I started a media detox after the Election. There was too much everything – coverage, commentary, controversy, and I needed a purge from politics. I read fiction, listened to music, created and prepared a 30 Day Healthy Meal Planner, and expanded my yoga routine. Cancelled time with friends was rescheduled with the caveat of no political talk. In short, I reconnected with the personal me to reengerize for the “collective me”. It was time well spent, but at last, I must re-engage. Yet, how can I have Stress-Less Living in Today’s Political Environment?
My goal is to engage in a sustained, meaningful manner and not burnout both physically and mentally. To maintain the nurturing bubble I created while “furloughed” I researched coping strategies in stressful situations. Turns out, my “kitchen” approach to balanced wellness has a basis among professional mental health experts. Across disciplines, both Western and Eastern, there are suggestions to reduce stress and anxiety organically – as in non-pharmaceutical. I have modified the most prevailing suggestions based on my newfound approach for stress -less living in our present political environment.
- Stay informed – within reason. Consider how much news you take in and how it affects you. Do you really need to watch every prime-time news show? They all pretty much regurgitate the headline of the day with their own philosophical twist. If there is a major development, you will be alerted – if only by the screams of your neighbor. Find the show or two (tops) that fulfills your objective and spend the remainder of time on other areas of interest.
- Build Bridges. Marriages are strained and friendships severed because of politics. We can agree to disagree and still respect one another. We all need to listen more intently and more often. I may never accept your political views but would like to understand them beyond rants and raves. Try approaching discussions with the goal of mutual respect and commonalities to build on. If you cannot maintain a calm and constructive discussion, it may be best to disengage from the conversation.
- Do Something. Identify issues that are important to you and organizations that work on those issues. Join local efforts. Start your own initiative if one with your specific agenda does not exist. You should even consider getting involved in local politics, where you can see the direct impact of your efforts. Taking active steps to address your concerns can lessen the feeling of helplessness that contributes to stress.
- Maintain Perspective. Faith-based organizations and other enlightening communities can provide vital emotional and spiritual support during stressful times. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, composure, progressive relaxation help frame the present in peace.
- Take Good Care. Nurture yourself! Commit to healthy living – food, sleep, exercise. Bask in family, friends, fun. Find activities you enjoy that also reduce your stress, like reading, listening to music, building model cars. And try to take “digital breaks” throughout your day and connect with people and places around you.
This is uncharted territory and this race is indeed a marathon. We cannot burn out so soon out of the gate. We will need stamina, wellness, and balance along the way.