I fell down a staircase about a month ago. My front porch steps were frosted, like an evil cake, with a sheet of ice. I was looking at my keys and didn’t notice until my feet flew out from beneath me.
I could have broken a bone, or thrown out my back, but there was just a huge round bruise on my bum that turned all sorts of colors and made it achy to walk for a few days. More than anything, it was scary. I jerked myself awake, reliving it, a couple times afterwards.
It wasn’t the surprise or all the potential damage that haunted me, it was that I couldn’t stop myself once I started falling. I landed soundly on the top step, then continued to bump down each step of the staircase, grasping for something to hold and moaning, until I hit the bottom. What haunted me was that half minute or so of being out of control.
I’m reminded of that feeling often lately. Politics are suddenly taking up an unusual amount of space in our lives. We’re obsessing over the issues, and arguing with friends and family more since the election than ever before. Especially with social media taking on the role of political bulletin board, it can be hard to find balance. It’s like we all can’t stop falling.
I had trouble sleeping this winter, and couldn’t put down my phone, so I became easily agitated with my kids. It all filtered into their vocabulary. They would express such strong emotions about things I didn’t even know they understood.
I had to figure out how to manage my stress around world events, so I could maintain healthy engagement, self-care, and my family focus. Here are five things I found which really helped.
Pick a check-in number for news and social media
A media blackout would be the healthiest thing right now, but it also keeps us from the information we need. I’m designating a number of times each day when I’ll check in (and not before bedtime), and sticking to it.
Watch comedy news instead
It’s smart and informed, but with a healthy dose of humor and common sense that keeps everything from feeling dire, and it feels good to laugh.
Connecting to the body physically is really important to mental well-being and good sleep habits. My exercise of choice is yoga, which also reminds me to stay grounded and mindful. I delve into my practice four or five times a week, working my handstands and getting my feet behind my head while tapping into spiritual connection. It exhausts my body and centers my mind and offers me an hour and a half of sweet respite in my day.
Practice breathing techniques
There’s a method that’s really easy to do, even while driving, working, or in conversation with someone: I sip the breath like I would a delicious drink, taking it in slowly and steadily, and releasing it so slowly, it makes no sound. It does wonders to slow down breathing, regulate heartbeat, and calm an active or aggravated mind. It’s a healthier thing to focus on than what’s happening in the 24-hour news cycle.
Put the screens away and connect
It’s so refreshing to simply look into my kids’ eyes, and listen to what they’re thinking and seeing. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is seriously the best way to find balance and meaning.
What are you doing to connect and care for yourself in this tumultuous political climate?