There is no doubt that the 2016 election has provoked a great deal of anxiety. Everywhere. With everyone.
My clients tell me that tension has been growing within families and rattled friendships when there is a difference in support with one candidate or the other. Turmoil has been present in the work place, in neighborhoods and within people’s hearts as they worry about the results of Tuesday’s election and what will happen to our country during the next four years.
Whether people hide their anxiety under the thick shell of anger – or just admit that they are really, really nervous about the outcome of the election, the anxiety has been brewing for months. Now, just a day before Election Day, the anxiety is being served up full strength.
Which brings us to the question: What do we do on Election Day?
People have been thinking about this already, and they aren’t waiting for Nov. 8 to start.
There’s the app, 10percent Happier, which is offering special election day meditations called Meditations for Election Stress which you can download on your iPhone or find online at the main site, where respected mediation teachers guide us how on emotions, balance and the news media.
Another group, Elevate The Vote, is asking us to make Election Day into a demonstration of the power of conscious intention through meditation. It’s promoting hundreds of meditation flash mobs to convene at polling stations across the United States. If you can’t make it out to meditate or there’s no flash mob in your precinct you can listen to and meditate with the audio broadcast at 3 p.m. PST /6 p.m. EST to smartphones across the nation and around the world.
You can take a break from the news and bring peace to your day:
- Be with others. While the tendency might be to complain or criticize the “other” side, agree to refrain from blaming and name calling, whether it is the candidate of the “other” party or the voters who vote for the candidate who is not your choice. Admittedly, this may take a great deal of discipline and focus, but please remember the blaming will not make you feel better.
- Tell each other stories of inspiration and goodness that are happening in your world and the world. Share with your friends by text, social media and in person. One of my current favorites is Disturbing the Peace, a documentary that follows a group of former enemy combatants - Israeli soldiers from the most elite units, and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison -- who have come together to challenge the status quo and say "enough." The film traces their transformational journeys from soldiers committed to armed battle to non-violent peace activists. It is a story of the human potential unleashed when we stop participating in a story that no longer serves us, and with the power of our convictions take action to create a new possibility. Or an eatery in Berlin, Germany, that takes food that’s considered “too ugly” to sell and makes delicious meals. Or a group of millennials who left corporate jobs to focus on the social good.
- Look at a cute picture of a baby, kitten or puppy (or duckling or some other cute being). Science researchers say that looking at cuteness triggers a release of dopamine, the “pleasure” chemical in your brain. Of course, do it consciously so that you return your attention to responsible tasks at another time.
- Send a blessing to someone in your life. This might be a person you know who’s facing a struggle, or someone you don’t know.
- Be in nature. Nature naturally slows us to its own speed, which is always slower than the manufactured world that we typically live in. Notice the persistence of nature, finding its path to grow and find sun even when there are obstacles, and its beauty.
- Remember your ancestors. Whether you come from family of immigrants – as most of us do – or from America’s native peoples, those who came before us faced many kinds of extremely challenging experiences. Yet they survived these challenges, passing life to you, which was the ultimate victory of their own lives.