Paralyzed by Politics.
When Emotions Take Over Everything...
Emotions are human. And they are powerful.
Many of us, like you, are feeling extremely overwhelmed by the politics in our country. We are all eating and breathing in every bit of media in order to follow what is happening and then uncontrollably experiencing the emotions that go with it. Maybe you can identify with some of the things that are being experienced:
Emotions of defeat and hopelessness
Inability to decompress from the day
Feeling like all else lacks a sense of importance
It is natural to feel these things and we do not diminish that. Feeling emotions are human and they are powerful. But, in the whirlwind of it, you may forget that you do have some control over them. Not control over the initial experience of the emotion but a choice in how you respond. It is important to recognize the difference between being immersed and being consumed.
This is not sustainable.
Our goal is to help change this method of consumption and emotional reaction. You must keep yourself balanced and centered if you want to be healthy, positive and productive for the long haul. We encourage you to join us in making a conscious decision every day to acknowledge how we are feeling and then taking active steps to assist our bodies in the process of healing.
That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change. But that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent. -Chinese Proverb
You can't control or prevent stress but you can address how you respond to it and you can help create an environment around and within yourself to better process it. To be clear, we are not suggesting that you ignore what is happening or to be inactive in the process. We are suggesting that you take a step back and include tools and habits in your life to address worry, excessive thinking, fear, anger, frustration and grief because these emotions are being experienced in a big way and you should prepare yourself.
Have you ever faked sick so well that you actually got sick? The Mind-Body Connection.
The major concern for us, and should be for you as well, is the Mind-Body connection and the very real impact this is having, or will have, on your mental and physical health. While this relationship has long been understood by Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is also recognized by Western Medicine.
If you let your stress response run amok it can cause some real health concerns. Usually a stress response turns on when there is threat and then turns off when it is gone. But in a chronic state, the stress response never turns off, your hormones get elevated and crazy and our body has to find new ways to adapt in a chaotic environment. Some of the issues that can arise:
Diarrhea and Constipation
Weight gain or loss
Foggy Mind, Forgetfulness and Inability to Concentrate
Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Dr. Candace Pert, did pioneering work and research discovering the “Molecules of Emotion” and understanding the connection between the mind and body through neuropeptides and their receptors that are located throughout the entire body.
“As our feelings change, this mixture of peptides travels throughout your body and your brain. And they’re literally changing the chemistry of every cell in your body.” -Dr. Candace Pert
To learn more about the stress response from a western perspective click here.
THE FIRST THING ON YOUR ACTION LIST SHOULD BE TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF.
Step one is acknowledging what you are feeling and step two is giving yourself permission to take care of yourself. You are not devaluing any other person or any other cause by taking some moments for self care. Here are 10 things you can start doing today.
Oxygenate and Hydrate. Do not look at your phone the second you wake. When you first wake in the morning, take a few cleansing deep breaths. You can even try some breathing exercises such as the 4:7:8 technique. Then drink a full glass of room temperature water.
Acknowledge the people you begin your day with. If you live with friends, family, a significant other or a roommate, take the time to say good morning. Welcoming the day with kind words and a hug, kiss or even a high five can set the tone for a more positive day.
Make mealtimes sacred and don’t skip them. Pay attention to how, what and when you eat. Choose healthy options and chew properly! And while you are eating, stay focused on that activity and the company you are with. If you are scrolling through a newsfeed, you are not being mindful of your current action. Don’t miss out on the special benefit of healing, nourishment and connectivity meals and mealtimes provide.
Designate time to absorb news and social media and time to engage in actions that you see fit. BUT put a cap on it for the day. It is totally ok to have a stopping point. Knowing when to disengage is just as important. By scheduling time for this and creating a boundary you accomplish two things. First, you allow yourself time to participate. And since the time is limited, it might encourage you to be as productive as possible. Second, by creating a boundary you can be aware of when you are crossing it. Yes, there will be days where this takes over, but, it is up to you to balance it out. Have a particularly active and overwhelming day? Make sure to create space in the next day for quiet, calm and relaxation.
Get distracted. Sometimes you need to actively redirect your attention to something else in order to give your mind a break. While this should not become the go-to solution every time, it can be a good tool if you are having a difficult time stopping a runaway mind. Watch a funny movie, listen to loud music or even better, get outside and get your body moving! Have a mindfulness coloring book? Break out some crayons and color pencils and get creative!
Create a bedtime ritual. Whatever your normal bedtime is, two hours prior to that, do not watch tv and do not go on your phone. Commit to this. There is no reason to get your mind racing before you are trying to sleep and the light from phones and televisions disrupt natural sleep patterns. Use this time to take a warm bath, read poetry, listen to soothing music, do more breathing exercises, pick out what you are wearing and pack lunch for the next day...whatever you find relaxing.
Yoga, Meditation, Massage and Acupuncture. These four practices can all help reduce stress and anxiety. Sometimes you need outside intervention. Acupuncture directly can help recalibrate stress hormones in the body through the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis pathway as explained through studies and from a western perspective. But emotions have a deeply rooted place in Traditional Chinese Medicine and how they have a relationship to specific organs and energetic organ systems. This explanation can really turn into a mouthful. We invite you to call us if you want to nerd out about it or come get treated! If you want to get your feet wet with more information about emotions and TCM, read this and this.
Exercise. Ok, we know this is probably not your favorite option but DO IT. Move your body and increase circulation of blood and oxygen and circulate your lymph. THIS WILL HELP you feel better and stay healthy. Don’t have the motivation to go to a gym? No problem. Run up and down the stairs in your house, apartment building or subway station, jump on a mini trampoline in your living room while watching Netflix, blast a terribly fun pop song and dance your heart out for the entire song.
Cry, Scream, Sing & Laugh. Let it out. Feeling sad? Let yourself have a good, loud, ugly cry. Getting that bottled up in the chest feeling from being so mad and frustrated? Scream into a pillow! Need a positive boost? Belt out a song! (Yes, singing releases endorphins.) And a good giggle never hurt anybody. Have you heard of this lady, The Laughing Diva? Check her out.
Puppies and Kittens. That’s right. We went there. Animals have a wonderful way of calming us down. They are pure and kind and loyal and just want love and affection. Give your pet some extra snuggles and playtime. Don’t have a furry buddy? I bet one of your friends does. Take a walk together! Or, volunteer at a shelter like Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue.
We hope this post encourages you to incorporate some healthy daily habits.
Human Love & Solidarity