This election cycle has brought on a nationwide level of anger, anxiety, fear and myriad other emotions not seen in most of our recent memories. The only guarantee we have is that this too, shall pass, and (hopefully) we will emerge a stronger and better nation for it. In the meantime, whatever side of the political divide you might fall, a few tips for how to return to your “inner calm” while white-knuckling your mobile phone or TV remote on November 8:
The blog 5 Tips for Surviving Election Week offers some really good advice as to how we can weather the storm. At least through Wednesday. Some of them are posted below. There are also plenty of apps like “buddhify,” “Headspace,” and “Mindbody Connect” (not to mention “Omvana” and “Relax Melodies”) to find your inner Ohm.
But, in all seriousness, whatever you do, whatever you believe, and however you feel, please make every effort to vote. This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. Too many have fought and died for the right to vote throughout our young history, and the right to vote is the basic support lying beneath the framework of our government and the freedoms that we are privileged to enjoy. To find out where your polling place is visit www.iwillvote.com and double check it at https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search.
By Cecilia Culverhouse
With the 48-hour countdown here, this election season’s intensity is on full volume. Here are five simple and practical mindfulness tips for preserving your sanity, adrenal glands, and faith in humanity this week:
- Feel your feet. In the next two days, there’s about a 99% chance that you’ll read something related to a presidential candidate that upsets you, and might even traumatize you. If you’re reading or watching the news and you feel yourself react strongly — whether emotionally or intellectually — your amygdala has kicked into action. Reaction is fight-flight-or-freeze mode. Feeling your feet — and sit bones — de-activates this mode and switches on the parasympathetic nervous system. Then you’ll be in rest and digest mode. It feels much better there.
- Treat yourself with kid gloves. Be gentle with yourself. If you live in the U.S., you’re simmering in a 322M+ person emotional stew. Turn down the heat by giving yourself the same loving kindness that you would give a five year-old child.
- FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real Several years ago, a mentor shared two acronyms for fear that changed my life. The first is False Evidence Appearing Real. Now, if I find myself scared or angry because I’m holding on tight to a perspective, belief, or expectations, I pause and ask; “Is this false evidence appearing real?”Just asking the question stops the fear.
The second acronym is F*ck Everything and Run. I’ve leaned into this acronym this election season a few times. The fear sneaks up and then within the hour, there’s a detailed search across multiple real estate sites of Vancouver home prices. (They’re around the same as San Francisco, FYI.) Like False Evidence Appearing Real, simply asking “Am I trying to f*ck everything and run” brings me back to the present moment. This week, when you find yourself FEARing, go back to tip 1 — feel your feet.
- Lean into your self-care routine. Re-commit to whatever activities you do that make you feel great and like your fullest self. If biking to work puts you in an endorphin ecstasy, add an extra 10 minutes to your ride. If it’s Soul Cycle, pick up an extra class. If gaming with your friends makes you feel connected and happy, play for an additional hour.
If you’re wondering what self care is — a good place to start is sleeping eight hours each night and expressing gratitude. Combining the advice of neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter and neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson, try sleeping eight hours and when you awake, before getting up, write or think of one thing that is good in your life for which you’re grateful. This week needs rested people looking for the good in the world.
- Do an act of kindness for someone. “Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style.” — Rebecca Solnit
This election is about what it means to be American. An act of kindness is a political stand for a new nation. A nation of democratic ideals. Of respect. Of trust. Of empathy. Tell your S.O. you love them. Offer money to a person begging for it. Cook a meal for a sick friend. Be a stand for kindness.
Cecilia Culverhouse is the Bay Area Director for Pathwise Leadership. Cecilia strengthens leaders’ relationships to themselves and to those they influence through writing, teaching, and coaching leaders on neuropsychology and body-based mindfulness.