Regardless of who you supported in this year’s presidential election, our nation is very polarized. Many people are angry, upset, confused, and overwhelmed. 2020 will go down in the history books as a year chock-full of turmoil. If the world around you is in chaos, you can choose not to be part of that. Even if you are a passionate partisan, you can choose to redirect that passion to your own self-care. It is vital to do, so don’t allow yourself to get caught in a downward spiral. But how?
- Promise yourself to practice the Golden Rule. Decide today that everyone you come in contact with is a child of God, worthy of His love. Remind yourself that the most obnoxious and thoughtless people on earth are beloved of God. If you are having a hard time loving them, acknowledge their importance to God, and ask Him to love them better than you can right now. Be willing to avoid contention because there is a 99.999% chance your opinion will have zero impact on their beliefs and vice-versa. The other part of the Golden Rule is to love God with all your heart, mind, and strength. What better way to lighten your emotional burdens than turning them over to someone who loves you more than you could ever imagine? Allow His love to change your heart. Prayer works wonders for calming one’s soul.
- Get proper rest. Try going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier if you can. Even better, unplug from devices one hour before bedtime. Stress takes its toll on your body and brain. Did you know that stress raises your cortisol, and excess cortisol kills brain cells? This will over time, greatly affect your memory retention and decision-making abilities. During good sleep, your brain does a little housework and cleans toxins out of your brain that form while you’re awake. Be kind to your brain. Get a good night’s sleep. And for heaven’s sake, don’t stay up late watching the latest news reports. You’ll find out about it the next day, trust me on this.
- And speaking of the news… watch less of it. It can be addictive to find out what the latest prognostication is. If you notice yourself feeling anxious and you know you’ve been checking Twitter all day, step back and take a breather. Play a game with yourself. Tell yourself “I’m not going to check any news for 3 hours, and if I can, I will set the timer for 5 minutes to check the headlines.” And then hold yourself to that.
- If you’re really frustrated, do a brain dump. Get out every aggravating thought out on paper. Every “not fair”, every offense, every insecurity, every “feeling victimized”, every grievance you can think of. Put it on paper. Get it out of your brain, acknowledge its effect on your well-being, but get it out. Nobody else has to read it; you can read it again if you really want to, but the point here is to “take out the trash” so to speak. It’s amazing, it really does clear your head.
- Schedule playtime on your calendar – and soon. This is a big deal. This has to be something you love to do. Not merely like, but really enjoy. Put it on your calendar and be prepared to say no to everybody and everything else that could prevent you from doing this. Even if you have to wait until the weekend – we all need a little something to look forward to. It makes our brain happy. Author Megan Bloom states, “Scientific research has found that the more you allow yourself to experience the joy and uplifting excitement of anticipation, the more easily you will be able to overcome obstacles that may present themselves to you on the way to that something.” Whether it’s athletic, or creative, or pampering, plan it and execute it. Your spirits will soar!
Covid-19, extreme polarization and anger, unemployment, interrupted celebrations, and routines are making many of us very grumpy, frustrated, and sad. Naively, many of us hoped that the election going the way we imagined it, would solve the world’s problems –but it won’t. We are in charge of our own happiness and attitude and by practicing some of the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to climb out of the 2020 funk and press forward with hope in your heart for brighter days ahead.