You are tired. You have heard too much. You have argued with too many significant people in your life to count. And, you want to watch tonight, because how can you not, right? But you are mentally drained and not sure if you even can. Whatever your decision...watch or not watch...you are being affected by this election.
The social worker in me wants to equip you with ten tons of resources to cope for tonight’s debate, and the lover of humanity wants to gather all of you in my arms and squeeze. So, when you feel like you can’t take it anymore. Practice this breathing exercise, heavily endorsed by Team PROMO.
Then, try to remember these 10 self-care strategies for this election season.
Self-love on fleek: Elizabeth’s Self-care Top 10
How to keep on keepin’ on during this election season.
1. Be gentle with yourself.
You have found yourself extra cranky lately, and you don’t know why. Here’s a thought. You are constantly being triggered with verbal and nonverbal messages that attack you, your family, and the communities you love, and it affects you both on the conscious and subconscious levels. Most of the time, you don’t even know it’s happening, but your core is being affected, which is then expressed in your behaviors, emotions, and physical health.
You can choose not to watch at all or turn off the debate at anytime. You do not have to post on Facebook or read any posts. You do not need to be the political birdie Tweeting all over social. If you notice you are triggered, turn it ALL off. (Privilege warning: I can turn it off. It is not my job, and I do not have any other obligation that requires me to keep it on. If this is your job, thank you).
3. Heat or ice.
When the words hurt. When it is too much. Apply heat or ice to your pressure points. You can place the heat or ice on the back of your neck, inside of your elbows, or the back of your knees. This helps to reduce the shock to your nervous system. When trauma is triggered, you go into shock. This method is known to reduce symptoms of shock.
Have a favorite essential oil? Keep it handy and place a couple of drops on a napkin or
Tissue. Then when your heart rate starts to increase, you shut down, or zone out, you
can use the scent to help reduce your symptoms of anxiety.
5. Internal monologue check.
What are you saying to yourself? What is going on inside that beautiful head of yours?
Are you saying kind things to yourself about yourself? Have you been triggered and are
now experiencing guilt or shame? Check your self-talk. Remember your self-love.
6. Gratitude list.
You have the ability to shift, even if it’s ever so slowly. When the internal self-talk becomes a never-ending list of negatives, what-ifs, or why gods, start listing what you are grateful for in life. No matter how bad the list was getting, when you shift to list the positives magic happens. (Note: Usually by number three or four on the gratitude list, I am feeling better. I am grateful for my job, Kristen, my niece and nephews, my ability to share this with you, the air I breathe….see what I’m saying?)
When was the last time you took time for yourself? What is your thing that you like to do for you that you haven’t done in forever? It’s time. Schedule those appointments. Take those walks. Do those warrior poses. Sometimes you have to push yourself at first, then it’s easier the next time.
8. Talk it out.
Even the most introverted LGBTQ person can appreciate needing to bend a good ear this election season. Staying isolated is dangerous. If you feel alone, then maybe you will start to believe what they are saying about you. We need to be with our people right now. If you can’t get out to interact with other LGBTQ people that look like you, who may share a similar story, then call us. We will talk to you. YOU are not alone. YOU matter.
If you need a support for mental health, do it. I love my therapist. In fact, most of these coping strategies I listed here I learned from her. If you can’t afford a mental health practitioner, there are resources that can get you connected to no or low cost services. Here are a couple of websites with information and phone numbers if you need to talk with someone immediately: http://bhrstl.org/support-2/ and http://www.providentstl.org/Services/LifeCrisis.aspx
9. The Bubble.
This is real. When you hear something that is beyond offensive and rattles you to your core. When you watch something that makes your blood boil and you think the blood may boil up causing your head to explode. Invoke the Bubble. This is an imaginary force field that you control. It surrounds your entire being, soul, and energy field. You allow what comes in and what goes out. Now...easier said than done, right? Using the visual really does help when you can’t avoid the messages.
If you know me, you know that I’ve probably played a drinking game or two in my life, and I have seen a lot of posts about debate drinking games. Tonight, I challenge you to try yoga in lieu of the alternatives it may take you to endure this debate. This article in the Wall Street Journal provides the perfect holistic option to manage your stress during tonight’s debate.
Remember you are not alone, and you are LOVED.