8 SELF-CARE PRACTICES FOR COPING WITH ELECTION STRESS
by Ami Kunimura, MA, MT-BC • November 2020
In the emotional marathon of 2020, this week will require some extra care.
Here are eight self-care tips for coping with election stress –
1. Honor your emotions.
Name what you are feeling and tell someone or tell your pet. Or, you can even say it out loud to to yourself. Verbally saying “I feel anxious” can help you manage your anxiety so that your anxiety is not managing you. Allow a range of emotional experiences today and observe your emotional process with curiosity rather than judgement.
2. Do something that involves planning for the future.
Schedule something you’ve been putting off or set up a phone chat with a friend for later in the week. Maybe buy someone a birthday or holiday gift. Buy yourself a gift that you can use in the future. Try to see beyond today.
3. Try not to overdo it on the carbs.
We often crave carbs when are seeking emotional comfort. Refined sugar is especially important to avoid, which can contribute to more stress on the body and cause inflammation. This election will give you enough stress and inflammation, you don’t need to add more.
Try to get comfort in a different way. Maybe make a cup of tea or get a hug from a loved one. I know that’s that not the same thing as eating ice cream or pizza, so please don’t hate me for this suggestion. If you do need to eat ice cream or pizza, try not to overdo it and make sure you are also eating enough protein.
4. If you’re spending a lot of time on social media, don’t just scroll.
Clean up your social media accounts. Unfollow people who are not relevant to you or unfollow people who bring feelings of annoyance or frustration. Unfollow people who make you feel like you’re not enough in some way, either because you’re comparing yourself to them or because they trigger unhealthy feelings or memories.
5. If you find yourself glued to the TV watching the election coverage, don’t just sit there.
Do some light stretching, move your body, pace around the room, or clean up things around you. Sitting still when you are stressed can be very hard on your body because your body isn’t able to process the chemicals and hormones released from the stress response. But when you move around, you can help your body work through its process.
6. Stay hydrated.
Don’t wait till you’re thirsty to drink water. Stay regularly hydrated to help your body deal with the stress and support your cognition so that you can stay aware of your own experience and feelings. Hydration will also support your overall body health so you can feel good tomorrow.
7. Say no.
Stressful political times require boundaries with yourself and with others. You’ll likely need to say no either to yourself or someone else. Set a boundary with someone you don’t want to talk to or who drains you. Set a boundary with yourself with how much media you are consuming. Remember that you can say no or set a boundary with kindness and compassion. If saying no to others is hard, you can simply say, “I’ll get back to you in a couple days.”
Take a deep breath in, and exhale. This may seem simplistic and might not solve anything, but this is a great place to start self-care. In moments when you feel the frustration of all that you can’t control, remember that you do have control over your breath, and your breath can influence your physiology and your mood. At any time you can take a deep breath in and be present with yourself. Don’t abandon yourself and your own needs, especially at times when you need it most.
You don’t have to do all eight of these things, but pick a few that resonate with you and remember that some self-care is better than nothing. Each decision to choose yourself and your health matters. Even just one.
And so this year has been an emotional marathon and whatever happens or doesn’t happen in this election, we’ll still be in this marathon.
There will still be political stress, covid-19, and social issues to contend with. There will still be a need to care for the earth, our work, our communities, our families, and ourselves.
I know that it all seems like a lot, but here we are, alive in 2020 and it’s not easy but it’s not impossible.
Ami Kunimura, MA, MT-BC is the founder of the Self-Care Institute and the creator and facilitator of Resilience Over Burnout: A Self-Care Program, an in-depth online program that guides professionals out of burnout and stress cycles through research-based self-care practices. Ami has presented on self-care and professional burnout at international events and conferences. Ami (pronounced ah-me) was born in Hawaii and currently lives in Southern California.
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