T.G.I.F.: It’s Been A Long Week

Look away, America. For your own good, look away. Everything will still be there when you come back. Even once the vote counting’s done, there’ll be the recounting, and the tag-along lawsuits.

So take a walk, take a breath, take a break from the election drama unspooling at a pace better suited to a garden slug than an advanced nation’s sophisticated vote-counting system. So, psychologists say, maybe you should get off the smartphone, get back to work, and get some perspective…

“One of the things that happens with uncertainty is we often don’t think realistically about the outcome, and we tend to think catastrophically. So, you’re already thinking that if your candidate loses it’s going to be awful, it’s going to be unbearable, it’ll be disastrous,” said psychologist Shelley Carson. “We overestimate how this event — or any event — is going to affect our happiness in the future.” …

The year “2020 has been filled with many things, and uncertainty has been a major one,” said Sperling, who is also director of training and research at McLean Hospital’s Anxiety Mastery Program. “To have ongoing uncertainty with this election on top of all the uncertainty we’ve already had this year, I can imagine that being particularly trying. People are eager for results, some certainty, some knowledge of what’s going to happen.”

Sperling said worries about the unknown trigger the body’s autonomic nervous system, which controls our fight-or-flight response and recruits internal resources such as the stress hormone cortisol. Under normal circumstances, this heightened response lasts only until the uncertainty is resolved, and the body returns to normal. During prolonged periods of uncertainty, however, the stress can wear us down…

“These are unprecedented times where there is a lot more at stake now,” Sperling said. “That may make this election feel bigger than they may have felt in the past. … There are so many big decisions that people may feel there’s a lot that’s important to them that’s at stake.”

Sperling suggested counteracting uncertainty by carving out times in our day for activities that are personally meaningful and that we control, whether it’s going for a walk, having a cup of coffee without interruption, or connecting with people who are supportive of us.

Carson said going for a walk not only breaks one’s focus on national events, it provides an exercise boost. She suggested deep breathing for two minutes, which has been shown to calm the autonomic nervous system. We can also try meditation or listing things for which we feel grateful, because anxiety and gratitude are incompatible, she said.

“The thing to do is step back from it. You have to quit hitting ‘refresh,’ ” Carson said. “You can distract yourself. … Go do something different. If you can put the phone down, that’s wonderful.”

—  Alvin Powell, from “Feeling election stress? Stop hitting ‘refresh’ in The Harvard Gazette (Nov 4, 2020)

Comments

  1. Applies for any time we feel overwhelmed/stressed. These are such simple things to do. Stepping away is number one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s what I’m trying to do. Focus on something mundane.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “The thing to do is step back from it. You have to quit hitting ‘refresh,’ ” Carson said. 

    Still 1% of votes left to count … sigh. Your election has the entire world hitting refresh!

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Long week indeed!! … easier said than done!! … ““The thing to do is step back from it. You have to quit hitting ‘refresh,’ Carson said. “You can distract yourself. … Go do something different. If you can put the phone down, that’s wonderful.”

    Like

  5. But the more we hit refresh the faster it’ll go!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know it is Hard for People to Put their Focus, Inward & Outward in balance…Such a Positive Benefit of Uplift to Shift Focus!!! Glad we don’t have smart phones…dear hubster has an old flip phone he doesn’t even know how to text…he does engage in the tv news & radio, ugh…we go for walks (without our masks), we watched a movie with our daughter last night, we cook, we clean, we talk, we read, we rake leaves…we chose not to be consumed by the big picture…my cell generally is turned off unless our girl is away from the house…we have the tv off, a lot of the time…we drove to a farm today…we bought some #2 Comice Pears will be making spiced, vanilla pear Jam tomorrow (which will smell and taste amazing)…a couple of pie pumpkins and a beautiful butternut squash for soup…it took us 28 minutes round trip…we saw and heard the first groups of Geese flying in formation…we appreciate the magic of ordinary days and We Hope that life doesn’t change drastically over the coming years…I do understand how difficult life is for so many around the world with Covid-19 and we’ve spoke about how horrible it is for the children of the World Currently… We continue to pray for so many situations in this World and we are Kind To Others…living were we live is beautiful though so Much Violent Unrest…if we had everything in order we’d be moving to a different area. Happiness, Joy and Peace comes from Within and I pray that people around the world and here in the USA don’t Let Fear of the Unknown Consume !!! them…Reality is Constantly Changing & None of Us Knows Where the Next Breath Will Lead Us…We Look Upward…and Move Forward…Thankful for Life…”Each Breath Is A Gift” Whether Challengingly Difficult or an automatic Normal…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ahhhhhh, yes –

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I wish I had read this a couple of days ago…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I step into my studio almost everyday. In these times, I’m there a lot.
    It is there, immersed in the creative process that ‘these times’ drift away and I find myself centered in each moment passing by.
    Yesterday, I listened to the muse calling me to step outside my studio doors to stand along the fence dividing our property from the river. I did. Filmed what I saw and then spent the day creating a poem and a video to go with it.
    Beauty Lives In Every Season
    That process completely pulled me out of angst, worry, concern, fear, anxiety… into…. beauty, joy, love, patience, kindness, empathy, curiosity, courage, peace…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ooops — I thought it would just leave the link – not paste it in! Sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Listen to what makes sense to you and what fills your boat. Experts keep saying the same thing in varying ways. No validation required… unless you are feeling guilty about ice cream of course 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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