Throughout the election season, I was careful to shield myself (and my family) from sensationalized, mainstream media and heated discussions.  Instead, we tried to gleam information from various sources and sides, so that we could make up our own minds.  At home, we talked as a family about the issues, the candidates, the rumors, and the truths. My goal was for my kids to be knowledgeable and informed, to form opinions as they saw fit, but never to feel fear or panic.

Despite my best intentions, there were times when I felt the emotional overload that comes from too much stress.  I know I’m not alone.  I also heard many discussing how distressed their children were.  So if you or your family are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, sad, mad, or any kind of negativity, I find the best thing to do is to get distance from the cause of your troubles.  Some ideas?

Shut Off Electronics

Put down the smartphone, laptop, tablet, and remote.  Disconnect from social media, news media, and anywhere else you’ll get exposure to current events.  Even as you’re feeling better, be mindful to limit exposure so as not to reintroduce the upsetting issues to your psyche.

Get Outside

Whenever a mental reset is needed, surround yourself with nature.  Take a walk, go to a favorite spot, or gaze out at a body of water.  Stare at natural beauty and ponder the bigger picture.  I’ve gone on meditation hikes led by a local Rabbi, and allowing ourselves to consider the universe and how we’re little more than a blip in history can help alleviate feelings of immediate stress.

Retreat

Sometimes, being alone can help.  Sleep, read, watch tv, laugh, cry, and do whatever you feel you need to help process how you’re feeling.  It can be hard to move on from your feelings until you’ve allowed yourself to flesh them out and come to peace with whatever is on your mind.

Connect

When you’re done being alone, spend time with friends and family.  Steer clear of politics, but share in something you enjoy, whether it be a meal, physical activity, or downtime. Recharging through a social connection is a powerful coping mechanism.  For those who are religious, spending time with fellow congregants or at a place of worship can be healing.

Keep Entertained

At times of true emotional burnout, I find that only a distraction will keep anxiety at bay.  This election season has elicited higher levels of fear, anxiety, and emotionally-charged battles than I can recall seeing in a long time.  I’ve learned that sometimes the only technique I can use to keep calm is to immerse myself in a pleasurable distraction.  I turn to a favorite tv show or movie, something I can easily follow without too much thought.  It’s therapeutic to allow oneself to be entertained and get a break from heavy thoughts.  Other times, music works wonders, and can be calming or uplifting.

Accept Help

When all else fails, reach out for help.  If you feel yourself suffering without relief, or those around you are expressing concern, don’t be ashamed to talk to a mental health professional.  You might wonder, “What can a counselor do that I can’t do for myself?” but a therapist trained in resolving grief and anxiety can get you back on a healthier path.

It can be difficult to pull oneself out of a dark place, and recent events have certainly offered plenty of crevices within which to get stuck.  As parents, we can’t let ourselves fall too deeply into those depths, as we need to be there for our loved ones.  We try to model healthy coping, respect, love, and kindness.  We want to show our kids how to persevere and take care of themselves even when it feels impossible to do so.  During this emotionally charged time, I wish everyone the strength to keep going.  Ask for help when needed, and surround yourself with people, places, and things that encourage feelings of happiness, hopefulness, and determination.  Feel free to share your experiences and ideas with our readers, below.

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