Spoiler alert. You will not find any candidate endorsements or efforts to sway you towards any political leanings in this post... (exhale).
We’d like to offer an online oasis free from political ranting to discuss the importance of self-care during election season.
Sounds silly doesn’t it? But if you consider that this is one of the more polarizing presidential elections in recent history, and more importantly, if you checked in with your blood pressure during the most recent debate, it’s easy to see that regardless of which candidate you’re pulling for, emotions are running high.
Why is this a cause to reflect on self-care? For starters, between news media outlets and social media, we find ourselves in an atmosphere that fosters a passion to express who you’re against, rather than who you support. This can often lead to emotional escalation that triggers defensiveness and counter-attacks...There’s a reason so many families avoid the topic of politics on holidays. With so much effort focused on trying to convince others of our beliefs, we miss the opportunity to connect...And we as humans are hard-wired for connection, so this is a big problem.
So how can we practice self-care in a way that allows us to remain present and engage with those who have different views than us? Checking in with your body is a great place to start. If you find yourself feeling flustered by a heated conversation, take a moment to focus on your breath. If tension has you breathing short and shallow, inhale slowly through your nose for 3 seconds and exhale slowly through your mouth for 6 seconds. Do this 5 times in a row. Once you’ve calmed enough to think clearly, try to humanize the person you’re talking to. Remind yourself that they have their own history, struggles, triumphs and insecurities, and that just like you, their reality is their truth. It may also be helpful to remember that their beliefs in no way invalidate yours and vice versa.
Now let’s talk debates. Try this quick 3 minute body scan before, during, and after watching the next debate to see where you are holding any tension, stress or emotion in your body. If you notice any tension, keep your attention focused there and see what that part of your body is asking of you. Do those muscles need to relax? Perhaps that part of you needs to release some excess adrenaline? Listen to your body because physical tension is its way of telling you to pause and be kind to yourself.