Help me, Jesus. How are we going to make it to November? Is any one else feeling like that? Thank God for the Olympics which has given us all something to agree on, which we were in desperate need of.
I've actually changed a lot of behavior because of this election to keep from curling up in a ball somewhere. Here are some tips to help you make it to November with your right mind. If you didn't have it to start with I can't help you.
1. Stop watching the news. This is hard for me because I have been a lifelong news junkie. This comes from a powerful curiosity that serves me well in lots of ways. But the "news" is often now nothing more than a bunch of annoying people's opinions about what happened. I can get that at the local bar. With Jack Daniels.
2. Practice gratitude. Turn everything off and sit quietly thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for. As bad as things seem we are not living without running water or electricity in a country where tribal warlords are in charge. Read a history book. Think things are worse than they've ever been? Not by a long shot. Not for you personally or for the country as a whole. In fact in a multitude of ways things are better than they have ever been. Perspective is a great thing.
3. Treat Facebook like a party. If you spend a lot of time on social media you know why I say this. When I was a kid --how old do I sound?-- people didn't constantly share every political or religious thought they had in public. In fact it was taboo. I used to ignore this rule and blather my opinions and beliefs every where. Now I see the reason behind it. Civility. Let's keep our social media encouraging and uplifting. And if you don't have anything nice to say...
4. Don't waste your time arguing with people on Twitter or Facebook. Studies show that practically no one changes their mind due to someone's Facebook posts. Stop spinning your wheels and keeping yourself wound up. It literally doesn't help at all. Go outside. Pet the dog. Read a book. Trying to be right is just a huge waste of time. It also isn't doing your body any good. That elevated blood pressure and clenched jaw? Why do we do this to ourselves?
5. Hide, at least temporarily, the social media feeds of those who make you feel irritated or annoyed, angry even. I was seeing posts, fact checking and proving them wrong, and writing long replies to correct people, then deleting them knowing I wouldn't change their minds. It's so much better just not to see them. Trust me.
6. Carefully choose your information source. Occasionally I will follow a link someone posts --#thestruggleisreal-- on Facebook thinking it's a site with real information. I cannot tell you how many times it's to something ridiculous like a woman with stringy hair in her basement literally just reading news from newspapers and looking at the camera and saying that the story seems off to her. Oh something is off alright.
7. Speak peace. Our words have energy. Don't let yourself be triggered or thrown off balance. Decide that whatever you hear or no matter how much someone tries to unload all of their opinions on you that you are going to speak kindly, slowly, and reasonably. I know from experience how hard this is when you are passionate. But what we need right now are rational thinkers and people who speak from a place of loving calm. It is highly unlikely people are going to listen to your list of facts anyway. Here's why.
8. Laugh. Watch funny cat videos, get together with your most entertaining friends, or watch your favorite stand up comedian. It's not escapism if it's keeping you from being depressed. It's survival. Seinfeld is therapy. Read about destressing with laughter here.
9. Get up. Did you know that one of the most dangerous things facing the American population today isn't violence in the streets or ISIS? It is the amount of time we spend sitting. We never see a reporter go live to Fred sitting in his recliner though. No presidential candidate is getting people whipped into a frenzy over your ass being on the couch. Scientists are now trying to figure out a way to demonize sitting the way they did smoking because, as it turns out, exercise doesn't undo the effects of sitting. God, help us all. And you thought the election was depressing.
10. Plant something. The soil has microbes that are proven to fight depression as effectively as antidepressants. In addition to that planting something is proof that you have hope for the future. And that may be the most important thing of all. Read about the scientific reason gardening makes you happy!
I know that some people will think that following my advice means sticking your head in the sand, or someplace worse. Choosing not to internalize what's happening doesn't mean you are uninformed or unthinking. It means that you are thinking rationally about what you have control over (your thoughts, actions, and words) and what you don't (the current political environment).
There are tons of other things to do to feel better: volunteer someplace, help someone, put on upbeat music and dance. Anything that takes your mind off things. Mind your focus and focus your mind.