Since the beginning of 2020, the world seems to be operating on a different set of rules. Depending on your mental health/social-economic/personal status, things can, from time to time, seem stressful and anxiety-inducing on different levels.
Today is the Election day, and coming up, perhaps an Election Week, or even an Election Month. How to stay sane during this stressful, unpredictable time seems to be an essential question to ask. And here are my answers:
1. Limit social media usage
As a Millennial, I am no exception when it comes to excessive social media usage. Studies show that social media use and depression tend to come hand in hand. Often times, the more time you spend on social media, the sadder you are likely to be. Limiting social media usage has always been a rule of thumb for depression, anxiety, and body image issues. It comes in handy in maintaining anybody's peace of mind during this stressful time.
More importantly, do not feel bad if you cannot resist using social media more than you like to. When scrolling through the feeds, train yourself to be more mindful of how you feel when seeing each individual feed. Do they make you feel better or more anxious? And we can go from there.
Social media might be toxic, but it makes one feel secure and reassuring to be connected to friends and family through a collective trauma. And this leads us to my next routine:
2. Personally reach out to family and friends
Text, call, or DM your friends and family, see how they are doing, or react to the same set of events. You may have different political views, but your conversation does not need to be political. Try to focus on the stress, the dreading of the unpredictable outcomes, or just simply connect and talk about life in general.
Understand that this is happening to us all, and you are not alone.
3. Take a phone-free walk
When is the last time you leave the house without having your phone with you? I don't know about you, but my answer is never, except maybe for that one time when my phone was stolen.
Like meditation, taking a phone-free walk is something that breaks your daily routine. It changes the way of your information intake for a short amount of time. I could be nice when you feel like you need a break.
4. Set a clear boundary with the news
How do you like to see your news? Do you allow notifications to pop up whenever on your phone, or do you only actively seek out information to read when you want to be informed? If you haven't put many thoughts into it, now might be the time to ask yourself these questions.
Do you want to be instantly informed of every vote count as they come out in real-time? Or would you rather use that time of suspense and anticipation on something else and learn the outcome later?
Knowing what works best for your mood and setting a clear boundary with the news updates will help you perform your daily task without interruption. And it feels nice to get things done.
5. Pet your puppy/kitty/reptile, water your plants
Is there a pet or a beloved plant that you are taking care of every day? It might feel nice to tend to their needs and turn this into a therapeutic event.
Studies show that petting animals, or for a plant parent like me, tending to my aroids, is an excellent way to release stress and induce a feeling of comfort. After all, who doesn't love a puppy/kitty/plant/insert your own answer?
6. Plan something to look forward to
Why live in the moment if the current moment is unbearably stressful? Think of an elaborate plan in the near future that you would absolutely look forward to. It could be a nice date, catching up with a friend, or some fun activity like a weekend getaway into the woods, or apple picking on a farm.
Instead of anticipating the unknown and be stressed about it, why not looking forward to something that excites you?
7. Offer extra, extra compassion towards yourself and others around you
I know it sounds cheesy, but not a lot of people really know how to do it.
Offering compassion to yourself can be as easy as a pat on your own shoulder, knowing that you are doing the best you can. Or it can be as complicated as breaking your usual thought pattern and know when to stop in a cycle that might lead you to bad moods.
Spend some time with yourself, and really try hard to appreciate your resilience throughout this turmoil time. And do not blame yourself when you are not coping as well as you would like to.
- Berryman, Chloe, Christopher J. Ferguson, and Charles Negy. "Social media use and mental health among young adults." Psychiatric quarterly 89.2 (2018): 307-314.
- Shiloh, Shoshana, Gal Sorek, and Joseph Terkel. "Reduction of state-anxiety by petting animals in a controlled laboratory experiment." Anxiety, stress, and coping 16.4 (2003): 387-395.