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Self Care Through Challenging Political Times

Having just celebrated Veteran’s Day, I am reminded how nonpartisan my/our active duty roles were to be even though I’m quite sure that quietly many had their own evolved values and belief systems or their inherited understand/believing. Today I am thankful for those often unspoken boundaries we were given.

Nevertheless, no matter what our political beliefs or affiliations today, it’s safe to say all we Americans are now living through a unique moment in our nation’s history. The past few years/months have brought daily headlines that have added to the intense feelings that many people with varying opinions have been feeling for some time–especially younger people who are concerned and thinking about what their future might hold.

For some, seeing news about the political turmoil with major headlines every day, may cause distress. I often recommend to patients to just read the news rather than watch it on TV. It is just too traumatizing. Sometimes just limiting it to the inspirational news at the end of a newscast can be helpful. Others, on all sides of the current brouhaha, may feel personally attacked by major debatable differences among our fellow Americans, or the actions of people at different levels of government. And others may sense opposing views from friends or family members as an act of betrayal. Egos are alive and well (OK–that’s debatable). Remember ego is edging God out according to Wayne Dyer. Compassion, empathy, and kindness all go a long way in any interaction.

Since I’m experiencing my own challenges with a healthful balance at times–wanting to stay informed, yet not consumed, I found these tips from the Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials site. The goal: to help make it all more manageable related to self care when if comes to our current political climate rather than to consider heading for and relocating to our northern border:

Limit our media consumption. Read just enough to stay informed. Turn off the news feed or take a digital break. Take some time for ourselves, go for a walk, or spend time with friends and family doing things that we enjoy. People who socialize with more people live longer instead of watching news feeds all day long. Walking in nature is a great way to meditate, access your inner guru, reduce stress, and help you feel grounded to Mother Earth.

Avoid discussions about politics if we think they might produce conflict. Be aware of how much we’re discussing politics with friends, family members or coworkers. Life is already stressful so pick your battles. You know people who ram their opinion down your throat so why bother? I always say agree to disagree in a respectful manner with those that can engage in a healthy discussion of the opposite political view.

Recognize that stress and anxiety about what might happen is not productive. Consider channeling our concerns into making a positive difference on issues we care about by volunteering in our community–advocating for issues we or a local group can embrace and support vocally. When you volunteer, you avoid feeling helpless and hopeless. It’s very rewarding and takes your mind off your own problems too!

Remember that whatever happens on Election Day, life will go on. Avoid catastrophizing and maintain a balanced perspective. We tend to gravitate toward the viewpoints or news sources that align with our own thoughts, regardless of how nasty the attacks can get. Instead tune into both sides periodically with the goal of opening up more objectivity. It’s always best to walk the middle way, like Jesus, neither a victim or a victimizer. They know not what they do, in judgment remember mercy. People will argue to the death due to their own deep seated fears and insecurities. When they are over the top, and irrational that’s usually the case. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. This may be karmic and unavoidable unfortunately.

Vote. By voting, we are taking a proactive step. Seek out balanced information on the candidates and issues, make informed decisions and wear your “I Voted” sticker with pride. If you’re not happy with the incumbent, vote them out and take a stand instead of passively complaining.

Beyond all that..I like what realistic advice author Peige Smith provides regarding this subject on a site titled Feed the Good Wolf:

Live your life.
“How I Balance staying informed and staying sane. When you feel like everything is spinning out of control, remember this: you have and will always have full control of your emotional state. As the Kabbalah from Jewish mysticism teaches: When an obstacle occurs. Stop. Don’t react, let the light in. In other words, allow your intuition to see the big picture , the true lesson in a situation so you don’t immerse yourself and get lost in the weeds.

Take the time you need to grieve and process the horrors you see unfold, but at the end of the day, choose to find some kind of joy in your life. It doesn’t serve you, nor does it help the people you’re trying to protect, to let anger and sadness rule you. What does serve you, however, is your determination to continue to seek out happiness and beauty in an often challenging world.”

“Every moment is a fresh start.” TS Eliot

Let’s move toward love, peace and harmony, Warriors–if not only for ourselves, then for others we touch.

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