Have you been asking yourself how you can possibly cope with post-election day stress?
According to a survey released by the American Psychological Association, 70% of respondents said the elections are a significant source of stress for them.
Everyone is talking about the heaviness we are all experiencing due to all of the events that happened this year. The social isolation due to the pandemic has stirred up a lot of emotions. For many of us, our country feels more divided than ever and this election has proven to be one of the most stress-inducing elections in history.
Relationships with family members and friends are being tested. The idea that there will be light at the end of this long, dark tunnel has dimmed. Each day seems to bring more bad news. The rising numbers in COVID cases, the shut-down of schools, and the uncertainty of our future leave us feeling frightened and hopeless.
Fear and hopelessness can trigger anxiety, anger, depression, stress and panic attacks. Stress and anxiety at this level can trigger chronic inflammation which in most cases leads to chronic illness. This is why it is SO important to take care of ourselves during this time of unrest.
What can we do?
The power of hope is oftentimes underestimated. What we choose to emphasize during these times, will determine the outcome of our lives. When we choose to focus on the fear and uncertainty, we feel incapacitated. When we focus on a future that we are passionate about, that provides us with hope, it gives us the energy to act in positive ways to make change.
Breathing can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system and deactivates our sympathetic nervous system. Parasympathetic is our “rest state” and sympathetic is our “fight-or-flight” response. When you are under the influence of your parasympathetic nervous system, you experience feelings of rest, security and peace. Try this breathing exercise throughout the day to help you to relax.
You may sit up or lay down for this.
1. Put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
2. Take a deep, slow inhale from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in.
3. Hold your breath and silently count to 7.
4. Breathe out completely as you silently count from to 8. Try to exhale all of the air out of your lungs by the time you count to 8.
5. Repeat 4-6 times and notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.
Take a Walk in Nature.
Science proves that walking long distances in nature reduces anxiety, depression AND improves immunity. Research has shown that a nature walk changes blood flow in the brain to a state of relaxation and increased the number of natural killer cells our bodies produce to battle infection.
Walking in nature helps clear your mind while allowing you to slow down your thoughts. Breathe in that warm breeze and allow the beauty of nature to bring light and joy into your body. You will thank yourself afterwards.
Take time out of your day and unplug from everything: social media, your phone, the news and work. When we feel helpless or hopeless, we often want to try to control the outcome of a situation by focusing on it ALL DAY LONG. We search Twitter for all the latest updates. We look for more graphs and statistics to stay on top of all the latest information, hoping for something to sway in a positive direction. Rumination is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including anxiety, depression and binge-eating and drinking. When you find yourself obsessing over the news, you know it’s time for you to take a break and unplug.
Call a Friend.
“Friendships enrich our life and improve your health.” – Mayo Clinic
A simple way to stop stress dead in its tracks is by reaching out to someone you trust. This is a friend that is always capable of making you laugh or smile even in the most challenging circumstances. It’s so important that we are able to talk about our feelings with someone close to us without judgement. Talking allows you to drain off some of the pain and anxiety, bringing relief and a sense of peace.
We are experiencing unprecedented times and your health and wellbeing are important. Please remember to nourish your mind, body and spirit by practicing these steps.