You know stressing over an election result isn’t going to greatly benefit your body and mind, but here you are nervously refreshing your feed every few minutes. A study carried out last year showed, 68% of participants reported that an election outcome is so stressful that it affects their physical and mental health. But it does not have to ruin your sleep cycle, increase blood pressure, heart rate and cause you to go into a tizzy. Here are a few quick ways you can deal with this election stress.
Keep the phone away
Try and stay away from social media where the relentless flow of information, in either direction, can be jarring for your nervous system and mental health. It will do you a world of good to keep the phone away for a day and instead do something else that you might enjoy. Cook, bake, pick up a book, paint or make Mandala art, go for an extra run today, or move to your yoga mat and do a few stretches. Surprise yourself! All these activities will help you keep your mind off irrational and repetitive thoughts that you can do nothing about.
Observe your mind
This is a good time as any, to take a step back, sit down in sukhasana or easy pose and just observe your mind, with zero judgment. We are often caught up in an emotional storm on days like these, irrespective of who we are rooting for and how strongly we feel for the candidate of our choice. It is only natural since the stakes are so high. But it helps to take a qualitative pause at this time and look within our mind. This simple act of observation will put things in perspective, that everything is changing. Trust that there is a higher cosmic intelligence that has taken care of us and our loved ones in the past and continues to do so, and that life and polity eventually move in the direction of the best.
Foods that help beat stress
Specific foods that can help beat stress include berries, milk, beans, whole grains. Strawberries, pineapple, guava, oranges, are loaded with Vitamin C that helps fight stress and fatigue. Bananas have tryptophan, a protein that increases the production of happy hormones in the system. They also have vitamin B and potassium that help counter anxiety.
Try self Abhyanga
Abhyanga or self-massage is an ideal way to wind down after a highly stressful and eventful day like this. Abhyanga uses specific essential oils that produce a deeply relaxing and rejuvenating effect on the nervous system. It slows down your heart rate and increases the time we spend when the parasympathetic system is active. The parasympathetic system is the part of the autonomic nervous system that is active while we are resting.
An ideal choice is Shankara’s Soothing Body Oil. This calming oil is made from oil extracts of sunflower, almond, grapeseed, coconut, and borage. It also uses essential oils of the geranium leaf, primrose, chamomile, calendula, helio carrot, shave grass, lemon balm, and licorice.
This nourishing body oil features an eclectic blend of rare therapeutic essential oils known for their relaxing and de-stressing capabilities. They also reinvigorate our lymphatic system that is responsible for the removal of waste from our body. The oil can be used in Abhyanga massage. You can also pick it up as a bathing and moisturizing oil, to reduce overthinking; calm down a brain and nervous system that is on overdrive, balance our emotions and make you feel peaceful.
Here’s everything you need to know about performing self-abhyanga.
Now we get it. Just telling yourself to not stress out about an important event is not going to be of much help in beating the election stress. This is simply because the mind and emotions cannot be managed from the level of the mind alone. So, the best secret that actually works in taming the stress levels and emotional yo-yo, is breath.
Research at Columbia University showed, groups undergoing post-traumatic stress disorder, found deep and slow breathing significantly helpful in dealing with the stress symptoms. These powerful practices also help in dealing with what experts now call ‘election stress disorder’. A study by Italian researchers also showed that deep breathing practices helped improve mood and reduce stress. The participants self-reported these significant changes. The lab reports and ECGs also showed their cortisol levels and heart rate were down.
You order the brain to activate the parasympathetic system by breathing deeply. This order that bodily functions responsible for rest, duly follow.
Wherever you are seated, simply close your eyes, and practice a few rounds of Nadi shodhana pranayama or alternate nostril breathing, to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, reduce the levels of stress and anxiety, and center your mind.