The week after the election is really hard. I’m going with my Temporary High Stress Coping Plan, which is basically this:
1. Eating lots of things that just SMACK of holy nutrition, such as broccoli and carrots and eggs and bananas and smoothies and yogurt and blueberries and salmon. Making sure I get plenty of protein, because that seems to help. Making sure I eat nice big quantities, because a full stomach is comforting: I think it triggers a biological “everything is okay” feeling. Hunger causes stress, as it ought to for survival purposes.
2. Having on hand any edibles/drinkables that are happy and supportive. Cookies. Vodka. Chocolate bars. Cheese popcorn. Bailey’s Irish Cream. Good dips. Potato chips. Drambuie. Smoked almonds. Get it, gurl.
3. Exercising. It’s good for reducing stress. But it’s hard to do while stress-nauseated and existentially discouraged. So I don’t beat myself up if I can’t make myself do it; I do remind myself that it has been helpful in the past. Sometimes I say to myself, “Listen, just set the treadmill to, like, 1.3 mph and let your feet drag resentfully for five minutes.” Then once I’m ON the treadmill, I start to feel a little better and that makes me crank up the speed. I tell myself I can stop anytime, so that I don’t feel as inclined to rebel.
4. “Everything is going to be all right” music sometimes helps, but I’m not finding it very helpful right now. It feels like a promise no one has the ability to make at this point. I’m leaving it on the list because maybe you are reading this list much later, and applying it to a different sort of stress. In which case I recommend Odds Are by The Barenaked Ladies. Trudee mentioned it in the comments section awhile back, and I’ve been using it as therapy ever since. Also Tonight, Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae: La la la, whatever; la la la, it doesn’t matter; la la la, oh well; it’s all right.
5. Thinking of this as a literal physical illness that will pass. I’ve used this in the past when there’s been a confrontation or stressful situation I can’t stop thinking about, and I’m queasy with adrenaline: I think of it as being sick, and I remember how on other occasions I have felt this way and then recovered. I have to suffer through it for awhile, but it’s not permanent. This is not helping as much right now, when I don’t know on which approximate date to pin my hopes of relief.
6. Finding distractions, when possible. Exciting books. Riveting TV series. Good phone games. I downloaded AlphaBetty Saga, which is sort of like Candy Crush and sort of like Scrabble. I’m watching Love, which I’m finding mesmerizing and uncomfortable in a very distracting way. I don’t know yet if I’d recommend it. There’s a lot of crude/naked/awkward. Yesterday I worked on the CSS, a stressful financial-aid form some colleges require in addition to the FAFSA; I figured I was miserable anyway and might as well be doing something miserable.
7. Finding happy evidence of Good Humans, when possible. Museums. Trick-or-treating. Playgrounds. Animal shelters.
8. Finding things to look forward to. I like to think about Thanksgiving recipes, and Christmas. If you have the budget room, I suggest ordering/buying a few fun things (a book you’re on the waiting list for at the library; new pjs; sequined shoes). Post-election presents, as a reward for surviving.
9. Doing practical things, if any. Sometimes there aren’t any. This time I found it comforting and helpful to write checks: ACLU, American Refugee Committee, Planned Parenthood, PlanUSA.org. It’s a drop in the bucket, but it IS a drop, and it’s IN THE BUCKET.