I’m not going to sugar coat this: I was deeply disheartened, disillusioned, and disappointed by the results of this week’s election. However, that’s not what this post is about. If you don’t share my politics, please keep reading — this post is party-neutral. I’m hoping it provides peace, support, and healing, regardless of who or what you voted for.
For those of you who didn’t get the results you hoped for, I get it. You feel awful. Physically and mentally wrecked. So later on, we’re going to talk about some things you can do to help change that.
And for those of you who came out winners, I’m guessing you still might feel somewhat unsettled or uneasy — especially if you dig deep, and consider the relationships you have with those around you: specifically, the family members, colleagues, and friends who didn’t vote the same way you did.
Sure, you might feel relieved “they” didn’t win, but you’re probably also feeling emotionally separate or disconnected from the same “they” who are otherwise kind, fun, admirable, generous, smart, and likable. They just didn’t vote the way you did.
Here’s the weird thing: when we’re not talking politics with our family members, friends and colleagues who didn’t-vote-like-us, we probably really enjoy them. And they enjoy us. But the election happened, and now these relationships are strained and awkward. In essence, we’re separated. Divorced, even, from the friendship and camaraderie and bonding and love we’ve shared in the past. And that certainly doesn’t feel good.
Scared vs. Scared
Regardless of how we voted, we’re probably thinking: how could “they” be so stupid? So blind? So wrong? So ignorant?
But you know what? Both sides are thinking exactly the same thing.
In a Pew Research Center study, researchers found that “more than half of Democrats (55%) say the Republican Party makes them “afraid,” while 49% of Republicans say the same about the Democratic Party.”
What are we supposed to do about that?
I don’t have any easy answers today. But I do know this: holing up in our silos or within our bubbles — and failing to listen to or at least acknowledge our family member’s or friend’s or co-worker’s point-of-view — just adds gas to the fire of rage and hate and fear.
And rage and hate and fear never add up to anything good.
You Go First
So here’s the deal…
If we want to be listened to, we must listen first.
If we want to be welcomed, we must welcome first.
If we want to be treated kindly and with respect, we must treat others with kindness and respect first.
These are ninja-level strategies, for sure, and you can’t use them on the crazies or extremists or haters you see on television or in social media.
You need to start with the people you love, or simply like. Breathe deep, and reach across the aisle. Genuinely try to see that person with care and compassion, and look for the best, most highly evolved version of him or her. Even if they didn’t vote like you. And maybe even because they didn’t vote like you.
And most importantly: be the best, most highly evolved version of yourself, to serve as an example for that friend, family member or colleague who didn’t vote like you.
Hold space for the highest you, as you hold space for the highest him or her.
Only then can true healing happen. Which is what we all desperately need right now in this country we all love so much.
Is it easy to do these things? To be the first one to listen, the first one to be kind, the first one to be respectful?
No. It isn’t easy, and we can’t nail it with every conversation — or confrontation — with those who don’t share our opinions.
But we must try.
Because if no one’s trying, we’ll never get out of this mess.
And if we can’t try yet, we must merely think about trying, visualizing the possibility of a positive outcome. Eventually, we’ll be ready to try.
What if You’re Still Feeling Sick About the Election
I’ll admit I’m not feeling awesome this week.
But there are many things we can do to take care of ourselves in these challenging times.
And take care of ourselves we must.
Because how can we be peace-makers, love warriors, light workers or change agents if we’re feeling low energy, depressed, despondent, burned out, or exhausted?
Here are some ideas to help you get your mojo back, so that your best, most energized, most resourceful and resilient self can show up to do the work you now must do.
A consistent meditation practice can have a profound positive impact on stress, anxiety, focus, creativity, emotional resilience, and relationships. I highly recommend adding a meditation or mindfulness practice to your daily routine. The Headspace app is very convenient and user-friendly, or you might enjoy the free meditations offered on Tara Brach’s website. I also really enjoy the meditation offerings from Deepak Chopra and Oprah, especially their current program, “Creating Peace from the Inside Out.”
Get Your Sleep
Prioritizing adequate sleep is vital. It keeps your brain healthy and happy, your immune system strong, and your moods stable. Aim for 7+ hours of sleep a night. Too worked up for sleep? Unplug from screens (and social media feeds that fill you with rage) at least an hour before bedtime; instead, read something positive and life-affirming, such as Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening.
Eat Your Veggies
Let’s face it: crap food makes you feel like crap. And your health game needs to be on point if you’re going to make a real difference in this world. To keep things easy as possible, let’s start with vegetables. Loading up on fresh veggies will help provide maximum disease-fighting antioxidants, minerals, hydrating natural water content, and digestion-enhancing, detoxifying fiber. Filling up your plate with veggies also serves to “crowd out” unhealthier food choices, whether that actually means junk food such as fried food — or eating excessive amounts of otherwise healthy foods such as protein, grains, or starches. Don’t get hung up on the “right” preparations — for example, “is this dressing healthy?” or “Is it okay if the veggies are in a cream sauce?” Just focus on eating more vegetables. For starters, put down that burger and have a big-ass salad for lunch.
Sweat it Out
When we’re stressed out, our bodies produce excess hormones and toxins, and this makes us feel even worse than we already do. Sweating is one of the main ways our bodies get rid of those toxins, so be sure to show up for your workouts consistently. In addition to the detoxifying benefits, a workout will get the endorphins flowing. You’ll feel revitalized, reenergized, and ready for action. And if you can’t make it to your regular workout, take a hot bath with a cup or two of epsom salts, and a few drops of lavender essential oil if you have it. The hot water will open up your pores and let the toxins flow out, enabling your body to relax and de-stress.
Lay off the Booze
I know the temptation to drown our sorrows is real, but you must resist. Alcohol might blunt unpleasant feelings or stress in the short term, but it’s also a depressant. This can make us feel even worse about the world or the state of our country. It’s also hard to keep the “love wins” vibe going when you’re hungover or low energy.
Open Your Heart
It’s so simple, and it sounds like it won’t work. But it does. It really does help you feel better. This restorative yoga pose involves lying on the ground, with your shoulders and spine supported by a pillow, some towels, or a bolster. If you’re unfamiliar with heart openers, you can find a photo and instructions here. Spend a few minutes in this pose and you’ll instantly feel restored, calm, and buoyed by a lighter energy.
I know this seems like something that should be spontaneous — not something you plan. However, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of waiting around for something hilarious to happen. Or, you feel like you’re never going to laugh again. So let someone else drive — hang out with your funniest friends, or queue up your favorite comedies. I know someone who, after particularly stressful days at work, would come home and deliberately watch something silly, like Old School. Strategic “use” of comedies would routinely transport him out of his stressful surroundings, and lift his mood. I often use this technique on airplanes, when we’re in the middle of a turbulent flight. Having something funny loaded onto my phone or iPad really helps take my mind off the turbulence, so I can start to de-stress.
I don’t mean move to Canada, silly — I mean get outside! The air quality is much better outside, and you’ll benefit from the higher oxygen content. If the sun’s out, even better — you’ll get a little vitamin D boost to support your immune system and mood. Spending even a few minutes outside can be helpful. In other words, you don’t have to commit to a big hike or run. Simply walk around the block, run up and down a hill a few times, or sit in a chair and soak in the natural world around you. Just this morning, I decided to linger outside a few minutes before getting into my car. I heard some interesting clicking sounds, and looked up to discover a group of hummingbirds hanging out in our leafless, November trees. It lifted my spirits to see those little lovelies hanging out. Spend a few minutes outside, every day, and I’m sure you’ll be treated to all sorts of everyday wonders.
Turn it Up
This one’s a given, right? But maybe you’ve gotten kind of music-deprived over the election season, always tuning in to the media to see what’s going on. Well, how about you take a break from all that? Go see a live show. Or bust out your favorite upbeat tunes and let the music do its therapy on you. If you’re tired of your usual go-to playlists, check out Spotify for these playlists: Mood Booster, Feel Good Indie Rock, or Get Happy. Or you could put on Musical Therapy, and settle back over that bolster for some heart-openers.
I hope these tips help provide some inner peace and calm to fuel your recovery from this week’s events, and energize you for the challenges that no doubt await all of us in the weeks, months and years ahead. Your people, the country, and the world need you running on all cylinders. So take care of yourself so you can show up for the task at hand.
As they say in yoga, the light in me honors the light in you.