detrimental to your personal health, both mentally and physically [...] they can erode the health of society too. They foster distrust in experts, science, and the government, and, invariably, people turn to unofficial sources for information instead." Don’t add to your anxiety, read news from trusted (fact-checked) sources. Go ahead and unfollow fake news accounts now. These little steps will definitely spare you a few panic-like attacks in the weeks following the election.
Remember, it’s important that you get a good night’s sleep. Take whatever necessary steps you have to keep your blood pressure from rising. Destress daily, so you can process the aftermath of the election healthily.