Today’s article is all about taking care of yourself in the face of the almost constant bombardment of updates about the extraordinarily long, contentious and stress-inducing 2016 Presidential campaign.
It’s hard to avoid the news now that it’s 24/7, with every news outlet seemingly eager to blast out yet another all-caps revelation designed to ruin one candidate or the other. (This has been called the most volatile and distressing presidential campaign in our country’s history, and I for one believe it!)
It may even feel like you don’t want to avoid it, given the ongoing shock value. It’s almost like being drawn to a horrific accident that you tell yourself you don’t want to see…yet can’t seem to take your eyes off it.
The problem is that as human beings we can’t pay attention to such things without our emotions being stirred up, with the result that we may very well feel immense fear, anger, sadness and grief that we can’t easily shake off later.
The strongest emotions that people have been sharing with me over the last year are anxiety and anger. This is especially true as the candidates make allegations about particularly outrageous personal behavior on the part of their opponent, be it lewd or unethical – behavior we can neither prove nor disprove (but we all have our hunches, and treat them as “the truth”).
This new phenomenon in this election cycle undermines our need and expectation that our country’s leaders will be honorable, trustworthy “statesmen” and “stateswomen” – or at the very least ladies and gentlemen! We’ve always counted on that, without realizing it – and now suddenly we worry that’s gone…maybe forever?
In this extraordinary time I feel moved to encourage you to protect your peace of mind by backing off from listening to communications that stir up anxiety and anger within yourself. So here are my:
Suggestions For Maintaining Your Peace Of Mind (as much as possible!) for the next week, and beyond:
- Limit your exposure to campaign polls and news.Unless your job requires you to keep up with every new development, TURN OFF THE TV! Turn off news alerts on all your electronic devices. Resist checking for updates every time you have a pause in your daily activities. It’s NOT because you don’t care, but because you DO.
Over-exposure to the constant details is exhausting and frustrating, and triggers feelings of fear, powerlessness, anxiety and anger. There is just over one week left in this campaign. Trust me – you can live without all the minute-by-minute, sensationalistic updates for that long! And you will be much more at peace.
Exercise the power you have to influence the outcome in the voting booth, then continue to take good care of yourself after November 8th, minimizing your anger, frustration and fear since the sensationalistic news is likely to continue.
- Get used to saying, “And we breathe!”and doing it! How often? Whenever you think of it! Take long, slow, deep breaths and focus on clearing your mind and letting your body relax.
- Find a version of meditation that works for you.Whether you literally sit on a cushion and practice traditional meditation, or simply take a quiet walk and focus on the beauty of nature, practice putting aside thoughts about politics for a while.
Focus on something of intrinsic beauty or value, without using any words. This is an excellent antidote to prolonged absorption and analysis of stressful and upsetting matters. Get together with friends in a “Politics-Free Zone.” Get a massage, listen to music, play sports…any activity that allows you to release pent-up stress.
- Seek out people who can provide care and support for you, and activities that are restorative, relaxing and have a quieting effect on your thoughts.
- Give yourself permission to set real emotional boundaries.You can limit conversations about the campaign. You can choose to walk away from conversations that feel too intense or upsetting. You can ask friends and family to change the subject.
Above all, before sharing your thoughts and opinions on the candidates, ASK if the other person wants to hear it. It’s upsetting when anyone shares an opinion no one really wants or needs to hear (…and we breathe…) You’re likewise allowed to ask others NOT to share their opinions with you!
- If you’re feeling the need to do SOMETHING to feel empowered, choose uplifting and meaningful actions (and it may be in support of your candidate).
DO NOT get caught up in negative messages about either candidate. Focus on the positive attributes of your candidate and let go of the desire to trash the other. Trashing behavior is self-destructive and only serves to increase your anger, frustration and stress.
Most important, understand that while you may be in a distressed state, remember that this campaign will end soon, and the country will heal from the divisive and painful rhetoric we have all been subjected to.
If you think you’d like to change your susceptibility to anger, or just to explore what role anger plays in your life, start by completing my popular Anger Profile Self-Assessment. It’s yours with my compliments, and if you’re like most people, you’ll learn something helpful if not downright surprising!
Whatever your Anger Profile reveals, and however insurmountable your anger issues may sometimes seem – especially now! – know that healing is possible.
It may take focusing on what your profile reveals, and putting a little time into your own healing process, but remember there is always support available. Just reach out and receive guidance and new strategies to learn, grow and heal. Remember, stress is a given, but suffering is optional!
And we breathe….