Scary, but Not the Halloween Kind, the Political Kind

If I hadn’t put out decorations in my houses, I wouldn’t remember that Halloween is in a few days. All that fun spookiness and pretending to be scared has fallen by the wayside in my circles. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY seems to have real fears right now. It doesn’t matter who you are or what social group you’re a member of, you’re probably scared, or at least really concerned.

People in the US seem to be the most scared, but friends around the world have been expressing their concerns to me or in public forums. The elections coming next Tuesday are alarming people. People are scared of fraud, roaming militias, unseemly riots, government failures, mayhem, the apocalypse, a military coup, bombs…you name it, if it’s bad, people are afraid of it.

According to an article in today’s The USA Today, 70% of US adults are anxious about the upcoming election. That obviously includes people from all parts of the political spectrum! The article describes what people around me have been saying:

The majority of American adults say they feel it. The anxiety, the fear, the dread. 

They feel it before bed and when they wake at night, at red lights and in grocery store lines, at desks and dinner tables. Quiet moments are no longer a refuge, but spaces to ruminate, contemplate, to grapple with how risky it is to hope.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/10/28/presidential-election-stress-how-cope-anxiety-and-fear/6049521002/

Only 52% were anxious in 2016 (I should have been MORE anxious). The thing is, no matter who wins, the other side will be doubtful about the results. I can see that. It doesn’t bode well. And taking deep breaths won’t help in that situation, will it? I have been wondering if there are any ideas I can share with y’all, my real-life friends, and my family (who run the gamut of beliefs and expectations).

For example, let’s not imagine the future this way, okay?

Thank goodness for Alia E. Dastagir, who wrote this helpful article, and thank goodness I found it when I was faliling around searching for ways to cope. I’ll share her ideas for dealing with the next few days, weeks, or months, but feel free to head on over to the original article for details.

Avoid doomscrolling. That means don’t obsess over the news and check outlets repeatedly. You could even take some time off.

Prepare for a period of uncertainty. Ugh, I don’t want to do that! I want things to be DONE. Well, too bad. We need to find ways to remain strong while waiting for things to settle down. And there’s where I’m grasping at straws. Dastagir did NOT tell me how to do that.

Dare to hope. Dastagir points out that many people in the US no longer dare hope. At least there’s a suggestion on this one, which is to focus on finding something you can actually DO. I think all the postcard writing some of my friends did helped in that way.

Avoid black-and-white thinking. That is easy to fall into, especially for some of us. WE’RE DOOMED! I have been doing a fairly good job of avoiding that kind of thing myself. I try to remind myself that we are all fellow humans, and that awful stuff has happened throughout history and at least SOME people make it through it…so, maybe I’m not doing such a great job of avoiding doom and gloom. But, we can all try together, right?

Don’t despair. This may be easier said than done, but we are implored not to despair if our candidate does not win. The psychology professor quoted in the article recommended that we try to avoid people who may be gloating or in ecstasy for the first few days after a contentious election is settled. That is what I did in 2016, though that was easier then than it is now.

This time, I may have to leave town.

This looks nice. Image by @ctayers via Twenty20.

Hey, do any of YOU have any good suggestions for how to deal with what’s going to be a hard time for at least half of us, no matter what the outcome?

Not All Doom and Gloom

Yesterday I was talking to my therapist (a thing I do, because I think it’s good for you). I started describing all the things that are making this a rather stressful time. I went on and on. I ended up with quite a hefty list of things that combine to make me, perhaps, not at my best right now. For example, these are so of the things running through my mind.

Suna’s Bulleted List of Concerns

  • My job changes
  • The new company
  • Family health issues
  • The pandemic
  • Presidential election
  • My kids’ issues
  • Wildfires
  • Hurricanes
  • Police killings of Black people
  • Isolation
  • Mean people
  • Etc.

Well, yeah, probably just a couple of those would be enough for one period of time. My neck tingling started up just by typing that. How shall I cope?

Just like the Pope Residence has endured many changes and challenges, so must we.

I don’t think it’s healthy to ignore the things that are challenging us or threatening people we care about; I have noticed that things you try to bury eventually emerge to bit you in the butt. I want to be able to acknowledge them, then set aside the things I can’t do anything about (viruses, fires, rain). Worrying won’t change these natural phenomena I can do little to affect.

That leaves me with the things I do need to deal with. I’ll just minimize contact with mean people, keep in better touch with the kid who talks to me, donate to elections, work hard to figure my job out without letting it consume me, be there for my family, and cheer on the new business without getting in the way.

See, I even have reminders to be full of gratitude for what doesn’t suck, right outside my office door.

As for police killings of Black people, I am continuing my own education about racism by reading Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson with a group. They are reading one chapter a day, so it will take a while, but they are serious and ask lots of questions. It would have been interesting to read How to Be an Antiracist that way. And as for concrete actions, I’ve volunteered to be on the diversity committee at work, though I have to say I also plan to work on supporting elders like myself and my LGBTQ friends.

Just by examining how I am dealing with the challenges the world is presenting I feel better and more like I am handling these hard times as well as any other imperfect human could.

The Rewarding Part

And, for my friends and followers who prefer to focus only on what is good in life and what they are grateful for, I will happily acknowledge that I DO stop and smile at the good things that surround me.

Simulation of what I saw. Image by @ashleytaylor1987 via Twenty20.

I wish I could have captured the moment visually, but this morning, as I stepped out of the house to go to my car, the sun had just risen, and was casting a golden glow (smoke particles, no doubt). The grass was heavy with dew, so heavy that the blades were all bending down from the weight of drops of water. Each water droplet looked like it was made of gold, thanks to the sun. I walked to the car in a glistening, gold and green carpet. Yeah, my feet got wet, but it was worth it!

What have you encountered on this day the Earth has brought us? Are you safe or in a storm? What comforts you as you deal with your own bulleted list of concerns?

Asking for Input in Troubled Times

While I do try to remain upbeat, some days are easier than other. And the daily grind is challenging. I don’t know anyone who disagrees with that right now!

Every day I hear grim statistics about COVID-19. Every day I read about people who “don’t believe in” the virus. Every day I see people scurrying around in masks trying to complete their business and get back home. Every day I see people playing contact sports, walking in large groups, and choosing to ignore social distancing practices.

Everyone has their own ideas of what’s safe, it seems.

Such contrasts!

The NY Times says fighting over masks is the new national pastime. That’s so sad.

How do you deal with the conflict that’s so obvious in our state and nation during this pandemic? I don’t think yelling at each other is a good idea. Shaming doesn’t seem to work. Everyone’s stressed out enough as it is, and being yelled at and shamed won’t make anyone change what they’re doing. I totally understand that, but I also understand how people react that way.

So, I’m looking for input. What are some ways of coping and maintaining an even keel that you’ve tried? Here are a few of mine (which aren’t working too well right now):

  • Deep breathing
  • Limiting reading of social and news media
  • Spending time with animals
  • Reading cheerful books and magazines
  • Writing letters
  • Doing kind things for others (I ordered some herbal supplements for a young friend, for example, since I could get them at a discount)

This is a good start, maybe!

Be good to each other. We’re all we have!

Well Past My Limit

I hit my limit on Wednesday. Today I surpassed it.

Work continued to annoy, mainly from being out of the loop when hard work was supposed to be done as a team. We worked it out.

Glad I had my squishy thing today.

And. We had been waiting to close on our Villa Park property all week. Ever so many weird delays occurred.

I was sad and disheveled.

I had hoped for a quiet day in the Cameron office today, but nope. While I was in Austin, all sorts of…things happened on our Pope Residence project, but no one had told me.

They also broke this light fixture.

Blah blah. Who cares. At some point I just started crying as Kathleen talked to me. I just wanted to flee. I couldn’t take any more bad news.

The bathroom window looks out on the yard now. The scary laundry room is gone.

I didn’t. Breathing occurred, and I sat through all my meetings, politely said how I felt, and did my work for all my jobs.

There the laundry room isn’t.

We actually got the closing on that house done, though our real estate agent, Carol, had to drive up to Cameron to bring the papers and our friend Liz had to rush through all the papers. Whew.

Carol and Sierra rest during their brief stop in Cameron for the closing.

I just decided to go with the flow. It worked. Sometimes that’s all you can do!

Yep. That’s an incredible number of papers for sellers.

The sight of all the work going on at the Pope Residence, along with thoughts of chandeliers for our offices helped. And some wine.

Nothing relaxes me more than decorating houses, so tonight Kathleen and I looked for chandeliers for our offices. Which one do you like best?

I’m sure things will settle down soon. I’m sure being out of the loop won’t be permanent. Challenges are part of life!

A Perspective on Anxiety

Hi, friends. I interrupt this period of “hermiting” to share a little bit of what I’ve learned about myself and how I handle stress and anxiety now as opposed to how I used to. I’m hoping it might help someone else to at least realize they aren’t the only ones with these confounding symptoms.

As we know, nature is a great thing for dealing with anxiety.
Like in a game of Giant Jenga, anxiety can make you feel like just one more thing will cause you to crash.

I’m lucky that a combination of a low dose of an anti-depressant, meditation, yoga, and a good therapist mean that I don’t have the generalized, daily, anxiety symptoms I used to. It’s just when things pile up or there’s some big new stress source (just family stuff; it’s okay) that my old symptom friends make a rare appearance.

For one thing, when that happens, I think to myself, “Oh, there are my symptoms again…I’d better pay attention to what is going on and see if I can ameliorate something and nip this in the bud.” In the past, I’d just wallow, think about how I must be at fault and must have caused this myself, and feel helpless.

Continue reading “A Perspective on Anxiety”