1. Compartmentalize time spent on social media. It’s too easy to get caught up in the Facebook or Instagram loop, where there are new posts every few minutes that increase your stress level. For example, the hashtag #FreeMelania and the GIF of her looking miserable at the inauguration triggered women who were victims of domestic violence. This is an extreme example, but it’s clear that both sides of the political spectrum are stirred up by political memes, GIFS, and posts on social media. Anxiety is contagious. Don’t let yourself get sucked into a lengthy Facebook debate or show your kids a humorous video that might leave them confused and fearful. It’s best to dedicate a certain time each day to check in and then leave it alone—especially when kids are around or before bedtime.
2. Moderate news intake. It’s challenging to think clearly and act accordingly when besieged by anxiety. Research shows that the more attention you pay to things that are out of your control, the more out of control you feel. You can’t control current events, but you can control your exposure to them. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t strive to be informed, but limiting your news intake will reduce that anxious, out-of-control feeling that can come when overly immersed in the media flow around distressing political realities. Decide when you will listen or watch the news—ideally without kids around—and then stay off the news cycle so that you aren’t bombarded with stress-inducing images and words.
3. Add an hour of sleep. Moms often wear their lack of sleep as a badge of honor, but when you’re tired, it’s more difficult to handle stress. An edgy, cranky mom is a mom who later feels guilty about her less-than-ideal parenting. Arm yourself during these hard times. Try napping when your child is napping, or sneak in extra sleep on the weekend. In the evenings, drop what you are doing, whether it’s chores or watching TV, an hour earlier than usual. And if you feel sleepy at night, seize the moment and go to bed!
4. Practice mindfulness. The simple act of meditation and deep breathing can promote relaxation and health. Set aside a time when your children are in school, napping, or even zoned out on video games. Even five to 10 minutes can make a huge difference in bolstering your coping skills. Check out this list of guided meditation resources from UCLA Health.
5. Bump up your exercise routine. If you have a regular exercise routine, try adding a half hour or increasing the intensity. Exercise is a great way to feel empowered and to blow off nervous energy. If you don’t exercise, now is a great time to start. Don’t blame your kids for not exercising. Take them with you for a walk or a run, or if you have a baby, try wearing your little one while walking stairs or taking a hike. The human body was designed to move, and exercise stimulates endorphins, so go for it. You’ll not only quell anxiety but also be a fabulous role model for your family.