“You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one” -Tom Kite
Despite all the mishegoss going on about the upcoming election, this is NOT going to be about politics. Well, not directly, anyway.
I have never considered myself especially politically active. Yes, I identify as liberal and as a feminist, and I’ve certainly made my feelings known about certain political/social issues. But I have generally tried to take a broad view with respect to politics. I typically have educated myself enough to identify which issues and candidates best align with the personal philosophies and beliefs that I’ve developed over the years, without getting bogged down in the minutiae. This time around, for me and for so many others, it is so very different. I’ve gotten bogged down in the minutiae. I’ve obsessively read articles and opinions, I’ve pounced on bullshit clickbait, and I’ve completely gone down the rabbit hole of engaging in pointless debate with strangers on social media. Not always literally, but I’ve definitely had some well thought-out arguments with internet pundits in my head. I have been feeling like I’ve lost my freaking mind.
And then, I heard the term “election anxiety”, which immediately put a name to what I’ve been feeling. And apparently, it describes what a great number of people are feeling right about now. In this NY Times article, there the American Psychological Association is referenced as stating that 52 percent of Americans are feeling high levels of stress about the upcoming election. To put that into perspective, per the United States Census Bureau, the estimated number of American citizens eligible to vote, based on data collected in 2010-2014, is about 314,107,085. So, take 52 percent of 314+ million and you have an estimated, yes, 157 MILLION people completely stressed out by the election. Which just adds to my personal level of anxiety, truthfully.
By now, you’ve likely already decided who you are voting for. And perhaps you’re looking forward to the election and exercising your right to vote. But you may also feel angry, anxious, and even scared. You may be exhausted by all political things and just done with discussing anything. But what to do for the next several days?
I’ve decided, that unless some TRULY breaking news happens regarding my chosen candidates—not the candidates I’m NOT voting for, because I’ve already decided to tune out all of that, then I am going to spend the next several days immersing myself in what I hope are healthy and positive distractions. As follows:
- Practice gratitude. I am going to put into writing, every day, at least three things I’m grateful for. Whether it’s on paper in the journal I’ve kept intermittently for the past several years, or in a text message to a friend or relative, or on social media remains to be seen, but I will do this. And I’m secretly hoping this will become a new routine.
- Looking for funny. Because I have what I consider to be a good, semi-cerebral-but-also-juvenile kind-of-twisty sense of humor, there plenty of funny stuff out there that appeals to me. I’m not talking mean pranks or Oh, Here Goes Dad Getting Hit in the Balls. Again. I love puns, verbal or visual, and stupid, non-harmful shenanigans pretty much make me laugh until I snort.
- Talking to friends. I have several friends who aren’t physically close to me, but who are close to my soul. They are the best of the best and make me think, laugh, cry, love and repeat. I will pull them closer and we will do all of that, plus share stupid shit that makes us laugh until we cry or pee our pants or both.
- Physical activity. SO MUCH THIS. I am participating in a couple of fitness challenges this month. One via a small Facebook group, one mainly through daily and weekly emails. I have slacked the first two days of the month, but as of the 3rd day of the month, I am ALL IN.
- Mindless activity. I try to knit. I’m horrendous at it, because I’m self-taught and I don’t pay close enough attention to not drop stitches or get the yarn tangled. But I’m trying, and I’m making my first attempt at an actual scarf. Okay, I’m honestly on my fourth attempt at this actual scarf, but I’m GOING TO DO IT. Or not. But it keeps me from overthinking about other crap that I can’t do a damn thing about.
- Fake it ‘til you make it. Even if I’m feeling anxious, depressed, angry…I don’t have to let the world know, right? I have employed this tactic many, many times in my life, and a lot of times it does lead to positive experiences and emotions. Studies show that smiling, whether you feel like smiling or not, can lift your mood. So I’m going to employ that tactic.
So there are my plans, what are your favorite distractions?