I'm one of those people who is very upset about the U.S. Presidential Election results and the events since the Inauguration. On any given day, I'm worried, outraged, angry, scared and confused. But I'm also a wife, a mom, an executive leading a team for an HR consulting company, an entrepreneur and a relentless optimist. I can't wallow in sadness or frustration; I've got to keep on living. In so many times of stress I've learned that when I set some guidelines for myself, I can control my own happiness a bit better. So I'm working on a purposeful coping strategy to get me through the days and weeks (and months and years?) ahead:
Limit my news diet. I want to be informed but not overwhelmed. I've changed the News settings on my phone and identified a few trusted sources. If my husband starts to fill me in, I set a time limit for how long I'm willing to listen, and then I insist we change the subject.
Focus on ways I can have an impact. My daughter and I participated in a Women's March. For the first time ever, I've written to and left voicemails for our senators. I've joined a few postcard campaigns. I'm looking for ways to become involved in a more substantial way as well. If I'm not willing to do something, I don't have the right to complain.
Stick to primary sources. Instead of relying on other people and news outlets to tell me how to feel about what our country's leaders say, I've reactivated my Twitter account so I can read the politicians' messages and decide for myself. And I'm engaging with people who see things differently so I can understand their perspective - instead of just judging it.
Resist the urge to click on sarcastic or inflammatory posts. The sarcastic ones might provide a laugh but they are also a time suck, and the inflammatory posts drain whatever positivity I have left.
Designate times when politics are completely off-limits. Being in worry-and-anger mode non-stop is not healthy. Yesterday we went to a movie - what a much-needed diversion that was! And when I'm at work, I'm focused on work, and doing my best to avoid political conversations.
Developing coping strategies is helpful in all different types of stressful situations - a visit with your difficult in-laws (pour a fruity drink and imagine yourself on an island), an all-too-tempting buffet (load up on veggies), a dentist appointment (enjoy the chance to put your feet up and pretend you're at the spa), an aggravating job (schedule lunches with friends) - and being deliberate helps remind you that you're in charge of how you spend your time and energy.
What types of coping strategies can you employ for stressful situations in your life?