As a society, it seems we are facing stressors from every side. We are months deep in a pandemic that has limited our personal freedoms and access to loved ones. We are bracing for a polarizing election, within which the basic human rights of several marginalized communities hang in the balance. We are amidst a climate crisis that curiously is debated as a partisan issue. We are entering the frigid, moody, and grey winter season. And we are coping with seasonal anxiety, seasonal depression, and other seasonal stressors. We are stressed!
On top of this, those of us within the United States and from wealthier countries, in general, have vast amounts more privilege than others from developing nations. Yet the struggles of our fellow human beings, both domestic and foreign, are visibly accessible by the power of social media. We can refer to limitless examples of human suffering by way of the simple efforts of our fingertips. This interconnectedness is unprecedented and can further contribute to a state of neurosis. Furthermore, seasons of election and global tension like the one we find ourselves in only contribute to more cultural shifts and widespread unrest worldwide. So there is always something to catch up on or keep track of.
Locally, because of the upcoming election, things are insane. The phrase “media circus” is very applicable. With each cartoonish debate, misspelled tweet, threatened human right, and violent clash of opposing viewpoints, we the public are inundated with articles, headlines, memes, podcasts, videos, and the like. This convoluted, imperfect, and unfair reality seems inescapable at times. It affects our physical wellbeing, but also it gets inside of our psyches and attacks our mental health.
Now more than ever, it is imperative that we stay uplifted. In order to maintain endurance when protesting or advocating for human rights, one must access peace. In order to contemplate solutions to widespread inequalities, one must access clarity and self-love. Furthermore, though we exist among a constant battle of right and wrong, we exist. We must not miss opportunities for enjoying small victories and creating pockets of happiness in our everyday lives.
Here are some de-stressing tips for this challenging season:
Take Social Media Breaks
This is a big one. Social media can get annoying, heavy, offensive, and most of all addictive. Log out. The internet world pales in comparison to the real one. Online discourse is often polarized, aggressive, guilt-trippy, and largely unresearched. Give yourself a break from the constant discussions, predictions, and commentary.
Take Screen Breaks
Turn your phone off completely. Look to an entertainment source that’s non-electronic. Examples include: reading a book, coloring, designing an outfit, doing a puzzle. Also, if possible, go outside! Take a walk, get some fresh air, take a drive, or do some physical exercise to work through any bottled up energy or anxiety.
Reward Yourself For Productivity
During this stressful time we still have deadlines, assignments, and work to complete for our jobs and our classes. Implement fun checkpoints: a youtube clip of your favorite comedian after an hour working on your paper, an ice cream sundae after turning in your spreadsheet.
Spend Time Outside
Life is a panorama; it goes beyond our individual selves. Remind yourself of the vastness and beauty of this world. Go on a walk through the city or to your local park or favorite hiking trail.
Access Creative Work
Turn to the artists who have been creating art as a remedy to the constant suffering that is the human condition. Whatever you are feeling, a poet, a director, a painter has felt it before and articulated it in a constructive and beautiful way. Watch a film or a television show. Read a book or find artists online who work with multimedia. It could be a fun and encouraging detour to explore.
Be the artist! Write a poem about how much you hate injustice. Paint a frog you see on the sidewalk. Rehearse a few dance moves. Construct something from what you feel right now.
Talk With Loved Ones
In addition to journaling and other self-reflection, having conversations with people who love you and know you can be an incredibly healing experience. Articulating how you feel and having someone to empathize might make you feel even better despite the world being on fire literally and figuratively.
The political sphere affects our everyday lives, this is especially so for those of us who are marginalized and whose basic human rights are quite literally up for debate every election cycle. Yet just as much as we deserve freedom, we deserve peace, joy, lightness, and fun in our everyday lives. Let’s do some romanticizing. Let’s keep up our mental health. Let’s reach out to loved ones and to professionals for mental health resources. Let’s be the love, light, and change we want to see in the world. Let’s vote!