No matter what your political or religious affiliation may be, chances are that the last week has been stressful for you. Between the recent bomb threats and shootings and the divided country, anxiety is something that most everyone is experiencing regularly. If your blood pressure tends to rise every time you open up Facebook or turn on the television, then you’re experiencing the effects of these changing and challenging times as well.
So what do we do? While ranting on social media might be cathartic in the moment, it is far from therapeutic. If you feel overwhelmed by recent events and need an outlet, here are some ideas for you.
1. Step away from the computer/smartphone/tablet
It might be tempting to tell your former neighbor just how you feel about what’s going on right now in response to his tone-deaf social media post, but it’s only going to make things worse. For you. Now, more than ever, we all need to disconnect from the internet and just exist with the people who are physically around us. It is far too easy to get riled up by random memes, gifs, articles, and posts, and it’s simply not worth the stress. They will all still be waiting for you when you choose to log on again. That’s not ending any time soon. So do yourself a favor and take a break.
2. Go for a run
Or a bike ride. Or a brisk walk. Or do some yoga. Get your blood flowing. There’s nothing like a good endorphin rush to the brain to help relieve some anxiety. You’ll also (perhaps) forget for a brief moment why you were so worked up to begin with. Exercise, in whatever form you choose, is pure therapy for your mind, body, and spirit.
3. Don’t forget to breathe
Ever notice that when you’re particularly stressed, you’re holding in your breath? Let that go. Let it all go. Whether you choose to engage in two minutes of meditation, a full yoga class, or just five simple, slow breaths in and out, you will feel better. Holding your breath in is allowing yourself to hold in all of that unnecessary tension. Let. It. Go.
4. Be mindful
This will go hand-in-hand with disconnecting and breathing, but it’s worth mentioning on its own. Being mindful is simply being present. Instead of letting your thoughts go off in a million different places about how the world is a mess right now, keep it simple. Look at the cup of coffee you’re holding. Is it hot? Warm? Is there an imperfection on the handle? What color is it? How much is left in the cup? How are you holding it? Something as simple as taking yourself through this process can ground you and bring you into the present moment. It works wonders for unnecessary anxiety.
5. Talk to a friend
It is very easy to feel alone and isolated when terrible things are happening around us. Pick one person — a spouse, a sibling, a best friend, or that guy or woman with whom you always connected and could have a decent, honest conversation. It doesn’t matter whom you choose, but find someone who will listen. Bonus points if they happen to feel the same way about the world as you. Don’t isolate yourself and let your thoughts torture you from within. Engage in meaningful conversation with someone about how you’re feeling. Not about politics, or religion, or any other triggers. Stick to what you feel.
6. Talk to a professional
Sometimes there is only so much that our friends can do. At times we can get so depressed, anxious, or stressed that we really need the objective help of a professional. And you shouldn’t feel any shame in that. Seeking help is a sign that you’re willing to take care of yourself. How can you expect to take care of your family and loved ones if you’re not putting yourself in a good place? It’s incredibly important to put yourself first when things get too difficult to bear.