PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES & SELF-CARE
It’s Time to Prepare a Political Mental Health Self-Care Kit
We’re in for a bumpy ride, folks. Build your kit and buy a ticket to the circus. There’ll be at least one clown in attendance.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I avoid politics and most news headlines throughout the year. As a person who has been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I have learned how to avoid triggers and that I don’t need all the information, all the time. Instead, I do what I refer to as “toplining,” which is basically reading the significant headlines and maybe a Twitter synopsis from legitimate news sources and leaving it at that.
I live in a self-care bubble, and I do so on purpose, with purpose, as a way to keep myself sane and healthy. For instance, I know the world is on fire, and people are dying; I don’t need to check in with the news every day to find out just how many are dying, when, and where. It’s a pandemic. I get it. I just imagine the worst that can happen and live my life accordingly.
In between the headlines, I take care of myself with the help of a series of self-care kits. There is one for my baths and showers, one for bedtime, and several for my workdays. Many of the items I use to stay mentally fit amidst what feels like an emotional apocalypse are listed below and will be engaged before, during, and after the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates.
Choose Your Fighters
Choose at least three items or actions from this list by gathering items you may already have around the house or can run to the store and buy. If you’re having or attending a watch party, send this article to everyone who’s attending and decide who’s bringing what, like a self-care potluck!
- Exercise or Yoga — helps release endorphins and release stress and tension beforehand.
- Shower or Bath — helps release tension and calm muscles with very warm water, bath (Epsom)salts, and aromatherapy shower/bath gel. Try doing this in the dark or low light or moonlight.
- Incense, Candle, or Essential Oil Diffuser — helps relieve stress as well as clear and focus the mind with scents such as lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and frankincense.
- Stress Relieving Tea — warms and soothes the body helping to relax tense muscles and an upset gut. Try this one; it’s my favorite.
- Your Favorite Snack — comforts the soul in times of stress and can take us back to happier and safer times in our lives, like our childhoods.
- Plush Socks and Robe — helps warm the body and calm tension in the body, especially when worn directly after a warm shower or bath and while drinking stress-relieving tea.
- Heating Pad — helps calm tense muscles, anxiety, and any physical pain that may manifest due to emotional pain you may feel.
- Turn Off Your Ringer and Stay Off Social Until It’s Over — helps you focus on the debate as well as your thoughts and feelings about it, versus being influenced by people you know who are not with you and others on the internet.
- Journal and Pen — helps you capture your feelings, thoughts, and questions throughout the debate, which you can share with friends, family, and on social media once you’ve gathered and organized them.
- Weighted Blanket — helps you feel safe and secure during a time when safety and security are desperately lacking. A bed comforter can also provide a degree of protection.
- Fidget Toys — helps channel negative and nervous energy with a healthy tactile experience with fidget spinners, tension balls, or putty.
- Stuffed or Real Animals — helps calm panic, anxiety, fear, and other signs and feelings of emotional distress.
- No Unhealthy Vices — helps keep you away from unhealthy ones such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or sugary and caffeinated drinks. These harmful practices only stand to exasperate your pain, anxiety, or fearful responses to the debate.
- Lower the Lights — helps create an atmosphere of calm, which directly contrasts with the debate.
Good Night and Good Luck
It may feel or appear silly to be this prepare for the debates, but the fact of the matter is that we are living in volatile times. Most of us are having visceral reactions to our country’s political, environmental, racial, social, and economic climates, to say nothing of the death and destruction caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of us are depressed. We are stressed. We are feeling lost and hurt, alone, and afraid.
So, do yourself and your family a favor, and no matter what happens, take care of yourself. You cannot control what happens next. You can do your part, you can show up for your country, your neighbors, and your loved ones, but you cannot dictate the turns we’re all about to take. Therefore, no matter what, put your oxygen mask on first, and I’ll see you on the other side. Good night and good luck.