Everyone experiences stress from time to time and people who were shocked and disappointed by the recent U.S. election results may be feeling particularly uneasy lately.
Stress and anxiety can feel like a heavy, suffocating weight, and many of us unfortunately don’t have sustainable methods of managing it. Instead of letting your mental anguish overtake you, here are some healthier suggestions to help you better manage those moments of crisis and turn that stress into productive energy.
Instead of: dwelling on the negative.
Try: engaging your brain.
If you’re feeling upset about political results, remember that change does not stop on Election Day. There are many ways to turn frustration into productive progress. If you cannot think about politics, try knitting, rock climbing or even doodling to help stop the carousel of negative thoughts. You may not feel like doing the activity at first, but, once you get into it, your head will feel a heck of a lot lighter and you may emerge with a brighter, more creative outlook.
Instead of: pulling up the covers and drawing the shades.
Try: getting outside.
Locking yourself up in a dark bedroom is only going to amplify your feelings of self-deprecation and loneliness. Even if all you want to do is curl up in a corner, forcing yourself to get outside has swift and major benefits. Light is often used to treat mood disorders such as depression, and sunlight exposure boosts both vitamin D production and serotonin levels, both of which will make you feel a little better on a chemical level. Additionally, a breath of fresh air may be all you need to put the world back into perspective.
Instead of: reaching for the ice cream or chips.
Try: getting some exercise.
When in doubt, exercise will always boost your endorphins. No matter your mood, an influx of these happy chemicals will surely brighten, or at least stabilize, your outlook. If you sit on your couch and shovel in junk food, you are guaranteed to feel even worse in a few hours. Instead of filling your body with junk, why not get rid of the junk? Exercising will help detoxify your system and reset both your mind and body. It’s an incredibly powerful tool to deal with stress and anxiety, and it is free!
Instead of: downing a few glasses of wine.
Try: drinking tea or broth.
Stress wreaks havoc on the body. Adding alcohol on top of that is a surefire way to weaken your immune system and make you feel worse in the long run. If you choose to indulge in alcohol now and again, do it for pleasure, not as a quick fix to mask your problems. Instead drink tea or broth to soothe your stresses. Tea is naturally calming. It forces you to slow down and fills your body with natural warmth. Bone broth is nutrient rich, warming and anti-inflammatory, meaning it will help thwart the inflammatory reaction stress causes in your body. Sure, you won’t get the same buzz you get from alcohol, but tea and broth are both comfort foods that far surpass alcohol in terms of relieving stress.
Instead of: trying to shove the problem away.
Try: communicating with someone who shares your values.
Be it a spouse, a parent, a friend or a therapist, we all need someone to talk to who will listen. Try finding people who share your values and ideology through meet up groups or speaking events.
Stress and anxiety are nothing to be ashamed of—we all experience them. What matters is how you deal with them when they come barging through your door. By doing your best to take a mindful approach, not only will you emerge from the darkness unscathed, but you’ll be stronger for it.
And always remember to breathe.