3 simple techniques to de-stress this weekend after a prolonged and fraught election, according to a therapist
- The 2020 presidential election has been unprecedented in many ways, including the prolonged stress people are feeling.
- Therapists shared tips they are giving their clients on how to stay calm this week and beyond.
- Taking the time to breathe, tell yourself affirmations, and do something creative can all be ways to ground yourself despite any anxiety.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
The polls closed on Tuesday, but it wasn't until Friday that the result became clear, and Insider and Decision Desk HQ projected Vice President Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
It's not over, as President Donald Trump contests the results of the election and the country waits on results from remaining swing states like Georgia.
Therapist Damon Jacobs told Insider that, while elections are typically stressful for his clients, the prolonged nature of this election makes is different from the rest.
What's more, it's been a much more stressful year in general. Many of his clients have also been attending protests for Black Lives Matter and against police brutality, and all of them have been impacted (directly or indirectly) by COVID-19, adding to their stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.
As the votes emerged this week, Jacobs said, the fact that it turned out to be so close between Trump and Biden, came as a surprise to many of his clients, and they weren't sure what to do about that feeling.
"These issues are deeply personal," Jacobs told Insider. Many of his clients, particularly those dealing with narcissism, find the president triggering and "hateful." "So to see half of the US enabling [Trump] is very difficult for many of my clients."
Here are three tips he has to best deal with anxiety this week.
Breathe to center yourself
The first thing Jacobs recommends his clients do is to breathe.
"Of course, we are all human, and it's very hard not to fear the worst given the ups and downs over the past 48 hours. But the trick in those moments is to breathe, come back to center," Jacobs told Insider.
There are a few different techniques you can try.
First, keep your mouth shut, as Insider's Anna Medaris Miller reported this week. Doing so, while breathing through your nose, can lower your blood pressure and calm your nerves. Focus on extending your exhale as you're doing so to help slow your heart and reduce stress.
You can also try box breathing, a recognized technique where you breathe in for four seconds, and exhale for four, as Insider's Andrea Michelson has written. Focusing on the counting process will help distill other concerns in your mind.
Give yourself affirmations
Jacobs told Insider that, during the pandemic, he has advised his clients to come up with a list of daily affirmations to ground themselves.
- "At this moment I am safe"
- "At this moment I am loved"
- "At this moment I am healthy"
- "At this moment I have enough toilet paper"
He recommends anyone try these, while deep breathing, this week.
"It is a gentle humorous way of returning to the here and now, using thoughts, breath," Jacobs said.
Do something creative to bring yourself down to earth and out of your anxiety
Jacobs said another good way to ground yourself during this tumultuous period of time is by doing something to connect with your creativity and spirituality.
"I am also a very spiritual person, in that I believe there is a lot happening around us we don't know — that there is a benevolent energy of love in us and around us," Jacobs told Insider.
One of his favorite things to recommend is dancing, to get clients out of the stream of election news and into their bodies. Writing is another physical, yet more pensive, activity that can help you disconnect from the screen and the stress about the future, and focus on the here and now.
For some, though, being totally still and silent is a more calming way to focus. For that, Jacobs advises meditating and praying.
"[These] are all ways to connect with the abundant loving energy around us, and use that to help us survive challenges and the unknowns about the future," Jacobs said.
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