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A version of this blog post was first published in 2016, but the core message resonates today more than ever. Many of my friends and acquaintances are on-edge lately, wondering how the upcoming U.S. presidential election will turn out, and what will happen in its aftermath. All that tension and fretting can definitely lead to negative health effects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.” It can lead to muscle tension, digestion issues, and headaches.

Stress can also affect those around us.

When we’re stressed, we tend to lash out at others more. Or, we disengage and have trouble being present. We tend to get wrapped up in our own tension when we’re stressed and therefore do not give others the full attention and consideration they deserve.

The other thing about stress…it helps nothing and no one. Your stress will not solve problems or inspire positive change. Instead of fixating on your worry or angst, try funneling it into action. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on that very subject, if you’d like to check it out.

How can you keep your stress at bay and become more centered, healthy, and positive? Here are a few ideas:

Breathe.

Take time to step away from stressful situations and focus on your breath. It only take a few seconds and it WORKS. If you’d like, download a meditation app on your phone (such as HeadSpace), and let it be your guide.

Exercise.

Go for a long walk, hit the gym, or ask a friend to go to yoga class. Movement gets your blood flowing and reduces stress. It also releases endorphins, which will give you a little boost of happiness.

Step Away.

Unplug from social media, put your phone on airplane mod, and turn off the TV. If bad news and social media spats are stressing you out, it’s a good idea to remove that negative stimuli for a while. Do your best to tune in in small doses–your mental health will thank you!

Treat yourself!

Pamper yourself a little. Plan to take a long bubble bath, ask your partner for a back rub, or schedule a relaxation night filled with movies, a facial mask, and tasty treats. You might also order food from your favorite restaurant and serve it on your nice dishware. Be sure to put your plans on your calendar so they actually happen.

Eat well.

Good nutrition can increase our energy, improve digestion, and reduce headaches. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reminds us to avoid high-fat foods (like pizza and mac ‘n’ cheese) when we’re feeling stressed because “they can make us feel lethargic and less able to deal with stress.”

Practice quiet time.

Read a book, knit, bake a pie. Do something that you love and DO NOT feel guilty about taking “you time.”

Invest in yourself.

If your stress reaches serious levels, you may want to consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor to get yourself back on track. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. If this is more than “a little stress,” reach out and seek help immediately.

Your mental and physical health is directly tied to your stress levels. Don’t let the impending election drag you down! Take time to respect yourself and your wellbeing. Doing so will help set you up for success in the months to come.

Here’s to you and your health!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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