This week has sucked. For everyone. For those whose candidate lost, people are sifting through heavy emotions. For those whose candidate won, they find themselves having continual political arguments with others. We may have a new President-elect, but nobody won this week. Emotions are running high, our country seems more divided than ever, and prolonged stress is beginning to find a home in our bodies.
Stress can have huge impacts on our health (including our menstrual cycle). It can literally make us sick if we don’t learn to control it. Exercise, a healthy diet, meditation or prayer, and loving relationships are all great ways to lower stress. But what about when you need stress relief now? Fortunately, there are a great many ways we can lower our stress in the moment.*
Here are four of my favorites:
Take a hot bath
Fill your tub with hot water, a quarter cup Epsom salt, and 15 or so drops of lavender oil. Lower the lights, put on some ambient music and pour yourself a glass of champagne, a mug of hot herbal tea or a kale smoothie—whatever you enjoy drinking. Take deep breaths and spend time awakening your subconscious. Day dream, get lost in happy memories, let your mind drift off, and focus on anything that allows you to foster warm, happy feelings.
Even Hillary knows the benefits nature has on stress. So, find somewhere secluded and go be in the sunshine. Listen to the birds chirp or watch the last of the autumn leaves flutter to the ground. Sit next to water or take a long hike through the woods. Breathe in fresh air and soak up as much Vitamin D as you can.
Read a book
And I mean an actual book. Do not sit at your computer or with your phone and read something, step away from the technology. Do you have a book on the shelf you’ve read 100 times? Pick it up and read it 101. Get lost in a story of another world, another time, a love story, an inspirational travel memoir, your favorite celebrities biography or read about how paper is made. Read anything that gets you focusing on something else. Might I suggest the Tao of Pooh?
Whether it’s painting, drawing, dancing, writing, photography, origami, knitting, or any other form of artistic expression, do it. Make something tangible. When we use our hands it lets us get out of our head. This can help us make sense of what we are feeling. Plus, the world could use as much beauty as possible right now.
There are a lot of emotions swirling in our world and it is important to honor them. It is also important to set boundaries for yourself and be mindful of how your feelings might be affecting your health. Stress is a huge burden on the body, especially if it is prolonged. So dedicate some space today for a time out. Self-care will not only allow you the opportunity to reflect, release and more clearly understand what you are feeling, it can give you a better vision for how to move forward.
*I highly suggest doing these activities alone. This is not the time to risk more political discussion, this is the time to be peaceful and reflective.
[Ed. note: On top of the high emotions this week, we were also saddened by the passing of Leonard Cohen. Here are a few songs to help with your peaceful reflection.]
Amy Sutherland is a period-positive advocate and graduate student at the University of Minnesota where she is currently researching and writing her thesis on how menstrual stereotypes and stigmas affect health outcomes in women and girls. Read her full bio here.