You’re not alone if the current political season is taxing your last nerve. Even the most unflappable among us are finding it difficult to keep a positive outlook. In fact, the American Psychological Association found that 59 percent of Americans feel like this time period is the lowest point in U.S. history they can remember—and that includes people who’ve lived through catastrophes like World War II, the Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. So let that sink in and validate your feelings.
Most of us are longing for relief and to elevate our mindset. The way forward is self-care, and those needs fluctuate with stress. It’s important to know yourself and when you need to hit the brakes on the moment, so here’s a reference list to recharge before your reserves become depleted.
Log Out of Social Media
Don't just close the app—log out entirely. This way, you can pause to ask yourself if you truly want to sign in and get exposed to the political ads, posts, etc. that await you. It’s also a good idea to turn off the app notifications that pop up onto your screen, which are intended to tempt you to log in. (To find out how to do that, just Google your phone type along with “turn off app notifications.”)
Move (or Don’t)
By now we all know that movement is a key component of mental health. But psychologist and author Dr. James Zender also points out that, “connecting with nature is a time-proven way to get grounded and clear anxiety and depression. It is difficult not to be struck by the beauty and overwhelming diversity. Nature resets our minds and emotions.”
So, if the news of the day has got you down, get yourself outdoors. You may have heard that we have access to some award-winning beaches that you can dip your toes into. Soon, you’ll have this mangrove walkway. And just a short drive north, you’ll find these shady trails in Palmetto.
Or don’t move. Sometimes making the effort to move is just too much, and that’s OK. Take a child’s pose or put your legs up the wall; both will calm your nervous system. Need a little more? Pineapple Yoga owner Claudia Baeza has five calming poses for you.
Create a Distraction
Keep a running list of mindless tasks such as cleaning a drawer, organizing a section of your closet by color, or vacuuming under those couch cushions (you know they need it). I love a journal, but sometimes that feels like work — so, think about a puzzle, or an adult coloring book with pencil hues that inspire you. Also, consider a light podcast such as Finding Fred, hosted by columnist Carvell Wallace, which focuses on that genius of empathy, Mr. Rogers.
There’s always baking, which is considered meditative because it takes the whole of your attention, and the scent stimulates the senses, which increases feel-good endorphins. Then there’s the eating of said baked good, and we know for sure that is good for the soul.
Pandora Over Politics
Music can soothe the soul— it’s one of the easiest ways to relieve stress and alter a mood. Create a few playlists with a range from relaxing to dance. Think calming waterfalls, Tibetan singing bowls, Bob Marley, Miles Davis, Beyoncé, or a favorite movie soundtrack; Pretty in Pink was a recent addition to my library. For more inspiration, check out Rolling Stone’s list of the top 25 soundtracks of all time.
Take a Mental Health Day
This one requires giving yourself permission. When the to-do list can wait until tomorrow, take the opportunity to unplug. Go to your safe space, turn the A/C down to December, grab your most comfortable sweater or blanket, a warm beverage, a book, order in, and cuddle up. Maybe watch one of those movies to go with your favorite soundtrack download. This is a wellness moment that will resonate throughout your day.
Lastly, when you think you don’t have time for self-care, remember what Mr. Rogers said: “Feeling good about ourselves is essential in our being able to love others.”