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To say that living in the US right now is stressful, is an understatement. Whether you’re happy with the election turn out or not (and personally, I’m not), I think we can all agree that there is an aggressive energy here in the US that is almost palpable.
But I’m not so much concerned with your politics as I am, your ability to get through this crazy time, unscathed and unburdened with the pain of dealing with a situation you have no control over.
So here are a few ideas to keep you sane, happy, healthy and still speaking to your family. I hope it helps.
- Stop looking at Facebook. Seriously, it’s a particularly hostile place right now. Take a detox for a few months (or the next 4 years) and head over to Instagram or Pinterest for some completely benign photos of puppies and gym selfies. I never thought I’d be as happy as I am to see gym selfies.
- Don’t engage the radicals. Whether your Uncle Pete is dangling off the edge of the right or left, he’s probably far too full of unwelcome opinions to spend quality time with right now, so just avoid him. If you’re the unlucky-ducky that’s married to Uncle Pete, or he’s your Dad or coworker, tell him you are so happy we live in a country where we can all voice our opinions, but to please not share them with you because you’re dealing with enough anxiety already. Basically, be honest without being confrontational. People love and respect honesty and vulnerability.
- Spend more time with A-political people, or Canadians. Honestly, spending time with your friend who shares your views, but won’t shut up about them isn’t helping you reduce your anxiety. To commiserate about how bad things are doesn’t help anyone and will only send you into a tailspin of despair. Canadians on the other hand, are generally not politically divisive so they are ideal people to have conversations with right now. Plus they’re so darn polite!
- Take this rare opportunity to embrace your inner luddite. Start reading books again (the paper kind). Stop reading/listening to or watching the news and enjoy a classic or a new podcast series that isn’t stressful or antagonistic. Distract yourself by learning something new or take a pottery class. You might think I’m being overly simplistic, but I’m really not. Grab your girlfriends and do a wine and painting night. Go laugh!
- Look at the bright side. If you didn’t vote for Trump, you’re probably dying a little inside every day with the choices he’s making. But fortunately, the stock market is doing pretty good, so perhaps sell some stock that has recently started performing better and donate to causes that make you feel empowered and useful.
- If you’re someone that loves to move your body, change your workout routine to address what your body needs in the moment. Some days I really need yoga and a chance to defuse my nervous energy and anxiety. Other days I need to lift some heavy weights to make myself feel powerful and strong. And then there are the days that only a boat load of cardio and some badass rapper tunes will do. Listen to what your body needs to express on a day to day basis and honor it. Even if it means your current body composition goals need to take a back seat.
- Don’t use the current political climate as an excuse to eat like shit. I am speaking to myself here. I’ve eaten out 5 out of the last 7 days and even though you could say my choices have been moderately healthy, when I’m eating restaurant food, it’s a big step away from my goals and can easily become a slippery slope for me. I do much better when I’m eating my own food and honoring my healthy routines. Find other ways to comfort and soothe if that’s what you need.
- Adopt a meditation practice. I truly struggle with consistency in my practice, but I keep coming back to it because the benefits are truly helpful. Even if it’s only a few minutes a day (less than 5 minutes still counts), it’s something. I recommend the “Calm” app or even Headspace. Both are very helpful and not too “woo woo”.
- Drink Valerian tea. I find this helps to reduce stress.
- Sleep 8 hours a night. This reduces cortisol levels and makes you less of an asshole when provoked.
- Skip the low carb diet if you’re struggling with it and you’re super emotional. Just eating a potato. Now is no time to be playing with your hormonal happiness. But eat it at night and stick to fats and proteins for your breakfast (veggies and protein for lunch).
- Reduce caffeine. This is almost to obvious to mention, but caffeine wreaks havoc on your parasympathetic system which may already be overwhelmed right now.
- Seek out humor. Laughing reduces your stress levels and has a tendency to put things into perspective.
- Remember that nothing is permanent. Not even this Administration. In 4 years I imagine things might look very different. Until then, take this opportunity to practice acceptance, tolerance and peace. Regardless of your political affiliation, we can all stand to “calm the ‘eff down” and loosen the clutches a little on our long held beliefs.
- Remember that people are more important than politics and patience is more important than prejudice. If you see injustice, don’t stand for it. Not for one second. It’s amazing what one person can do to change the world. And on that note, I leave you with this amazing story of hope and impact.