If you live in the United States (or really anywhere) right now, you’re probably pretty preoccupied by the current presidential election. As of this writing, there still isn’t a definitive winner of the election, and it’s unclear when that will change. This has been an incredibly challenging year for so many reasons, and the uncertainty around the election results is not helping any of us. I know that I’m very stressed, I know that my family and friends are stressed, and I know that everyone I follow on social media seems to be barely holding it together. I also know that spending money tends to be an automatic coping mechanism that doesn’t always help us in the long run. That’s why I want to give some examples of how you can manage your stress right now without spending money or blowing your budget.
Take a Break From Social Media and the News
This is true even in the best of times, but social media and the 24-hour news media can cause a lot of stress. There’s nonstop information coming through, especially now while the election results are still unclear. I personally promised myself that I would not watch any television news during this time. That’s not because I don’t care about the election, but because I know that following the play-by-play will only overwhelm me, while still not giving me the answers I am searching for. When I want to get an update, I do a Google search about the state in question and go from there. It’s important that you understand your own personality and how you react to different stimuli during difficult times. If you can’t cut out the news or social media completely, find time to take a break once in a while so you can lower your stress levels. You will thank yourself for it.
Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
This one can be tough to control. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night all week afraid to look at my phone but also dying of curiosity about any election updates. Plus, for anyone who is working on the election itself, there isn’t much choice when there is so much work to be done. But if you can, do your best to get as much sleep as possible. Give yourself a shut-off time when you can put your phone away or turn the television off. Read a fun book that will take you out of reality for a little while. Sleep makes a huge difference when it comes to stress and our ability to cope with it. So try to get to bed even just a little bit earlier than usual, or, if you can, take short naps throughout the day to recuperate.
Choose One Way to Treat Yourself
I know from personal experience, and from working with my coaching clients, that stress and anxiety can trigger impulse spending. It can often make us feel better briefly only to make us feel worse later on when we look at our bank account or credit card statements. You want to make sure that as you’re taking care of yourself and trying to make yourself feel better that you don’t put your financial stability at risk. So, if you know that treating yourself to a certain type of thing makes you feel better, treat yourself to that thing! Maybe it’s a new book (or three), or comfort food, or scented candles, or a cozy sweater. Whatever it is, go for it. But make sure that you’re putting limitations on yourself so that you aren’t treating yourself to everything you see. That way, you can really appreciate what you do choose to treat yourself with, and you don’t have to worry about your budget later on.
Turn to Those Who Inspire You
Do you know what keeps me sane during times of difficulty and stress? Remembering and connecting with those who are doing the important work on the ground every single day to make the world a better place. I have so many friends who are fighting for reproductive justice, racial justice, environmental justice, and more. I’m grateful to them everyday. Especially now, pay attention to the poll workers, the vote counters, the dedicated election officials, and the activists on the ground making sure that we keep our democracy intact. Not only will you be inspired and, perhaps, calmed down a bit, but you might also learn about organizations you’d like to work for in the future. If you know anyone who is doing this work, let them know how much you appreciate them. And while you’re at it, donate to or volunteer with organizations like:
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Get Your Body Moving
I’m not personally a big exercise person these days, but I know I always feel better after I go for a walk. It doesn’t break a sweat, but it gets my blood flowing and it does get my endorphins pumping. It’s also a great way to get distracted and get some fresh air. If you’re feeling incredibly stressed or anxious, see if you can hop up and move your body a bit. Perhaps you can do ten jumping jacks, or take a walk around the block, or put yourself into downward facing dog. It doesn’t have to be a big time or effort commitment to be helpful. You could even turn on your favorite song and just dance around for a few minutes. I guarantee you’ll at least shake off a little bit of your anxiety for a while.
Remember, as painful as this month and year have been, it won’t last forever. I don’t know when things will settle down again and when we’ll all be a little less stressed, but I do know it will happen someday. Until then, I’ll be utilizing these tips to keep myself more even keeled. Because we have to take care of ourselves so that we can keep fighting and moving forward.
Source: Forbes – Money