We did not come to fear the future, we came here to shape it. -Barack Obama
Has the 2016 Presidential Election caused you a great deal of stress and anxiety?
As I look back at the election events that have unfolded the previous week, I realize what a huge impact it had on my productivity level and mindset.
In my strive to eliminate anxiety and create overall balance in my life, I often try to avoid situations that may trigger a pointless stress response. In this case however, it’s virtually unavoidable.It seems like everywhere I turn, I’m reminded of the hate and ugliness in this world. Division among family and friends, brutal attacks on those with opposing views, and burning of the American flag are a just a few of the disturbing events I had to witness.
Being someone who is generally sensitive to the world around me, I found it difficult to “turn off” the mind chatter and the “what if” thoughts that began to flood my brain. Because of this, I was unable to stay focused on the things that normally mattered to me.
Regardless of who my candidate was, the images shown in the news and social media literally left me feeling sick to my stomach. Witnessing such hate and negativity from both sides of the spectrum,I found myself needing to disconnect from it all in order to recover both mentally and physically.
I knew I wasn’t the only one to feel this way as I have heard many others like me come forth and admit the defeat they’ve felt over it all. What made it worse for me was the anger that sparked inside each time I was reminded of the terror going on nation wide; and even long after the videos stopped playing and the news was turned off, I replayed the hateful phrases, images, and actions in my mind over and over, getting more and more upset each time.
This was when I came to the realization that if I ever wanted to move past this, I needed to step away and refocus my energy in order to help “turn off” the stress response and disassociate my emotions.. Easier said than done, I know.
For those of you who were as deeply impacted by the craziness as me, I wanted to use this platform to remind you that A) You are not alone and B) You will recover. I put together some steps to take that will help ensure that you are giving yourself enough time to recover from both the mental and physical anxiety.
- Stop reading political posts. This one is a no-brainer really. Whether in the news or social media, do your best to avoid reading anything related to politics. Until at least things have settled down and you feel comfortable with doing so again. Even if that means using the “unfollow” option on Facebook like It’s going out of style–I know I did!
- Don’t talk about it. Stop engaging in conversation with people about politics regardless of whether or not their views align with yours. We all have opposing views and cannot expect everyone to agree with us. When trying to avoid a negative situation, It’s best to avoid any and all conversations regarding the topic especially in the midst of it all. If you must, mention only the positive changes that you expect to come.
- Keep yourself busy. Mindfulness is a beautiful thing as it allows you to really focus in on the “here and now” not the past or the future. Do the thing you love to do and stay present in the moment. For me, cleaning the whole house really helped me to clear my mind and move on.
- Use headphones. Really, It’s that simple…listen to positive, uplifting music when surrounded by others who are arguing politics. Whether at work, a family gathering, or the subway, try your best to safely block out the world around you using your trusted headphones. I don’t know what I would do without mine!
- Keep it short. Use the phrase “I don’t like politics” often when being questioned about your political beliefs. I cannot express enough how many times this phrase has gotten me out of having an uncomfortable election conversations plus in my case, It’s true.
- Love others. Try to spread as much love as possible everywhere you go. Now more than ever, people are stressed, angry, and argumentative. Try to be the exception by being as kind and loving to everyone as you can. Help to restore everyone’s faith in humanity once again.
- Stay positive. Be optimistic about the future and hope for the best. The media likes to twist things around in order to create an exciting story. Do not believe everything you see or hear and most of all, stop focusing on the negative. For better or for worse, our President elect has been chosen and as Americans, we need to embrace this, remain positive, and look forward to the future ahead.
After giving myself a couple of days to recenter my energy, I finally feel ready to safely engage with others in a healthy, positive manner. I feel optimistic about our new President and am ready for the next chapter in our countries history!
God Bless America.