Halloween, A Full Moon, and Election Stress... Oh My!
This Saturday brings Halloween, a full moon, and the last day to vote early in North Carolina, which means Election Day is right around the corner (November 3). For many, the election is a source of stress. I offer you these five tips from my yoga toolkit for beating election stress.
Tip #1: Moon Salutations. Halloween and the full moon provide us the perfect imagery for thinking about stress relief. Our free YouTube video this week helps you master moon salutations. In moon salutations, you move with your breath, and your body mirrors the phases of the moon. This helps deal with Election Day stress in two ways. First, when you move with your breath (what is called vinyasa flow in yoga), you are becoming attuned to the present moment, which can still the mind and help you release worries and stress. Secondly, by mirroring the phases of the moon, we are reminded that all things change and that we move through cycles here on earth. In other words, election season, too, shall pass.
Tip #2: Listen for messages. Halloween is a time when many believe the veil is thin, and it is possible to commune with those who have died. The Romans used this time to celebrate fallen soldiers, and the Catholics use it as a time to honor the saints. Whether or not you believe in communing with the spirit realm, you can use this time to commune with yourself and your own intuition. As you move through asana or meditation, take this time to listen for messages from your heart and gut. Often, we are focused on the busy mind and what it is telling us that we should be doing, but often, we ignore deeper messages from our smartest, highest self that may be communicating what we need. Whether you are communing with the spirit world or your own internal landscape, take time to observe what you really need versus what you think you should care about (e.g. peace versus searching for early polling results).
Tip #3: What are you harvesting? The full moon and Halloween both represent a time of harvest. Historically, Halloween served as a celebration of the fall harvest and a time to prepare for winter. Before we move in to the cold, introspective time of year, take a few moments to celebrate your fall harvest. What seeds have you planted - big or small - that are coming to fruition now? It can be something big, such as the flexibility of your body after starting a yoga practice, or something smaller, such as the peace that comes with organizing your closets (though, that may not be so small, depending on your closet!). Celebrating your successes will help you focus on the things that YOU can control instead of the many things in the world that are outside of your control. Additionally, the more we celebrate a successfully changed habit, the more likely we are to ride that momentum towards additional positive changes.
Tip #4: Give yourself time to detach. If you are really worried or stressed about the election, you may find yourself entrenched in the 24-hour news cycle. If you find yourself there, consider taking time to detach and let go. Turn off your computer or TV. Consider temporarily deleting your social media accounts. Go on a road trip. Read a book. Try a yoga practice for stress relief. Do anything you can to detach yourself from the election stress.
Tip #5: Send some love and compassion to the world. When humans are stressed, it tends to be difficult for us to focus on others, as we are so concerned with our own problems and worries. This is normal. However, to alleviate stress, it is a good practice to turn your gaze outwards and try sending some love and compassion into the world (this is called dereflection in existential psychology). You can close your eyes and imagine love and compassion flowing from your heart center out to the world. If you are not quite in a place to send love and compassion to others, try closing your eyes, giving yourself a hug, and sending these feelings towards yourself
Try to remember, nothing is permanent. Stressful times come and go. When they are here, I hope these five tips help.