Sources: HudsonReporter.com, YourHHRS News
Recent weeks have been some of the most emotionally charged and chaotic in our collective memory: the pre-inauguration anxiety that followed a stressful election and the violence in our nation’s capital that ensued was unlike anything we have ever experienced before. But according to Dr. Gary Small, behavioral health physician in chief for Hackensack Meridian Health, there are ways to confront and overcome what many describe as feelings of rage, doubt, dread, anxiety and hopelessness so commonplace in our national psyche today.
In stressful times we often turn to old, sometimes harmful ways of coping such as alcohol or drugs. Instead, we need to find healthy ways to cope. Try making a routine of always looking your best, staying hydrated minus the alcohol, and getting enough sleep. it can be good for our bodies and minds to spend more time in nature; or to meditate, listen to music, practice slow, mindful breathing.
Don’t forget about what you eat as well. It is beneficial for us to eat natural foods rich in anxiety-reducing nutrients, including leafy greens or whole grains for magnesium, cashews or egg yolks for zinc, salmon and other fish for omega-3 fatty acids, and avocados for B vitamins. Aerobic exercise boosts energy levels, improves mood and protects thinking and memory abilities.
Also be mindful of your consumption of media. Cut back on screen time, especially for those politically charged radio and TV news and opinion outlets. Limit viewing to a small window every day, no more than is needed to keep up with major current events. The same goes for time spent online — avoid the explosive and heated conversations of social media channels raising emotional temperatures beyond what is healthy. Instead, embrace online interaction with people you know, love and trust. Family meetings or similar get-togethers accessible on a variety of online platforms can keep you connected to social clubs, religious organizations and community groups. These interactions are often therapeutic in nature.
If you have children, talk to them about what they’ve been seeing and hearing. Parents and caregivers can have an enormous impact on kids’ minds and emotions, too, by what they say and how they act. Consider your child’s stage of mental and emotional development and tell them the truth in a way they can understand. Take time to listen to their fears and concerns and try to validate their feelings, and remain connected to them about how they are feeling and coping emotionally.
When all else fails, know what health care resources are available and how to access them. Do the same for family and friends when the mass hysteria generated by recent events becomes too much to handle.