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It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel… not so fine. Thanks R.E.M. for the soundtrack to our 2020 lives!

There’s so much anxiety about the election. I don’t know about you, but my sleep has been off for days. I’ve had trouble falling asleep and then I startle awake at about 4am every morning

If you’re not in the US, I’m sure you’ve probably still heard about our election… and our out of control COVID situation.

The unknowns and what’s at stake are hard to put into words.

If Joe Biden wins (and the democrats can take back the Senate and maintain the house), it may not undo the damage inflicted over the last four years, but it may help prevent further damage from happening over the next four.

I also realize that just because you despise the current administration, does not mean the election of a white, moderate, male democrat is all that comforting to you. There is no way around that.

Honor whatever complicated feelings come up. The “both/ands”. I would be relieved if Donald Trump were voted out of office AND I’m discouraged that we continue to be faced with the realization that large parts of our society seem to think old, white men are the only ones qualified to run our country. There is space for both of those feelings.

What has happened over the last four years will shape our country for decades to come. What will happen over the next four years is anybody’s guess.

We are going to need everyone to show up as their best, brightest, sharpest selves.

If you’re anything like me, it feels like you’ve been holding your breath for the last five years. When we live in a state of vigilance and finally get relief, our bodies get the message that the threat has passed. All of the systems that our bodies have to keep us safe and energized (e.g., adrenaline, cortisol, etc.) stop. This is sometimes referred to as the “Let-Down Effect”. When the threat has passed, your body succumbs to sickness. This used to happen to me during almost every break during school. I spent the semesters working, playing, and over-scheduled. Then, spring break would come. Finally, a time to rest. Almost always, a couple of days in, I woke up sick

Our bodies are so smart. They know there are times when getting sick could be life or death so they do what they need to do to keep us alive. The problem is that that state was meant to be temporary. In our modern lives, the constant state of stress we live in tells our body that there’s a constant threat. Our stress response was designed to kick in when we faced a danger, like a cheetah chasing us. Our bodies are unable to tell the difference between being chased by a cheetah and the stress that comes from an overly scheduled life. Many of us function in a near constant state of fight, flight or freeze.

In order to help our bodies leave the fight, flight or freeze state, we need to complete the stress cycle. Stress is inevitable and even necessary. It’s how we process/deal with it that makes the difference.

Writing is one way that we can complete the stress cycle so that it doesn’t build up in our bodies. Preventing this buildup is key to staying mentally and physically healthy all of the time but especially during times of uncertainty.

As you’re doing these exercises, keep in mind that this is where you can be 100% honest without having to worry about others’ feelings and judgements. Whatever comes up, write it down. No guilt and no judgement.

ADDITIONAL THINGS

DENIAL AND DISTRACTION ARE USEFUL TOOLS SOMETIMES. Be gentle with yourself. There is no wrong way to feel or react. If you need to binge an entire series on Netflix, be okay with that.

    • Sleeping is one of the MOST IMPORTANT things you can do for yourself during a crisis. But, when we’re dealing with the stress, it can often make it nearly impossible to get to sleep. Keep the following things in mind.
      • You may need extra sleep right now. If you’re someone who typically needs 7 hours of sleep, you may need 8, 9, or 10 right now. That’s okay. Listen to what your body is asking for.
      • With that being said, try to keep your sleep/wake schedule as consistent as possible.
      • Stay away from caffeine after lunch.
      • Avoid alcohol. Not only can alcohol increase your anxiety, it can impact your sleep quality. 
      • Get some light. Even in cloudy places (hello! I’m from Seattle!) it’s important to get out into the light. If the weather is too severe to get outside safely, consider investing in a “happy light” like this one.
    • Move your body
      • Walk, stretch, swim, dance, whatever feels good.
    • Be intentional about your news consumption
      • Turn off the alerts on your phone.
      • Choose 1-2 reliable sources. Check them at designated times each day and then log off.

    By participating in/reading my coaching service/website/blog/email series, you acknowledge that I am not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and my services do not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. Coaching is in no way to be construed or substituted as psychological counseling or any other type of therapy or medical advice. I will at all times exercise my best professional efforts, skills and care. However, I cannot guarantee the outcome of coaching efforts and/or recommendations on my website/blog/email series and my comments about the outcome are expressions of opinion only. I cannot make any guarantees other than to deliver the coaching services purchased as described.

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