Mindfulness and Election Fatigue

The other day, I thought, “Oh, thank goodness.  The election is Tuesday. Things will be calmer when it’s all over.”  Except that it probably won’t be.  No matter who wins or loses, it’s bound to be contentious and divisive as everything seems to have been this year.

How do you unplug from it all?  We have a 24/7 news cycle and information is available to us anywhere we have an internet connection.  I’m not suggesting we all move to caves and stop interacting with the world.  But a small mindful break, might be just what you need.  

Studies have shown that even small doses of mindfulness can have big benefits.  As a yoga teacher, I often ask my students to become present and let go of the troubles from their day.  I semi-jokingly tell them they can take those troubles back again if they still want them.

Mindfulness is not only good if you’ve over all the political nonsense.  It can be useful in navigating Covid anxiety, relationship disintegration and bad news at parent teacher conferences. Whatever it is that stresses you out can be made at least a little better by being present. Think about it: worry and anxiety only exist in the future in the past.  If you suffer guilt and beat yourself up over woulda’, coulda’ shoulda’ that’s all stuff from the past.  If you’re worried or stressed or anxious, that’s always about future stuff.

So how do you engineer a mindful moment in the midst of personal chaos or existential dread?  How do you quiet the monkey mind?  The one that jumps from branch to branch asking “what about this?” and “what about that?” and “OMG what if such and such happens?”  

1)Take three deep breaths.  ( when we’re stressed, we take short shallow breaths.)  Intentional breathing alone may help you feel better!

2)Check in.  Use your senses. Notice how your body feels.  This is not, “What am I going to make for dinner tonight or did I pay the electric bill? “ None of that is actually happening NOW.  This morning, my checking sounded something like this: “I’m swimming laps.  I’m wet.  My knee hurts.  I have to pee…”

Try to do this check in without any judgement.  We like to label things.  This is good.  This is bad.  Try to just observe.

That’s it.  It’s not complicated but it’s not always easy either.  Still, if you can manage this for a minute, you’ll notice results.  If you can manage it five different times during your day, you’ll have five minutes.  Whether the election is making you crazy or you’re just struggling in general, a small mindfulness practice can be beneficial

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