Whether you voted for Clinton, Trump, Stein, Johnson, or wrote in Elmo, there is no question that this past week has been overwhelmingly stressful. Factor the previous week’s Cubs victory into the equation, and we have two of the most sleepless weeks in American History. We’re all feeling it in some way or another. It’s unavoidable. From my Facebook feed, to MSNBC, to my morning train commute, I feel saturated in images of Trump and Clinton making wonky faces and the accompanying public opinions. Not to mention the reincarnation of the KKK and hateful rhetoric directed at the very diversity that makes America the land of the free. Holy Guacamole.
In an effort to help manage the stressful tornado of this crazy election, school, work, and needing to remember to put on deodorant in the morning, I attended a yoga class on Saturday. And guess what we talked about? THE ELECTION. However, my yoga teacher had something else to share: the importance of self-care. In fact, she completely flipped the issue on its head, saying that this past week provided her the gift of needing to practice yoga more frequently. And this teacher, may I add, is a Venezuelan native who has a to deal with much more negativity from this election than myself. Her ability to see the wisdom in the chaos reminded me to take a step back from the drama and go inward.
Stressful times call for self-care measures. Life is inherently stressful, and difficult situations provide us with the opportunity to test our ability to nurture ourselves and reconnect with our unchanging, inner core of stability. It is challenging situations that make us stronger. So, as you come out of election week and settle back into the day-to-day grind, I encourage you to incorporate these self-care steps into your life. Take care, my friends!
- Go to sleep. Now.
In an already hostile and spiteful election environment, lack of sleep only heightens our feelings of distress, uncertainty, fear, and anger. Sleep is the time when our subconscious processes all of the experiences from our waking life, and believe me, you have a lot to process. After logging 4-nights for two straight weeks, my body crashed the Friday after the election and took me into a comatose 12-hour sleep. I will warn you, though: you may have election dreams. Last night I ate Tic-Tacs with Hillary Clinton and attended the inauguration at my high school gymnasium.
- Exercise and move your body
This past week, I found myself exercising less and sitting and talking more, which for me is a recipe for stress and fatigue. When I lift weights, rock climb, and practice yoga, I connect to a feeling of physical strength that transfers over to my mental and emotional state. After a good workout, I feel that I am strong enough to take on anything and that I am not a victim. When we exercise, our brain releases feel-good neurotransmitters like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which provide a natural-high (which the government can’t delegalize), along with feelings of empowerment and happiness. Move it move it.
- Connect to organizations and be an advocate. Take Action!
The best way to deal with feelings of fear, anger, and hopelessness, is to channel them into action. Stop writing about what you think on Facebook and start actually doing something. Or keep writing and publish it on a broader platform. Connect with an issue that you care about, like climate change, education, immigration, or women’s rights (or all of the above), and start educating others and advocating for change. The only way we will see real change around these issues is if we mobilize as a public and make demands from a grassroots level. You have to get involved in politics. If this election has shown us anything, it is that the sentiment that “I don’t like politics, it’s negative,” means nothing. Politics is everywhere. It is a part of being human. So get involved and bring the voice of common sense to our world. Be unapologetically moralistic. Speak up – it’s the only way to get away from hopelessness. I recommend attending rallies; yelling in the streets is like a bubble bath for the soul.
Taking time out of the day to give your mind and body a rest and reconnect with yourself is crucial. I have been meditating regularly for the past few years, and I noticed that I needed those 20 minutes of silence in the afternoon more than anything during this election. Meditation is a healthy mode of escape, that not only helps relieve stress, but boosts your cognitive function and ability to be resilient to future stressors.
- Disconnect from media
If only for a day. I make my Sundays Facebook-free. I have noticed a physical increase in feelings of stress radiating from my chest when I take in too much election media (or any media, for that matter). Instagram, twitter, and Facebook won’t miss you. Keep up with fact-based news, but limit your intake of opinionated rhetoric. Take a walk outside and see the light. Give your mind a break.
- Take Responsibility
I am talking to you, fellow millennials. I’m stepping up on my soap box. As of 2015, we make up a greater portion of the population than baby boomers. And 37% of us voted in this election. What’s shameful is not being an American right now. What is shameful is that 37% statistic. Nothing is a better breeding ground for political corruption than an apathetic public that doesn’t pay attention to what is happening in their local and national politics. How can you not care? Our politicians are people making decisions that directly impact us. Think tuition. Get over yourself and get involved. It’s not all about you; even if you don’t feel impacted, others are. If you don’t think you make a difference, then look at the polls from this election. Every vote counts. Get your head out of your Tamagotchi!
- Learn from the Cubs
If the Cubs World Series victory taught us anything, it is that 5 million people, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion, or political affiliation, can joyfully come together and rally for something they collectively love and care about. Rizzo 2020?