If you’re an American – heck, if you’re anywhere on the globe – you would be pardoned for feeling a bit of anxiety today, the end of a long, dispiriting, and even embarrassing Presidential campaign. The good news is that voting is finally here, and there’s a good chance we’ll have a new President informally recognized by tomorrow.
So tomorrow is another day. But let’s address that anxiety you still might be feeling today with some stress-reducing tips to help you get through the next 24 hours. And seriously, if you’re a public speaker, these tips will help you any time you need to relax – before an important presentation, for example.
1.Find a useful, repetitive task to engage in. Mow the lawn, rake leaves, re-organize the spice rack, wash the dishes – now’s the time to get busy getting repetitive. This action will allow your mind to wander a bit, chill out, and find a little peace. Try to be fully present in performing the task you choose. That will aid you in relaxing, and reduce the chance that you’ll mis-file all those spices.
2.Go for a walk in a natural setting. There’s lots of research that shows that humans have lower stress in natural surroundings rather than cityscapes. I assume this covers all such situations except shooting the rapids down a flooded river while trying to escape the bad guys who are shooting at the inflated tube you’re hanging on to. Rather, go for a simple walk in a peaceful setting. Zika-laden mosquitoes optional.
3.Do something for someone else. Call it Karma, call it charity, or call it kindness, doing something nice for someone else will get you out of your head and allow you to shift the focus elsewhere for the time it takes to perform the kindness. The catch here is to be aware enough that you don’t perform the wrong act. I once had the opportunity to help the proverbial little old lady across the street, only to be accused of kidnapping her once we got to the other side, because she was actually heading in the other direction. A little advanced research helps, and will ensure that you’re not arrested on a felony charge.
4.Get started doing something related to the anxiety-provoking issue. If you’re anxious about that speech, or that election, then try rehearsing, or walking the stage if that’s handy, or running your lines if it isn’t – or working as an election volunteer. By doing a little something related to the anxiety source, you chip away at that anxiety, reduce the magnitude of the task, and get yourself moving all at the same time.
5.Talk about what’s bugging you. Clearly labeling the source of upset is a great way of de-mystifying it and discharging the buildup of the worry. If you describe to yourself (or to someone else) the emotional content of your stressor, you’ll find it strangely comforting. A problem shared is a problem halved – well, not really; it’s still yours. But now someone else can bug you about it.
Practice these anxiety-reducing techniques to get you through the day tomorrow, if you need to, and through the next buildup to a presentation that would otherwise cause you heartburn. You’ll be glad you did.