Your heart is racing and you are reminding yourself to take a deep breath. You cannot remember an election this ugly, this divisive, or this draining. The constant buzz on the news, at work, and even in our kids’ schools is wreaking emotional havoc on the entire nation.
According to a recent Harris Poll conducted for the American Psychological Association, 52% of American adults say that the presidential election of 2016 is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.
So how does one survive? And as a parent, how do we keep it together for our kids when even they are coming home from school stressed out about it?
Go beyond mindfulness
As Kelly McGonigal, PhD and health psychologist at Stanford University says, “The stress we’re feeling about this election can have profound effects on our individual and collective well-being.”
While practicing mindfulness is an effective way to stay centered, McGonigal suggests that handling this election period may require even more action. Here are some ways to stay engaged in the political process while staying collected:
Above all, vote. Find something on that ballot that you can support. Do not fall prey to thinking “my vote does not even matter.” You are exercising a right that many people fought hard to earn for us. Remember that you are part of a collective and are not alone.
Take care of yourself
Now more than ever you need to practice self-care. Go to bed early. Meet a friend for coffee and talk about anything other than the election. Get a massage, treat yourself to a nourishing meal and or your favorite show (just try to skip the commercials).
Envision the worst case scenario
This may seem counterintuitive, but it is an important exercise. When we do this, we mentally prepare ourselves for the undesired possibility and discover that it is not as bad we thought it was. Remind yourself of all the other institutions in this country that share governing from the national to local and state levels. The presidency is not a dictatorship and there will always be checks and balances. Take some deep breaths while you imagine this and realize that while you may be saddened and angry at the outcome of the election, you will survive it.
4. Find the good
Good things are all around us. Pay attention to the world around you and begin practicing gratitude. Count your blessings and write five things down each day by that you are grateful for. When you’re feeling down, you can look back at your gratitude journal.
5. Practice compassionate listening
Next time you have a conversation with someone, make extra effort to listen without forming judgment or without preparing a response. Try to think about where he or she is coming from and what may have shaped his or her opinion. Listen to understand, not to react.
No matter what happens on November 8, remember that though we may hold different political views, most of us have more in common than we think. As parents, we want our children to feel loved, be accepted, and have a bright future ahead.
- When it comes to our politics family matters
- How can the United States heal after the election?
- How to find the good in a nasty election cycle
- 5 things to tell your kids about the election
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