As I write this, my country is going through the most stressful election in my lifetime. On top of an out of control pandemic that, despite whatever anyone says, is not “rounding the corner”, anxiety and fear are high in my little part of the world.
A friend who is also stressing out about the state of things sent me this quote.
You cannot control someone else’s behavior. You can only control your own reaction.
Then she followed it up with a quote from Aldous Huxley:
I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.
The idea is simple: instead of feeling helpless, we can take control of ourselves, even if it’s in small ways.
She sent these quotes because she understood their strength. She also knew that I was feeling powerless in these unsettled times.
Everyone reacts to stress and anxiety differently and what I do won’t work for everyone. Some people take a more local activist stand, but the pandemic is forcing me to focus inward. Here is how I’m navigating these turbulent waters:
First, I’m tuning out the continual news coverage. That doesn’t mean I’m not following the election, too much is at stake to totally check out. But I am being selective at how many times I turn on the television or check my news feed. For me, a constant stream of politics ties me in knots.
I’m also meditating, finding a quiet space to simply breathe. Slipping on headphones and concentrating on something as simple as the breath allows me to let go of the stress.
Journaling is another outlet, but I watch what I choose to write about. If my writing does nothing but rehash my anxiety, I’m not feeling any better. I find that churning up negative emotions gives them power over my well-being and darkens my day. Instead I journal about the good things in my life, my happiest memories, my favorite people.
Finally, I’m taking a deep dive into reading. Cracking open a good mystery that transports me to another time or place keeps me centered. When I curl up in my favorite reading chair with a good book, an hour or two has passed without me noticing the clock.
How do you deal with stressful situations? What takes you to your happy place when you feel the world around you has gone off the rails?