How to Stay Sane After the Presidential Election

“When the brain receives too much noise, it feels under threat so you only process the negatives in your world. To detox after the election cycle, we need to cancel the noise in our life to find the signal back to happiness”, says Shawn Achor, positive psychology expert and author of The Happiness Advantage. To do just that we compiled a list, with the help of some of our expert speakers, to help you stay sane and re-direct the noise after the presidential election…because you know the noise is not going to cancel itself out anytime soon.  

  1. Avoid Worst-Case Scenario Thinking

As mentioned in the book, Performing Under Pressure, JP Pawliw-Fry and Bill Benjamin studied 12,000 people and looked at what the top 10% of performers did to overcome challenging, high pressure situations. Bill Benjamin explains, “Our brain is wired to view any negative or tense situation as a crisis. E.g., ‘this is awful, the country will never heal from this’ or ‘we will  never undo the effects of this organizational change.’ When this happens, noradrenaline is released into our bloodstream which reduces oxygen flow to our brain, making it harder to think clearly and strategically, and we become even more focused on the ‘crisis.’”

  1. Think of the Opportunities

Benjamin and Pawliw-Fry found several solutions that top performers used to overcome tense situations, the first of which is called Pressure Solution #1: Crisis vs. Opportunity. Bill states, “In our research study, and in our experience working with the military, business leaders, surgeons, athletes, etc., we have found that high performers are able to shift their thinking from seeing everything as a crisis and look at pressure situations as a challenge to overcome or even an opportunity. That internal dialogue could sound like, ‘Post-election will be a chance for the country to heal and come together’ or ‘After the organizational change we just went through, I have an opportunity to stand out as a leader who helps others cope with the after effects.’  When we see pressure moments as an opportunity, adrenaline is released into our bloodstream, improving the oxygen flow to our brain. This allows us to use our best cognitive ability and show up with greater positive affect.”

  1. Downsize the Importance

This is what Performing Under Pressure refers to as Pressure Solution #3. Bill assures,“All too often, we overstate the importance of a situation: ‘The country will be ruined after this election’ or ‘This country will never be able to get back on track.’ The more important we appraise a situation to be, the more pressure it creates, which leads to distorted thinking, errors, lack of focus, and less skillful behaviors. When you find yourself doing this, you can lessen the pressure by minimizing the significance of the situation; i.e., ‘We have some work to do, but the country will be ok and we’ll pull ourselves back together.’”

  1. Don’t get caught up in the 24 hour news cycle.

Take time away from the news. Change the television to a station that’s not covering news of the presidential transition 24/7. Positive psychology expert Shawn Achor reveals, in research conducted by himself, Michelle Gielan, and Arianna Huffington this year, that: “just 3 minutes of negative news in the morning impacts your mood 6-8 hours later! Luckily, other research shows that pausing everything even just two minutes to listen to your breath go in and out quiets the brain, raises your accuracy rates, and lowers your stress.” Achor suggests you “try for one week to turn off the music in your car for the first 5 minutes of each drive, or mute the commercials for just one show a day.” This will quiet your brain and help you take a step back from the non-stop media swirl.   

 

  1. Limit Time Spent on Social Media

Scrolling through your Facebook News Feed alone can be stressful. Along with limiting time spent on social media, also know when it’s best not to engage in a heated online discussion. You’re probably not going to change anyone’s mind, and you’re certainly not going to make a legitimate political change through the comments section on Facebook. Worst case, if it’s too difficult to disengage with topics that you vehemently disagree with on your friend’s wall, just unfollow them for a little while. Unfollowing people simply means that their posts stop showing up in your News Feed. You are still friends, these people will still see your posts, and they will never know they’ve been unfollowed.

  1. Go ‘Paign Free

To help you achieve numbers four and five most effectively go ‘paign free. I Haven’t Got Time for the ‘Paign is a Google Chrome browser extension that filters out all post-election political coverage from the internet on your personal web browser. You can set-up the browser to filter for various lengths of time, even all the way through the holiday season and into the new year.   

  1. Play OutsideTurn off your phone, put away the newspaper, and take a step outside. Whether you’re near the beach, the mountains, or even a park, go outside, breathe the fresh air, and notice how the earth keeps spinning regardless of the political noise.
  2. Therapy BakingA good cake can do a lot of healing. Here’s the recipe and the ingredients to our favorite Martha Stewart chocolate cake. Invite friends and family over to share the cake with you:
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
    • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk

To bring an emotional intelligence speaker to your next conference or event, contact BigSpeak at info@bigspeak.com or (805) 965-1400.